Who is your website for?

The new year brings my new website, a project I’d worked toward, on and off, for the past couple of years. Finally, in the last months of 2015, I set January 1, 2016 as my deadline. This project couldn't wait.

I suspect that many of you have “update website” on your goals list this year. I had wanted to share the 7 steps I took that may help you in your re-design but that blog post would have been too long so today I’m sharing step number one which was the most important step of all.

Decide who your website is for. 

A designer colleague gave me a great assignment during my re-design when she suggested I imagine the three types of people I wanted to come to my site. I was to be very specific on who they were and what they would need to find on my site to make it useful. Then, I was to ask myself: what do I want that person to do on my site?

I conjured three people: a literary agent, an artist seeking coaching or a workshop schedule, and an editor looking to hire me as a writer. Boom! As I “saw” those three people come to my site, I suddenly knew what I wanted them to find and what I wanted them to do. That helped me decide what to include and how to organize the navigation. If my memoir was buried, the literary agent wouldn’t be able to find it. I needed my events schedule clear and easy to access. I needed my writing samples organized and lively: so I didn’t only include text but also video and audio of performances and readings. And I was careful to “curate” my best work.

Try this with your current site. Imagine the three types of people who are coming to your site. What do you want them to find? What do you want them to do? Can a potential collector see your best work? Is it clear the work is for sale? Is your contact information on every page? If you’re a teacher, how does someone sign up for your classes? 

You will suddenly see what’s missing and what’s working. You may need to make some tweaks or this year may be your year for a complete overhaul. Either way, start with this question: who's coming and what do you want them to find?

Photo by Thomas Lefebvre