It might sound like an obvious statement to some, but when considering the design and layout of your website, the most important person ought to be the user.

Determining what that user wants may not be as easy as it first sounds, as everybody accesses the internet and looks for information in different ways. Once a target market has been established, however, it is possible to divide the potential audience into groups based on their age, gender or lifestyle to determine what they are looking for in a website so that it can be built to meet these needs.

Let’s start by looking at the age of your potential users and how this can influence the design process.

Today’s youngsters, for example, are completely immersed in the digital age. Everything they do from school work to playing games and communicating with friends tends to involve a digital element, so they are used to multi-tasking (think tablet in one hand, the other on a mouse or a console controller) and intuitive interfaces. They also tend to be impatient, partly because they are young and partly because they have grown up in such a fast moving era. If your target market is children or teenagers, it’s a great idea to accommodate interactive features such as games into your website design and keep the content fairly simple so that it can be read and understood by an audience of all ages.

The under 30s are the first generation to grow up with some sort of technology as we know it. They probably had computers at home during their childhood and will be pretty adept at social interaction. The largest Facebook user demographic in the UK is 25-34 year olds so those websites that are targeted at this age group would do well to include plenty of social features – such as social feeds, icons, share buttons and polls – and of course ensure that they make the most of using these social sites to keep their audience up to date with their latest news and interesting articles and content from relevant sources.

Those over the age of fifty are more likely to view digital technology as a tool rather than a source of entertainment. Whilst this won’t hold true for all in this age group, by taking a broad view of the demographic you can make useful decisions about how to design and layout your website. Internet users in this age group are likely to be more patient than their teenage and twenty-something counterparts and will generally be happy to read more in-depth information about a product or service before deciding whether to make a purchase.

Finally you have the over 65’s. This may not initially strike you as an important demographic but despite the fact that most in this age group didn’t have access to a personal computer or mobile phone until they were in their fifties or sixties, there has been a significant rise in internet usage in this age group over recent years. Businesses marketing their products to an older audience would do well to remember that this age group will mainly consider the internet a point of reference. Complicated passwords, logins and hierarchical navigation structures should be avoided and the site should be as easy to use as possible.
It goes without saying that tailoring your content to your audience is vital and will change depending on the broad age of customer you are trying to attract. Those with a product or service that spans many age groups may choose to include particular features that will appeal to people of different ages so that the site as a whole will interest as many people as possible.

When designing your websites, we take into account your target market and ask as many questions as possible to help us understand your potential audience so that we can create the most effective website for you. To find out more please visit our website packages page