Although it is nice to believe that once a site is on the World Wide Web that all web users will be visiting the site, this is simply not the case.

Who is your Target Market?

The target market  is the group of individuals who are most likely to be the  customers or patrons of an organization.

To define a target market one should consider the following:

  • Geographics – relates to the audience’s geographical location.
  • Demographics – the audience’s statistical information such as gender, age, income level, marital status, and ethnicity.
  • Psychographics – lists of people’s values, attitudes, cultures and lifestyles.
  • Generation – considered part of both demographics and psychographics and refers to a group of individuals, approximate the same age, having similar ideas, problems, attitudes, experiences etc.

Let’s consider each one of these areas regarding our example for the Better Bean Coffee website.

Better Bean is a small local coffee shop in Java Town, USA. They are located near the local university and offer a wide range of speciality drinks, a relaxing and study friendly environment with free wifi.

Now that we know a little bit about the organization let’s take a look at the target market for Better Bean Coffee.

Geographics: Java Town and perhaps areas within a 20 mile radius of that location.

Demographics: Since Better Bean is located near a University and they describe themselves by saying they have a “relaxing and study friendly environment with free wifi” we can assume that their main audience are college students ages 18-24. These individuals will most likely be a mix of male and female, usually singles but perhaps a few couples and married people. University students usually come from a wide range of ethnicity’s and cultures, have a slightly higher income level (after all they have to afford college), and a higher education level than an average consumer.

Psychographics These individuals value a good cup of coffee and wouldn’t mind paying a $5 or $6 bucks for it. Their lifestyle revolves around friends and campus activities, and enjoy the coffee culture.

Generation Current college students fall under the Generation Z these individuals were born in the 90’s & 2000’s and technology such as the Internet, smart phones and wifi have been apart of their daily lives from the very beginning. These individuals are tech savvy and consider a place without access to these technologies part of the “stone age”.

Do the research

Sometimes who you think your target market is may not be who they really are.

For example you might be a store that specializes in retro style t-shirts for teens. While your target market are teenagers, it turns out that the majority of your customers are the mothers of the teens, not the teens themselves. Because of this you will need to adjust the website to meet the needs of the latter target market.

Once you have an idea about your target market you should conduct further research. You might ask current customers to take a survey to better identify who they are.

Designing for your Target Market

The layout and design of a site can very greatly depending on the target market.

An older audience generation for example, what a clear navigation system with few choices and will often roam the site until they can find exactly what they are looking for. In contrast a younger audience generation like to have many choices, and tend to leave a site if they can not find the information they are looking for within the first 5-10 seconds of accessing the site.

When drafting the layout and design of a site you need to consider the following:

  • What information does your audience need to know?
  • What does your audience want from your site?
  • What does your audience expect from your site?

In the example of Better Bean Coffee, we can answer those question like this:

  • The audience needs to know where the store is located, it’s  hours of operation, menu choices and possible prices
  • The wants of the audience could vary but based on the audience information, let’s assume a tech savvy audience would like to see images of the menu items, the ability to rate items and share that information via social media.
  • Again expectations could vary but most likely this audience expects the site to be easily accessible, especially on mobile devices.

Universal Design

When designing a site to meet the needs, wants and expectations of your target market also consider universal design.

Universal Design refers to the design of products and environments that are usable by all people to the greatest extent possible without the need for adaptation or specialized design. (

There are seven principles to universal design, which include:

  1. Equitable Use
  2. Flexibility in Use
  3. Simple and Intuitive Use
  4. Perceptible Information
  5. Tolerance for Error
  6. Low Physical Effort
  7. Size & Space for Approach and Use

For more information on the seven principles of universal design visit:


Another consideration of your target market are any special needs (eg. hearing or visually impaired) regarding accessibility.

The W3C has made accessibility a major part of designing for the web. The W3C’s Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI), cited on their website, their mission is to lead the web to it’s full potential to be accessible, enabling people with disabilities to participate equally on the Web.

In order for a site to be considered accessible it must meet the required validation standards that the W3C have put in place. A webpage can be checked for accessibility via the W3C online validator.

Besides properly being properly built for accessibility, websites also need to consider the design.

Certain typography choices could make content difficult to read.

Color is also a big concern. It is estimated that 10% of the world’s male population suffers from some form of color blindness. When choosing colors for your site design you need to consider if the colors will be visible or if their is enough contrast for content to be read. In some cases the color of your font and background might blend together for certain members of your audience, which makes it impossible to decipher the site.

One way to test your site for accessible color usage is by using the Colorblind Filter (

Global Issues

One last consideration in designing for your target market are global concerns. Though your target market might be locals, the very nature of having a website on the World Wide Web makes it accessible on a global scale.

While you might not ever have customers coming from around the world, you still want to make your site global friendly, since you never know who might one day come to visit your little point on the map.

In our example of Better Bean Coffee they focus on a local audience geographically. However, since many of their customers are college students there are likely quite a few international students who make up that population.

When designing for global/cross culture audience you need to consider the following issues:

  • Language – not all people are native english speakers, therefore it is important to write in short easy to understand terms.
  • Symbols & Icons – symbols & icons allow for a message to be communicated quickly as long as the symbol or icon is familiar to the audience
  • Color – color is crucial to any design, because it has natural association, cultural meaning and psychological symbolism.
  • Stereotypes – avoid the use of stereotypes in images and copy. While many Americans might find it cute to use an image of a South American man wearing a poncho and riding a donkey in a coffee ad, this might offend your South American (or decants of) customers.

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