For today’s reading, we read “Letting go of the Words: Writing Web Content that Works” by Reddish. He focuses this reading on emphasizes the importance of understanding who are audience is and what is is they want from us. Once we find out this information, not only will we be able to post content that is extremely relevant to our readers, but we will have met both the readers goals and our own.
This got me to thinking about my current internship at TALK Greenville Magazine. One of my tasks is to maintain the social media pages (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest) of the publication as well as writing pieces for the editor’s blog. One of the first things my supervisor mentioned to me when delegating these tasks to me, was to keep in mind who the target audience for the magazine is.
For instance, the magazine is read by more affluent people in the Upstate and is split pretty evenly between male & female readers. The age can range anywhere from early 20’s to late 70’s. Hence, I have to keep in mind that I may be trying to target my fellow peers, but also people my grandparents age.
Reddish provides us with 7 steps to better understanding our audience:
1.) List your major audiences.
2.) Gather information about your audiences.
3.) List major characteristics for each audience.
4.) Gather your audience’s questions, tasks, and stories.
5.) Use your information to create personas.
6.) Include the persona’s goals and tasks.
7.) Use your information to write scenarios for your site.
Reddish points out if you don’t follow these 7 steps and “you develop the web only by thinking about your audiences, you are working from your assumptions. If your assumptions are wrong, your content won’t work” (28).
Keeping all of this in mind, when developing a home page Reddish notes that you have to make it concise, clear, and efficient for your web viewers. Most people don’t go to a home page to visit the home page, they go there to be directed to another page they want or need.
First, identify the site by establishing the brand. Facebook does a great job at this on their home page, they say what the site does (allows you to connect with the world) along with three other key functions it allows you to do that other sites don’t.
Next, set the tone and personality of the site. This can be expressed through the style, layout, or design.
Then, help people get a sense of what the site is about. This is important because often times, visitors may be coming to your site for the very first time and want to know what you have to offer.
Allow people to start key tasks immediately. An example would be putting forms on the home page, if that’s the main reason most people are coming to your site.
Lastly, send each visitor on the right way efficiently and effectively. Make it clear what link they need to click on to go to wherever. All in all, don’t expect people to read much on the home page.
I want to leave off with one last example of a successful website. Say you are looking to buy a dress online for a last-minute event. SO you go to Nordstrom’s website’s homepage and see it has very few words besides a main ad for the latest fashion trends, and a menu at top dividing the store up into sections. This makes it extremely easy for you to go click on “women” which will pop up a menu of options in that section, one of them being “dresses”, which will take you directly to that page. Efficient and effective shopping at its finest.
Questions to Ponder:
1.) What’s a website you frequently visit and what audience would you fit yourself into for that site?
2.) Give an example of a successful homepage you frequent.