How to Target Your Audience(s)

  • School districts have a unique challenge when it comes to zeroing in on a target audience for their website. The challenge is that there isn’t just one target audience, there are multiple! Consider that a typical retail website has a very generalized target audience: consumers who want to buy their products. Simple and straightforward. 

    A school district on the other hand has to consider students, parents, teachers, school board members, and the community at large. Each of these unique user bases are going to be looking for something different.

    The challenge is, how do you ensure that each of them have a great experience while on your site by helping them find THEIR content easily? 

    Thankfully we have several tools at our disposal to meet this challenge: combining the use of colors, purposeful layout, and audience-based navigation for starters. Since the homepage of your site is the landing page for the majority of your users, this is where most of your content separation / differentiation will occur.  

    The homepage is where you can teach your users what to expect throughout the rest of the site. For instance, this accent color will always be used for Staff links. Or, these icons indicate community content, etc. The South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind does a great job using colors (blue vs green in the channel bar) to differentiate between their own campuses and statewide outreach programs.

    Having a conversation with your designer about your specific audience needs during the design phase of your template will allow them to carve out areas for each on your homepage. Staff information is always in the top right, community events are bottom left, etc. etc. 

    Separating your site’s navigation into multiple areas is another great way to point specific users in the correct direction. Instead of cluttering your channel navigation with top-level links for all creatures great and small, organize your navigation into categories. Use the channel bar for your largest audience and other user-specific link areas for your remaining audiences.

    Check out how Pinellas County has separated their main users groups (in the gold links) from their channel bar (in the blue). They’ve given a detailed list of frequently accessed content as well under each of their audiences.

    Following some of these guidelines will help to ensure that your users (no matter who they are or what they’re looking for) will find their information quickly and have a great experience on your site.