Create your site around your target audience
We live in a time when anything seems possible, especially online. However, it is so easy to get wrapped up in the site design process that you lose sight of your intended audience and goals. Some of the most important development points to consider are the following:
1. Site design size on screen - When looking at designs for your site, you need to gauge your intended audience's likely settings, and always aim at the lowest common denominator.
For example, if your target viewers are 'Power' computer users, they are likely to have a screen resolution of 1024x768 or above, so you could comfortably design for that setting.
However, if your target audience is older or less technical users, it is more likely that they will have older computers, with lower 800x600 screen resolutions. If you design for 1024x768, these people will have to scroll left-right and up-down just to see your content.
2. Connection speed - A site must load quickly. This speed is dependent on images and animations. If your intended viewers are living in city areas, they will likely have faster cable internet connections, so you don't have to worry too much about how graphically intensive your site is. However, rural viewers with slower connections may leave if your site takes too long to load. Therefore, if you expect a high percentage of visitors with slower connections, your design should be clean and simple.
If you are trying to make a high-tech impression on a client, this would not help you. This would lead to frustration when important corporate clients see nothing or, worse, receive a lot of security or errors blocking them from seeing crucial information.
4. The use of Flash or video - This also pretty much covers items two and three. Flash and video are very connection intensive, so if your audience is on slower connections, they will just see a 'loading...' message for several minutes. Also, corporate clients may see nothing at all. Both are likely to leave your site in frustration before they enter.
Of course, there are always alternatives, such as building sites that automatically detect things like screen size and connection speed. Using that information, you can show your visitors only what you know they will be able to see.
If you are ready to take your business to the next level, now is the time to research newer web technologies, such as our own WebUpdate Site Management systems. These include many advanced features designed to give your business the best competitive edge online.
Terry Young is the founder and CEO of Internet Marketing and Design,
the award winning web and multimedia design agency in Chesapeake.
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