How to Get Information from Your Website Client’s Target Audience - dummies

How to Get Information from Your Website Client’s Target Audience

By David Karlins, Doug Sahlin

If your website client or your company has an existing client base, this is an excellent resource you can use when planning your design. If your client has a business that has a brick-and-mortar presence, you can get some very useful information from the client’s current customers.

You may think your client knows his target audience the best, but with a bit of detective work, you can find out a lot of information. Creating a persona is an excellent way to figure out exactly what your client’s customers need and expect on the website you are about to design.

If the client has an existing website, create an online survey on the site and ask the customers what they like about the site and what they don’t like about the site. Also ask them what features they’d like to see on the new site.

If the client has an existing website, you can learn a wealth of information by examining the site statistics. Many web-hosting companies include a rudimentary method of examining the web traffic. Most web hosting services offer a control panel that gives the website owner lots of options such as setting up FTP access and e-mail accounts.

One of the options is generally a detailed breakdown of where visitors come from, referring websites, and so on. Ask your client for access to the control panel so that you can analyze the statistics that tell you where the traffic is coming from, the amount of visits for every day and hour, plus the referring website.

The day and time can tell you a lot about the visitors. For example, if the majority of the visits come during the evening and on all hours of the weekend, you can safely assume the site is attracting people who have a day job. The country from which the traffic originates can also give you some scoop.

Say that the client’s current site gets lots of traffic from a foreign country whose first language isn’t English: Such a client might want to consider offering an option to view the site in the language of the foreign country from which the traffic is coming. This is important info in that a dual-language site will up the price tag for the site.

The referring website (the site from which the visitor navigated to the existing website, which in many cases is a search engine) also gives you a lot of information. If the referring sites are search engines, you know that the client’s existing site has relevant keywords.

You may also see that the referrals came from links at websites related to your customer’s business. If the client already has a resources or links page, make sure the referring site is included when you revise the site. If the client doesn’t have a resources page, and there are enough referrals from other sites, you need to include a resources page on the new site with links to these referrers.

The client’s brick-and-mortar business will also tell you a lot about his target audience. You can find out about the customer’s web-surfing habits by having employees ask the following:

  • Ask the customer whether he uses websites to purchase services or product. If he answers yes, find out what types of products and services he purchases on the web.

  • If the customer purchases services or product on the web, ask for the URLs of the sites she frequents. Ask her what she likes and dislikes about the sites.

  • Have your client’s employees tell customers a website is being designed, and ask the customers what features they’d like to see on the new site.

  • If your client has an existing website, ask the customer if she’d consider using the company website to purchase your client’s product or service. If she answers yes, find out what type of features she looks for in a website.

  • Ask the customer if she visits websites of companies that offer the same service and product. If she does, ask her which sites she likes the best.

  • If the client has an existing site, ask the brick-and-mortar customers whether they know of and use the site. If the customer answers no, ask the customer how she finds out about websites.

    If she answers that she uses a search engine, you know you’ll have to beef up SEO (search engine optimization) for the new site. If she finds out by word of mouth using a social media site like Twitter or Facebook, you know you’ll have to ramp up your client’s involvement with online media.

  • If the customer does know about your client’s site, ask her what she likes and dislikes about the site.

  • If the existing site has items for sale, ask customers whether they purchase items from the site. If so, ask them which items they purchase.

  • If the current site has items for sale, find out how customers feel about the ease of completing a transaction.

  • Find out whether the customer can easily locate what she wants on the site.

  • Ask customers what things they’d change about the current site.

After you or your client gather facts from your client’s current customers, you’ll have a wealth of information you can use to create a usable website. You may also find out that your client needs to rethink his original goals if the information gathered isn’t congruent with the site envisioned by your client.