Know Your Audience When You Design Your Website

Who is looking at your website right now? Can they even see it or is your website driving people to your competitors? There are several key statistics that businesses often forget to research when they design their new website. The result is usually sub-par results, customer frustration and even a drastic revenue reduction.  The lack of research is not limited to only businesses as I have seen (and been asked to repair) many websites built by professional web designers who skipped this important step. There are many areas to look at but there are three that I always study before building a website for a customer. The three of the critical areas are:

  1. Viewers monitor resolution
  2. Viewers bandwidth
  3. Viewers browser

Monitor Resolution

People often think that with all the large LCD monitors out today that website dimensions are no longer an issue, however, they are really more important than ever. Even if the monitor is large, the screen resolution can be changed to a low setting such as 640 x 480.  If you design your website to fit in a monitor resolution of 1024 x 768 then anyone with a lower resolution will only see a small part of your website.  This is also important because you want to have your call to action in a place that people can see without scrolling.

Viewers Bandwidth

Over estimating viewers bandwidth is one of the most common mistakes professional web designers make. Why? Because they usually have ultra-fast connections to their desk because of the constant uploading and downloading of files.  If your principle audience is young adult gamers then you are probably fine. However, if your audience is older than the bandwidths will likely be slower. This is important because studies show that you have approximately three seconds to convince a person to stay on your website and if your website isn’t downloaded by then, you probably lost a customer.

If your statistics show that your visitors are using fast connections keep in mind that it doesn’t mean that they can still view your website quickly.  Slow Computers, spotty connections, multiple people using the same connection, internet tv or radio and many other factors could all play a part in causing your website to load slowly on their computer.

Viewer’s Browser of Choice

Each company (like Microsoft or Apple) would like you to think that  their browser is the most popular but that can be far from the truth. Independent browsers like FireFox and Chrome have had impressive growth and in many cases, they are the top browser used.  This is important because each browser, and even each version of each browser, may show your content differently, ranging from extra spacing to missing components.  Internet Explorer is one of the worst (currently) because you may have large differences in how you website looks just between IE 5 and IE 8. There are many tips and tricks to get around different issues but if you don’t know what browsers your customers are using you won’t know what browsers to be most concerned about when proofing your website.

How Do I Learn What My Customers Are Using?

These days web analytics are standard with any website and often also with whatever e-commerce or CMS package you might use. If you don’t have any analytics program then I would suggest installing Google’s free web analytics as I have found it to be a very complete and versatile web site analytics program that is always getting improved.

Why is all this important? Because you want people to purchase products, fill out your contact form, pick up the phone or complete the goal for which you built your website. If someone has to scroll sideways to view your website,  can’t see parts of your web page or down past your header or if the website takes too long to load on an average connection then they aren’t likely to go anywhere on your site.

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