Web Design Tips for Niche Audiences

by Susan Gunelius on February 11, 2011
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No two customers are alike, but some customer segments can really represent a lot of variety. How your website is designed can really make or break your sales efforts, depending on how the niche audiences you target perceive it.

Consider your niche, then evaluate these five areas of your company’s website to determine if you’re doing the best job of reaching those customers.

Layout

Depending on the niche audience you want to target through, you might need to rearrange the actual layout of the various elements on your site. For example, a simple layout with very specific links is likely to appeal more to an older audience with limited technical abilities than it will to a younger audience that expects to find a great deal of information at their fingertips instantly. Similarly, the fonts you use in your layout should match your brand and your target audience. If your brand targets teens, a fun or artsy font is likely to be preferred. However, if your audience consists of senior citizens, then a simple font in a large point size is the way to go.

Navigation

Your website’s navigation goes hand-in-hand with the layout. Using the example above again, seniors who are not tech-savvy are likely to prefer a simple top navigation menu bar, while younger audiences expect to find multiple navigation menus, sidebars, and footers filled with opportunities to drill-down deeper into the site to find specific information.

Color

The colors used on your website should also match your niche audience. For example, seniors might have trouble reading white text on a black background, but high-tech teens might prefer that color scheme, thinking it’s more trendy. A website targeted to mothers-to-be could use a pastel color scheme, but that color palette would obviously not work as well on an accountant’s website.

Features

The features you include on your website are also affected by your target niche audience.  Research shows that younger audiences and men prefer to watch video content over reading text. Younger audiences also expect to find easy access to brands’ and businesses’ social web profiles such as Twitter and Facebook links, as well as one-click options for sharing content on a website with their own friends via their social web profiles.

At the same time, the extra features on your website should not damage the user experience. While a young, web-savvy user might be comfortable closing pop-up windows or fly-over ads, a less technical audience might be confused or angered by these features and click-away from your site entirely. Finally, consider where, when and how your target audience will access your website. If your readers are on the go and frequently view your site on mobile devices, limit the amount of Flash on your site and make sure it’s designed to look great on a computer as well as on a smartphone.

Content

If your website’s content doesn’t appeal to your niche audience, then you won’t achieve the level of success you want and need. Your business’s website is a marketing tool, and both the marketing messages and the content you publish on it must clearly answer visitors who ask, “What’s in it for me?” when they land on your site. The content you think is important might not be important to your target audience at all. Match your messaging and your content to your audience or you’ll confuse visitors, driving them away from your site and business in search of another that clearly meets their needs.

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