Writing for the Web – Identifying Your Audience

Source: Chapter 2, The Yahoo! Style Guide

When you take on a new website content writing assignment, among the first few questions you ask the client is – who is the customer that needs to be written for? The typical questions to be asked are:

  • Who is the average visitor on the site ? Profiling your website customers
  • What is the USP of the business you are writing for; who are the competitors
  • What style of writing are you looking for in the content?

Whether you are writing for a company with a well defined niche audience or a company that is targeting several segments, your ability as the writer to develop the right content depends a lot on your understanding of the average visitor on the website.

Model User Profile: The book recommends taking it further and actually creating a ‘model user’.  Since its impossible to write in a style that pleases everyone, write in a manner keeping one person in mind. It’s akin to sketching a character for a novel.

Characteristics of the model user: Name, age, gender, marital status, profession, education levels, hobbies, how tech savvy is this person, what is his/ her’s level of  knowledge on the topic you are writing on, goals etc.

Depending on the appeal of a website, you may have to write 2-3 model user profiles.

Practical use: I actually used this approach with a new client and was pleasantly surprised at how keen the client was in helping me understand the model user. Discussing facets such as age, gender, seniority in the company, knowledge levels, really did help me have a clear understanding of ‘who’ I was writing for.

Here are some relevant articles on creating ‘personas’ and customer profiling.

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