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Knowing Your Drupal Site Audience

As you create your Drupal site, keep your audience in mind. People visit websites for a variety of reasons, and the content of your site should be presented in a way to attract the visitors you want.

There are lots of good books about website interface design and designing for particular audiences. One book that provides a very quick and entertaining overview of the most important principles of site design and great insight into how visitors to a site will probably react to it is Don't Make me Think, by Steve Krug.

Types of visitors to your site include

  • The random visitor: Some people will visit your website by accident. A compelling main page may draw them into your site, but in general these visitors won't be inclined to buy your products, join your community, or be interested in your services.

  • Researcher: These folks found you by using a search engine. Your site was in their search results and may or may not be what they're looking for.

    To boost the number of satisfied researching visitors to your site, focus on setting up your site to be found by search engines. This is a practice called search engine optimization (SEO), and it focuses on making sure the content on your site is presented in ways that search engines such as Google will find and index it.

  • Direct user: This is someone who’s part of your main user base; these visitors arrive at your site knowing what they’ll find there. A friend or a link on another site may refer them to your site. These are the users you most want to please with your site layout.

    If your site is a community site, for example, you should make the link to your forums prominent on your main page. Or if you have a storefront, you might want to feature your most popular products on your main page.

You may also have to consider the technology your site visitors have available to them. For example, you may be creating a site that will be frequented by people with older computer equipment and slower connections. You may want to limit your use of Flash movies and large images to allow your site to load faster.

You should also consider the demographics of your audience. Perhaps you are trying to build a community for mothers, for example. That site would be very different from one built for video gamers.

Take your site design cues from sites that are successful. We're not suggesting that you steal designs from other sites, but you can definitely learn something by studying how they use their primary links, or from how much (or how little) content they provide on their pages.

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