Content Creation for Web Use: Part Six
Write For Your Audience, Not For Yourself
Fact // You are not your users. Aid them in their path.
We have touched on this in previous posts, but again it is important to ask yourself, “Does my audience really care what I am trying to communicate to them?”
Usually, this is a harsh realization for many website content owners. Teams often expend so much effort in the development, discussion and crafting of content, often according to intricate internal communications plans and directives. It can be so emotionally devastating to realize that audience needs are not being served effectively, that many teams will dismiss this out of hand. The assumption is that the needs of the company are the drivers, and those needs reflect the audiences using the website tool. This assumption could not be further from the truth.
For this reason, constructing information architecture in websites must begin with assessing the needs of the audience and balancing them against the needs of the organization. The assumption that the organization can dictate the needs of the audience leads to a one-sided bias and likely begets inefficient or failed communication.
Think about it this way: You have institutional knowledge and passion for your products and/or services. Audiences are unlikely to know or care on the same level that you do, and they usually visit a website seeking to accomplish targeted goals. Your goal is to impart your knowledge and passion unto the audience at a level that mirrors your own.
This is not to say that organizational goals should not be considered, but they must be driven, in part, by audience needs. These needs should be assessed and used to develop content delivery strategies.
To avoid creating content or design bias, research your audience and attempt to involve a spectrum of your users to develop these goals. These users are often referred to as “stakeholders” and you should communicate with representative stakeholders throughout the development process. Interact with them over the course of the design process. Test your design and content with these stakeholders. Find out what they need and refine content specific to these masses.
Provide information users want. Users must be able to determine easily whether your products or services meet their needs and determine why they should do business with you. Focus on the basics that your customers value, and success may be more quickly realized on the new website property. Finally and most importantly, we see time and again the downside of failing to consider your audience’s needs. Momenta assures its clients that it is far more likely to lead to success if you consider these needs throughout the website development process.