Website purpose, audience and goals

Before you begin designing your website, you need to consider its purpose and audience. Here are some things to consider:

What is the intended purpose of your site?
What goods or services do you intend to provide through your site?
Who are your main target audience?
What are your immediate (short term) goals for the site?
What are your long term goals for the site?
How will you measure the success of the site?

What is the intended purpose of your site?

Your web site might be:

  • A business in itself; for example, an online retail store or an online magazine
  • An add-on to another business; a way of taking that business to a wider audience

Sites may try to fill one or many of these roles, or other roles:

  • An advertising brochure
  • An online resume
  • A portfolio of your work
  • A list of goods or services (with or without prices) and how to order them
  • A place to accept payment for goods or services
  • A source of information for others interested in the same topics
  • A place for people to sign up for a newsletter (printed or e-mailed)
  • A place for people to discuss topics of mutual interest
  • A source of entertainment for others

What goods or services do you intend to provide through your site?

Some possibilities include:

  • Writing, editing, indexing or other services
  • Publishing services (acting as a publisher yourself, either of online or printed materials)
  • Information, such as articles or a newsletter
  • Sales of downloadable publications and printed books or other materials, either yours or others’
  • Sales of other goods and services

Who are your main target audience?

You will probably initially target your website toward the same clients you have always approached, but you may also want to consider widening your potential audience.

Whatever your audience, you need to consider their preferences and requirements when designing and developing your site. For example, your audience may be mainly people using older computing equipment or software, or they may only have modem (not broadband) access to the Web, or they may include people with poor vision or some other physical limitation (so you need to consider accessiblity factors).

What are your immediate (short term) goals for the site?

Have someone offer you a job (or freelance work)? Become better known in your field? Network with potential friends, colleagues, clients? Demonstrate your skills at website design, graphics art, photography, writing? Promote a cause that’s important to you? Sell lots of whatever you’re selling?

What are your long term goals for the site?

Develop an online store with many products (you might have few or no products when you begin the site)? Integrate your pages with a database, so visitors can see pages tailored to their interests? Become known as the expert in your field? Sell lots of advertising space or otherwise make money from the site?

When designing a website, you need to keep your long term goals in mind even though your immediate work will be directed towards fulfilling your short term goals.

How will you measure the success of the site?

Number of visitors to the site? Number of sales? Number of people who sign up for your newsletter? Number of people who contact you to work for them? Other?

Many tools are available to help you track visitors, sales, and other statistics.


Last updated 27 March 2002

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