Website Planning: Who are your users?

Website Planning: Are you planning your website for your users?
Website Planning: Are you planning your website for your users?

It is often far too easy, when planning a website, to spend hours and hours thinking about portraying who you are, what you do, what the design should look like… And then forget the people that are going to decide whether your website is a success or not – your users!

Two groups of users

If you already have a website, one way to consider this is to split your users into two groups:

  • your target audience
  • your actual audience

Who are they really?

Think about who is actually looking at your site at the moment. This is not always straightforward, but you can start by looking at the enquiries and input you get from your website. Are the enquiries from the right type of people?

It’s also worth looking at your website user statistics (get Google Analytics installed on your site if you haven’t already – it’s free!):

  • Where are your users coming from?
  • What search terms are they using to find your site?
  • What do those search terms tell you about what the user is looking for?

Who would you like them to be?

Think about the profile of an ideal visitor to your site:

  • What would their age, sex, job, company size, location be?
  • What would they be looking for?

Compare the two

Do you target audience & actual audience match? If not, think about the following:

  1. Do you need to adjust the search terms your site is optimised for – to find a different type of user? Think about the different types of the user the following search terms might bring:
    • landscape gardening
    • landscape gardening company

    Although they appear similar on the surface, the first term might be used for people wanting to move into the landscape gardening market, people wanting to research the history of landscape gardening, as well as people looking for a landscape gardener.

    The latter term is far more likely to consist of simply people who are looking for a landscape gardening company.

  2. Do you need to adjust your on-page content to cater for the users you’re actually looking to convert into paying customers? For example, think about how your site will:
    • gain people’s trust – particularly if the majority of people will never have heard of you before. This will vary in importance depending on who your users are & what your business is
    • address your users – how technical should your language be? Are your users tech savvy or not? Do you need to explain everything from scratch, or will your users a basic industry knowledge that you then build on?
    • give the right impression of your company – are you trying to move into a professional market or target 18 year old students? Your language, style and content will (should!) vary tremendously dependant the answer.

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