UX design is all about creating a compelling experience for your users.
It’s knowing what the user wants, and giving it to them quickly and simply. The best UX design makes the user think the website is created just for them.
The second in our four part series focuses on your Target Audience. Because you can’t create a good user experience if you don’t know who your users are!
There’s an old saying you should live by on the internet:
“If you try to please everyone, you won’t please anyone”
Defining and targeting a specific audience is the only way to craft the perfect user experience.
Why Does Target Audience Matter To UX Design?
Good UX design is about making the user feel like your website has been designed just for them. They need to feel at home, connect with the content, and – most importantly – find the answers they’re looking for.
When you target a group of people with common characteristics, ambitions, and problems, you can create a bespoke user experience, just for them.
You can only do that if you know who they are, and what they want.
Only when you know what you do, can you figure out who will benefit.
Step 2. What is their biggest, deepest problem?
This is the essence of entrepreneurship. Finding a problem and solving it. What big problem does your product or service fix?
Once you know this, you can target those that suffer from it. Even if they don’t know it yet!
Spotify, for example, quickly became the world’s biggest music streaming service. How did they do it? They solved a big problem. They gave us instant access to free music.
But that wasn’t the only reason for their success (lots of other services do this). Their success was down to the way they targeted their first users. It went after those that were frustrated with the current system.
They defined their audience as: young, early-adopting music-lovers who consume and share their media online. Then they aggressively went after them by sending exclusive invitations.
Good UX design is all about solving problems quickly. Spotify found a problem, fixed it, and shared it with all the people who wanted it fixing.
What problem are you fixing, and who else wants it?
Step 3. Create a user profile of your ideal customer
When defining your audience, you want to avoid generalisations. You need a clear, sharp image in your head. Not just a table of data or a graph. You need a real human being.
Who is your ideal customer?
Take a second to imagine the perfect consumer for your product. Define their characteristics in as much detail as possible.
You’ll use this user profile to help make every future UX design decision. Would your ideal customer like the new colour choice? What would they think about your choice of language? Your user profile becomes your benchmark for service.
Here’s the crucial information you need to build your first ideal user profile:
Step 4. List their demographics
Make a list the of the age, gender, location, occupation and income of your ideal customer. This will help you begin to tailor your website and UX design.
Their age and gender will help determine what language to use and what tone to take. Notice how Snapchat aggressively targets the 13-34 year old market. They exclusively offer a mobile service full of bright colours (psychologically linked to young adult preferences). They use emoticons heavily, and their copy is shamelessly aimed at a young audience (lots of exclamation marks, smiley faces, and superlatives).
They’ve tailored their UX design to a demographic audience with phenomenal results.
But, you’ll need to go much deeper if you want to provide the best possible user experience.
Step 5. Focus on their motivations, dreams and goals
The most powerful results come when you design the site not for who they are, but who they want to be.
Design it for the aspiring entrepreneur. Or the person who wants to run a marathon, or wants to start a blog. Sell them a dream, and show them how your service helps them get there. Good UX design is about showing them a better way forward.
Target people with a dream because they’re much more likely to buy from you.
With that in mind, define your target audience by their motivations. Why are they coming to your site? Where do they want to be in five years? What are they passionate about?
You’ll provide a great user experience if you inspire them.
The perfect user profile example
This user profile incorporates more than just demographics:
User A is an aspiring entrepreneur, aged 31, living in London. She runs a blog about web design and considers herself a thought-leader. She follows developer blogs and shares content on Twitter and LinkedIn. She’s desperate to increase her social media reach.
With this demographic information, you can craft a space that feels like home. But it’s the behaviour and ambition information that really helps you craft the user experience. You can empower her to grow her business, show her how to increase her social media reach, and ask her to share it all on Twitter.
That’s a powerful user experience. And it’s all because you defined your ideal user.
Now It’s Your Turn
Take a long, hard look at your product or service. What target audience is going to devour your product and share it with others? Create your own ideal user profile and craft your UX design specifically for them.
The more you know about your users, the better the service you can provide. It answers questions, delivers value, and makes the user feel at home.
After all, you can’t create a good user experience if you don’t know who your users are.
Daren Low is the founder of Bitcatcha.com and co-developer of the free Server Speed Checker. With a decade of experience in website development and internet marketing to his name, Daren is considered a premier authority on all things related to building and managing an online presence. Feel free to pick his brain by connecting via Google+ and Twitter.
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