WEB160 » The Audience of One

The traditional concept of an audience is a large group of people listening to a speaker. We tend to think of them as a vaguely defined crowd all having different interests in the subject we were presenting.

We might think of our on-line audience as that mass of people with no faces, but in reality that couldn’t be farther from what is actually happening. Instead, we see small groups of people starting to emerge forming around: common interests, aims, jobs, politics, hobbies and possibly obsessions.

Information Consumers

These smaller more specialized groups demand more from their content on the web and ask us to deliver information specifically tailored to their personal tastes. We can no longer ignore this audience and think of them as aimless and not unique in any sort of way.

On the web most consumers of information demand content FAST!!!

  1. “Don’t waste My time!” – get to the point
  2. “Remember me!” – I want topics tailored to me
  3. “Exceed my expectations!” – if you go past my standards I am yours
  4. “Talk to me in real time!” – I want relevant and up to date information

Knowing Your Visitors

When you actually know about the people you are writing for, you can then tailor the site to their needs by:

  1. Giving them topics they want
  2. Use words they use
  3. Adopt a tone they relate to
  4. Build a relationship with them

The more sensitive you are to your online readers and the conversation they are looking for the less likely you will rub them the wrong way with your own personal agenda. This will make you more likely to reach out to your reader.

To do so you are going to need to learn more about the people as members of niche groups and as unique individuals.

Figure Out Who you are Really Talking to

When getting to know your users you are going to need to see what they are really like. By asking some questions about your audience, you begin to develop user profiles/personas of people that are actually reading your site:

Rehabilitation Institute of Washington User Persona

Rehabilitation Institute of Washington User Persona

Download: User Persona | Rehabilitation Institute of Washington

To get to know your reader, you might – work in technical support, participate in usability studies and read marketing and sales figures of the company and the competition. You are then in a virtual conversation with an individual, and your prose takes on a warmer and more personal tone.

See Also:

This portion of the Premium Design Works website is written by Mike Sinkula for the Web Design & Development students at Seattle Central College and the Human Centered Design & Engineering students at the University of Washington.

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