One of the main stages of a project for a UX designer is defining the target audience and developing personas. How important is understanding TA in design?
Why is it so important to understand your target audience
A target audience is a group of people who share common characteristics. For an advertising campaign more accurately hit the interests of the consumer, and the site — in the objectives of the user, you need to know your audience: its desires, fears, needs, lifestyle.
Why is the audience called the target? Because it is only a part, a segment of the entire possible audience. Advertising, a product, a site, any other marketing activity is aimed at this slice.
There are no products “for everyone”. Take any product in your mind, like burgers from your favorite diner. It’s a mass-produced product, all people need to eat, but that doesn’t mean that the potential consumers are all the people on the planet in general. Rather, they are people who share a certain lifestyle, who have a certain level of income. Your grandmother doesn’t fall into the product’s target audience, but you do. People from out of town who are unlikely to come to yours are not the target audience for such a product either. Who’s left?
Approximately this way, subtracting non-target segments and at the same time clarifying the portrait of the consumer, step by step, and come to an understanding of the TA.
In design, everything works in exactly the same way. When you design a website, you have to care about how well it meets your target audience. And knowing how to figure it out is a very useful skill.
Types of TA
To begin with, let’s divide the two main concepts. It is very important to consider the types of target audience:
- b2b (business to business) — a company sells its goods or services to other companies;
- b2c (business to customer) — the company sells its goods or services to individuals, to ordinary people.
Despite the obvious contrast between the two types, in both cases, your target customer is a specific tangible person. Or rather, a group of people.
So before you start designing, take some time and do some segmentation — engage the customer, interview them (preferably in person), ask uncomfortable questions, test references with the help of book mockups. To have something to build on — use the 5W method.
Segmenting your target audience
In order to determine your target audience, you need to segment your customers. Segmentation — defining consumer groups by similar needs.
There are several consumer segmentation techniques, the most popular being the 5W Mark Sherrington. Five simple questions that help to identify and understand the target group at the initial stage:
- What? — type of product by specific properties: what exactly are you offering your consumers?
- Who? Who? — Type of consumer according to different characteristics: gender, age, social status.
- Why? Why — what is the consumer’s reason for buying a product? What problem does the product or service solve?
- When? When? When is the purchase made? (Time of day, seasonality, or holidays.)
- Where? Where? Where does the purchase take place? (Place of purchase: supermarket, boutique or somewhere else).
After segmenting the target audience and defining its characteristics, you can move on to descriptions – this technique is called the persona (or character) method.
The persona method. Where do we get our data from?
A persona is a “collective image” of your target customer. You can say that it is a single microsegment, embodied in the image of a particular person. Let it be imaginary.
Personas are necessary for the designer to conduct mental experiments in the process of working on the design. It’s much easier to imagine how Jack, a father of two and a chief accountant, who looks and wears clothes like this, will behave on the site, than to predict the behavior of the abstract segment “men of 45, LA, high income”.
Data for the personas can be taken from social networks, thematic forums and blogs. But it is better to conduct a survey of real customers.
As a result, you will have such a card for each character.
Once the persona image is formed, you need to understand how this persona will interact with your product. This is done by creating a Customer Journey Map.
Nowadays it’s not enough for a designer to draw pretty pictures. It is necessary to understand the related areas because the emphasis has significantly shifted to the solution of business problems. The ability to analyze the TA of a project, make a portrait of a user, design the user experience before drawing icons.