With any good business plan, defining of a primary goal and primary audience goes hand in hand with deciding what product or service you will market. However, with flood of entrepreneurs to Internet, I have watched an interesting reverse trend occur.
That trend goes something like this. Pick a product or service, get a domain name, build a web site and then figure out who will buy it.
I love Internet and ability it affords to even playing field between big corporation and home entrepreneur, but fact remains that sound business practices such as defining primary goal and audience works same on Internet as they do off-line.
For this reason, it is a necessity to do your research before one line of code is written, a domain name is chosen or a single graphic is created. It's what I call "Defining before designing."
Why do I emphasize this in a series of articles about web design?
Simply because every aspect of designing your web site will flow out of definition of your primary goal and primary audience. If you have not done your homework in this area, you can be sure your online venture will be like a ship with no engine or sails, merely tossed about by whims of ocean.
Now onto business of defining. Right up front I'll tell you that "making money" is a lousy primary goal. Making money is a result of setting and sticking to a good primary goal and properly defining a primary audience.
Here are three elements to consider in your definitions.
1. A PRIMARY GOAL IS SINGULAR - It is just that, a primary goal, not goals. I'm not saying that you can't have secondary goals, but key is picking a singular primary goal because that's your beacon, your cornerstone in design, without it, site crumbles.
Many new entrepreneurs approach web with a "one-stop" approach. I'm going to sell everything I've ever been interested in to all people everywhere.
It's understandable how this happens. In offline marketing, you are limited to space, be it a 15 second television spot or a two sided brochure. The bottom line is that you have limited space to sell yourself and by necessity, this narrows focus.
The Internet brings new element of limitless space to advertise. You really have more space than you will ever need, so tendency is to say something like, "In addition to this marketing pamphlett, I think I'll sell memberships to this timeshare vacation program, an affiliate hosting program and maybe even this VCR since I just got a DVD player. Keep in mind that your web site is not a garage sale.
It feels good to dream you can sell everything to everyone, but truth is you'll be more succesful selling one thing very well to a specific group of people.
2. A PRIMARY GOAL IS SPECIFIC - I could define my primary goal as "Selling books on Internet" but does that really help me make and decisions about what should be on my web site?