Audiences, Outcomes, and Determining User Needs

One of the most important parts of web design and development at Blend Interactive is what we call our Audiences and Outcomes process. The process – which borrows heavily from C. David Gammel’s Online and On Mission – helps determine site audiences and the expected outcomes of those audiences. It’s what drives decision making for the rest of the site. It’s kind of a big deal.

If you want to learn more about the process, we suggest two things.

1. Buy Gammel’s book. You can get it here.

2. Read my article, “Audiences, Outcomes, and Determining User Needs”, published today in Issue 345 of A List Apart

If you’re confused about how this differs from your standard discovery meeting, with people meeting in a room and answering questions and all of that, the answer is: it doesn’t. Not really. You may already do something like this without being so deliberate, or you may define audiences and outcomes elsewhere in your process.

That’s cool. We’ve found that tackling audiences and outcomes at the very beginning makes our content inventory more relevant (by allowing us to pair pages with audiences) and saves a step in our qualitative audit (by giving us context for content needs).

What’s more, it clarifies our goals from day one. This clarification is important. For example, if we’re building a site to sell mail-order diapers, we can’t just say, “We’re building a diaper delivery site, and mothers will come to the site to buy diapers, and so let’s start writing copy.” I’m not a mother. And if I was, I’m certainly not EVERY mother. I know damn well that fathers and other caregivers will come to the site, too. So if I move forward with the diaper-buying mother stereotype in mind, I’m doing a disservice to a giant percentage of the site’s users.

And, while you’re at it, this issue of A List Apart also has a wonderful look at future-friendly content from constant smarty Sara Wachter-Boettcher: “Future-Ready Content.”