When designing, your aim will always be to create something that has meaning to certain people. Something that can grab an audiences attention and really get a message across. The important thing to remember is the audience can’t be everybody. We need to design something that resonates with a certain group of people. If we design with nobody or everybody in mind then the design will become diluted and lose its power and meaning.
The problem is, every brief has a different target audience. Knowing and understanding who the target audience means we will be able to communicate our message more effectively and create a stronger connection with them.
But how do we know what will work for a target audience? Well first things first – if you don’t know what will work for an audience, you need to get to know them better. Find out their overall personality, attitudes and tastes. Talk to them, listen to them – find out their vibe. Are they serious, playful? A few key questions to ask yourself about your target audience are:
What age are they between? This doesn’t have to be too specific but don’t make it too broad either. It sometimes helps to understand what stage in life they are in – for example 18-25 year old college students differ massively from 65 year olds recent retirees.
Where in the world are they? Location is a big thing to note. Is your audience local, national or global. Cultural differences as well as accessibility to certain things, such as internet, will inform your design choices.
What are their general interests? Try to find out how they spend their days. For example do they spend most of their time online shopping or physically in the supermarket? Do they like a wild night out or a quiet night in? While it might sound a bit odd – it will help you understand how best to communicate with your audience.
How do they communicate? Are they mainly on social media platforms such as Facebook or Twitter? Or do they use more traditional methods? Do they use serious language or maybe more playful slang?
Based on your answers to these few simple questions you should be able to start narrowing down elements for your designs;
1. Pick their colour palette.
Different colour schemes communicate different messages. You should have a good idea at this point of the types of colours you think will appeal to your audience. Do they need bright and vibrant colours or of a more calm and muted tone. Choosing to base your design around 2 or 3 main colours is a good place to start.
2. What layout/format works
You should also have an idea of what format will be best for your audience. If it needs to be primarily for a digital platform with short, punchy and clear messaging or if it needs to be something tangible and printed with a bit more detail.
3. Typography and Language
The style of typography and language you use is an important thing to consider about your target audience. The language sets the tone for your whole design. Does the tone need to be positive and upbeat or does it need to be comforting and calming. For example, if your target audience is in the older generation say 60-70s, then using younger slang might not resonate with them as well. The typography in turn should compliment and emphasise this tone of voice.
4. Add a little something extra
Don’t forget, do what you do best and have some fun with it! Yes, of course, you have to know and understand your audience but sometimes that audience needs something a little different, they just don’t know it yet. Don’t be afraid to try new things and surprise them. After all, design is meant to engage and excite an audience not just simply communicate a message.
The key thing to take away from this is to try to narrow your audience down and get to know them as best you can. This is valuable research that will help you make the right design choices and hopefully cut down on changes/revisions – we all know we need that! Thinking about the audience and their experience with the design will help you create more successful projects.