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1.4 Prioritise Your Audience Through Workshop Exercises

Clients hate to prioritise their target audiences. Often their audiences are so broad that they are almost universal. One of your jobs as a designer is to help the client focus on who they want to reach, and workshops can help you do that. In lesson four we help the client better understand who their primary audience should be and how to meet their unique needs.

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1.4 Prioritise Your Audience Through Workshop Exercises

Hello, folks, and welcome back to workshop your way through the web design process. So we've seen how workshops can help establish your business objectives for a project, but what about defining your target audience? After all, getting the client to clearly articulate who their target audience is, and then to prioritize these audiences can be a really painful process. There are a huge number of workshop exercises you can do around defining target audiences. From persona creation to user story cards, the possibilities are almost endless. But as getting clients to clearly articulate a prioritized set of user groups is often the biggest challenge, I thought we would probably start there. You see, you may be tempted to simply ask your stakeholders who their target audience is. And I doubt you'd get a fairly comprehensive answer to this question. But that doesn't mean that the answer you would get is either accurate or particularly helpful to you as a web designer. That's because most companies think of their target audience in terms of demographic groups. And although this is useful information, it doesn't necessarily get to the heart of what we need to know as web designers. So I would recommend trying a slightly different approach that might work better. Instead of starting your workshop exercise by talking about the user, begin by discussing what problems the company solves. This can be done with all the stakeholders together. There's no need to split down into smaller groups. As the group comes up with ideas, write each one down in its own column on the whiteboard. You should end up with a series of columns, each headed by a problem that the company solves. Next, split your group down into smaller groups and give each one a column to work with. Ask them to list all the users who need that problem solved for them. Once they've had a few minutes to do that, bring them all back together and review the results. Some target audiences may appear in more than one column, but that's fine, don't worry about that. You should now have a list of all of your current target audiences, but you probably have discovered a few new ones that you hadn't previously considered. And this list will become invaluable when it comes to designing and writing for your new website. Now as a large group, look at the list of users and ask two questions. Who influences these people, and who do they need to convince before making a purchase? These questions should reveal some additional user groups that you may not have previously considered. For example, a university website doesn't just need to convince prospective students to enroll. It also needs to convince parents and teachers who are major influences and involved in the decision making process of potential students. At this point you may have noticed that some of your target audiences are a little vague. To resolve this problem, split the stakeholders into smaller groups and assign each group one or more target audiences. Ask each group to address a single question. Does all of the target audience need your product or service? If the answer is no, then the audience needs to be further refined. Encourage the groups to make a definition of the target audience so specific, that everyone in that audience, in that group, could potentially want the product or service that the client is offering. This exercise will leave you with a comprehensive and well-defined list of target audiences. But now comes the biggest challenge, getting the client to prioritize those audiences. Clients are often reluctant to prioritize their audiences, because they fear that they are saying that a particular audience is less important. And that if they do that, you're gonna ignore that audience. In other words, putting one audience below another is in their minds effectively rejecting that audience and its associated revenue. It's so far important to explain that just because a particular group is considered secondary doesn't mean that they'll be ignored. It's also worth pointing out the dangers of not prioritizing. By trying to design for everyone, you effectively end up designing for nobody. And that results in something that doesn't really inspire anybody at all. Instead I take the attitude of designing for somebody and alienating nobody. But even once the client grasps the need to prioritize, they don't find it particularly easy because different stakeholders are often responsible for different groups. And that means, before you can prioritize your audiences, you need to help them agree on a set of criteria by which they will do the prioritizing. As a large group, get people to shout out characteristics that make a good customer. This might be things like their average order value, or the lifetime spend that they spend with the company, or the cost of supporting them as a long-term customer. Whatever criteria they come up with, write them on a board for everybody to see. Now ask people to vote, in much the same way as we did with business objectives. Ask each person to mark their top three audiences with a star, based on the criterias discussed a moment ago. When they've done that, you can add up all the different stars, and that will enable you to prioritize the audiences. The one with the most stars appears at the top of your prioritized list, and the one with the least at the bottom. Now, you could stop at this point. After all, you have the prioritized list of audiences that you were looking for, but there's one more exercise I would encourage you to do. You see many clients perceive a target audience as a group of people to push a message at. They don't really see them as real human beings. And as web designers, we're interested in building sites that meet users' needs, not just push a company agenda. Being successful was helping stakeholders better understand it, the users' experience and what they want. One way of doing this is to create a customer journey map. This involves creating a timeline of the user's interactions with the client's company. Creating a customer journey map is like telling a story of the user's experience. Sure it's not gonna be comprehensive, but it does help focus the stakeholder on the user's experience. If you decide to try this, I recommend focusing just on the primary user group, as mapping the customer journey does take quite a lot of time. Begin by identifying the key stages a customer passes through in their interaction with your company. This often involves stages like discovery, research, purchase, delivery, and after sales. It's important to know that it will vary depending on the nature of your product or service, and there's no right or wrong way to organize these stages. Feel free to decide on a model that works for everyone in the workshop. The second decision the group needs to make is what information you want to map about your users. What do you need to know about each of these key stages and their interaction? Again, this is totally up to your group to decide. But, some common topics are tasks. What is the user trying to achieve at this stage in its interaction? Or questions, what does the user want to know at this stage in the interaction? Touch points, how does the user interact with the organization at this point in the timeline? Emotions, what is a user feeling at this stage in the process? Or weaknesses, how does the organization let the user down at this stage in the journey? With those two decisions made, you can now create a grid with key stages on one axis and information to gather on the other. I recommend getting a large roller paper and covering an entire wall with this grid, as big as you possibly can. Now as a group, work through the first column. For each row, start writing information on Post-it notes and adding it to the grid. For example, what tasks is the user trying to complete in the discovery phase? Write each task on a separate Post-it note and add it to the appropriate cell on the grid. The reason to write on the Post-it Notes is that as the exercise goes, by you may well want to restructure your grid. You may decide that a task happens later in the process, or you want to reorganize things in some way. Where possible, use data to inform what goes on the Post-It Notes, but if in doubt, guess. You could always confirm your guess after the workshop. It's better to maintain momentum than it is to get stuck on a particular part of the grid. By the time you reach the bottom of the first column, people will have got the idea. And at this point I tend to split attendees down into pairs or small groups, and I give each pair a column that they can work through themselves. This speeds up the process, but it also stops the exercise becoming too monotonous, as you can imagine it would do after time. Once the pair has finished with their column, we all come back together and discuss. And this insures that everyone is in agreement, even if they didn't work on a column themselves. And that is really about it for customer journey mapping. What it will do is help the stakeholders to think about the experience that the user is having, and that's the key lesson from this video. The primary aim of any workshop you do around audiences has to be encouraging stakeholders to see things from the user's perspective. Good web design is about meeting the needs of users. And it's so important to educate stakeholders to think about the user first. And this will make it so much easier when it comes to getting the client's sign off later in the process because they'll understand the importance of meeting user needs. Our next lesson is gonna build on this deeper understanding of user needs when we look at how to workshop the information architecture of your website. But until then, thanks for watching.

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