Once you have established the goals for your new website, you are ready to move on to the next stage in the project. It is time to consider who are the target audience for your site. Your designer will have opinions on how your website should look and what it should include, so will your boss and some of your customers and so will you. There will be only one opinion that matters though and that opinion belongs to your target audience. So lets have a think about them.
Defining your target audience (in fact, audiences might be better) is an important next step in the process of building your website. You have already considered your goals for the site and by giving some thought to the target audience(s) the site will serve, you will have the information you need to make better decisions on site structure, what content is required and even what look and feel elements are appropriate.
For example, a sports club designing or changing its website may have several audiences. These could include members of the club, potential members, club sponsors, the local community (some of whom are potential members or sponsors) or spectators. If we were to take a look at potential members, as an example, these may break down into further groups. They might include adults taking up the sport for the first time (or after long breaks), they may include juniors learning the sport from scratch and they may include established players, perhaps working and living in the area having moved here from some other country and looking for a club to play at. Each of these potential audiences has different needs from the site. They will be looking for different content and different levels of engagement. What’s more, the site will need to be structured sensibly to allow these different groups to find what they are looking for.
The website of a band may have target audiences that include fans but also those who are just coming to the band for the first time. Where those new to the band are looking to find out what the group is about, established fans are looking to dig deeper, to find out more. They are looking for a deeper level of engagement. A third market for such a site would be promoters and record companies.
The website of a small business that manufactures some product may have audiences that include wholesalers or dealers, direct customers, existing customers seeking support. It is important to remember that the sales process is usually just that, a process. Potential customers are not one homogeneous audience and may go through several stages before they purchase. At different stages they may have different information needs and different emotional triggers. They will be looking for different things if they visit your site. In that sense, they are different target audiences and you may need to map content to different stages in the sale funnel.
The point here is that you should define your target audiences at this point. Together with the goals that you have established for your website you can then move on to establishing what content and what features will best serve your target audiences.