It’s about your audience

I find myself having the same conversation over an over again on campus with different constituents. It’s not about what we call a particular program internally or what we want to necessarily communicate but rather it’s about your audience. We might call our housing area Residence Life but on the navigation bar and in the search engine users have to be able to find that office by looking for housing. This probably seems like a really simple concept to readers of this blog but I am blown away at how many times we have to have this conversation on campus.

Priorities, decisions, and content development should be driven by audience.


4 Responses to It’s about your audience

  1. Amy says:

    HA! We finally set one of our groups in on a user testing session, where we asked prospective students and their parents where they would look on the site to find out where they would sleep while here, not one person picked “Residential Programs and Services” – they all picked some variation on housing (campus or student). When the users were asked what they thought RPS meant, one person asked if it was a euphemism for a half-way house or some sort of assisted living for mentally handicapped students.

    Our internal group conceded immediately, but if they hadn’t heard that feedback, they would never have budged.

  2. Paul Redfern says:

    Amy – it is nice to hear others who have similar experiences. Of course we sometimes present data that is similar but hear back “we know that but it still needs to be called X”

  3. tobykeeping says:

    Let’s face it…websites, and pretty much any other ‘marketing’ tool, are driven by the goal of building relationships with various audiences. Few people like being spoken down to, or have others use language that isn’t relevant.

    On the other side of the coin, nothing seems as insincere as someone clearly speaking outside of their element in an effort to ‘fit in’. Trying to get your message across to your teenage son by wearing baggy jeans, a slanted hat, and using teen slang won’t do much to help him relate to you; though it may prevent him from ever wanting to speak with you again.

    Whatever the audience, the message has to be genuine and on the same level as the audience. You have to choose your message, and words based on the audience you want to connect with. If not, you lose a valuable opportunity to turn your message into a relationship. In today’s world, relationships turn into customers (or for academics reading this..enrolled students).

  4. I couldn’t agree with you more. The website shouldn’t be about delivering the institutional message, but rather about engaging students and providing information they need/want.

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