Designing for the Right Audience

Written by Drew McDowell on .

Know your audience. It’s the first thing they teach you in English comp 101, yet it’s the most important lesson I ever learned. Its value, not just in writing, but in any creative process, can’t be overstated. In order to educate, entertain, or entice your target market in the most effective way, you have to identify and relate to them.

This idea came to head in last week’s production meeting as we were discussing football helmets. I was tasked with redesigning South Carolina’s helmet for a feature story on al.com, in which local graphic designers reimagined SEC helmets using each school’s existing colors and logos. (No need for panic, SEC fans; the story was just for fun.) I had created several concepts ranging from conservative to contemporary and asked friends and coworkers to pick their favorite. Everyone had widely varying opinions on which they liked. This sparked a discussion about the importance of designing for a particular audience.

helmet1c helmet3
early concept with gloss-black logo on matte-black helmet early concept with chrome-finish logo on matte-garnet helmet

In this case, the audience was readers of al.com. More specifically, readers who might find this article while looking for the latest on which middle-school standouts the Tide and Tigers are recruiting for 2017’s team. The passion that Alabamians have for SEC football is impossible to define, but if someone were to attempt they would almost certainly employ the word “tradition.” With that in mind the office and I agreed that it would be best to avoid Oregon-esque modernism and go with a more conventional design.

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final helmet concept with more traditional gloss-color logo on matte-black helmet

I design websites and marketing materials for a wide spectrum of clients. I take pride in the stylistic variety of work I've produced and one way I am able to achieve such variety is through the practice of this fundamental principle: know your audience. The appearance and user-experience of a website for a coffee house should be entirely different from that of a government contractor, or an Elvis-impersonator.

When I create a website for you, every element of your site is specifically designed to connect with your target customer, from copy to color, from photos to fonts, from backgrounds to buttons. The result is a website that is as effective as it is unique. That’s my goal, everyday.