I’m studying to be a writer, so I didn’t expect to be taking classes about audience analysis. But through a PWID class called User Experience for the Web, I grew to appreciate the importance of considering audience members when designing and creating content.
In this class, our professor, Dr. Carrington, sorted us into groups where we worked all semester to design a digital publication with a specific audience in mind. My group for this project chose to design a blog for a website that sold thrifted clothing. I was surprised how much planning it took to create something with the audience member in mind. In my other classes I was writing for an audience. But now I also had to consider the visual appeal of our publication and make sure it was easy to navigate.
The class emphasized the importance of focusing on a specific group and how to best provide for them. My group decided our blog would appeal to young adults interested in purchasing retro clothing, saving money, and protecting the environment. We found potential audience members in this demographic and got their feedback at every stage of development.
I interviewed them about thrifting. I asked about their past experiences with thrifting and what they would like to learn about it. This information helped my team decide what to write about on the blog. We gained a better understanding of what topics our audience wanted to read about. I learned the first step in providing for audience members’ needs is learning what those needs are.
Next we drew a prototype on paper. We brought in audience members and asked them to simulate visiting our publication. We wanted to make sure it was easy to navigate. I quickly learned how to spot what makes an online publication easy or difficult to use. After the paper prototype, we made an online version and let audience members play around with it before we developed our final version. At the end of each phase of the design process, we presented to the class, explaining what we had made and learned so far. We also got feedback from Dr. Carrington and the other students.
By the end of the semester, my team and I had learned what material our audience wanted, what design would catch our audience members’ attention, and what layout made our online publication easy to navigate.
I’ve already used the skills I learned in this class in a professional context. Last summer, I worked at an internship where I edited documents for Cedarville’s IT department. These documents were resources for students and faculty that explained how to solve their computer problems. I remembered what I had learned in User Experience for the Web and realized I had to edit each document so that the people they were intended for could actually use the information presented to them. Keeping the students and faculty who were going to read these articles in mind, I made sure the information was easy to understand. Even though I started my role with a limited knowledge of technology, I knew how to create user-friendly content.
Learning about audience analysis made me more considerate of others. Because of this class, I am much better at making the needs of audience members a priority. As Christians, we are called to put others before ourselves and I am so thankful that User Experience for the Web prepared me to do this.
About the author
Matt is a senior Professional Writing and Information Design major at Cedarville University.