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The "Audience" Lesson is part of the full, Web UX Design for High Converting Websites course featured in this preview video. Here's what you'd learn in this lesson:

Paul discusses why understanding and representing the target audience is important when developing content. When users can see themselves within the content of the site, it creates a stronger bond with the brand.


Transcript from the "Audience" Lesson

>> Another part of this whole equation is something called priming when it comes to content. Now, a priming is about preparing the user for the offering you are presenting them with and it's about, it can be used in a bad way. So, for example, if you've ever watched any Darren Brown, who does like mind tricks, and people.

He's a magician, right? He can set them up with certain key things, that they see certain objects in a room or key phrases. And he can influence the decision they make in quite a manipulative way and that he's using priming to do that, the fact that we're quite influenced.

But priming can also be used in a very positive way, to make the people feel comfortable in a situation and make people feel valued and a product is right for them and is in line with their way of doing things. And a lot of this comes down to how you word things and even the imagery you pick.

So let me give you a couple of examples to show what I mean. The first example is around something called mental models, right? This is the big promo, and I'm sure you've come across this before. Where a client is designing a website or creating a new website with you and you're working with them.

And they're creating the information architecture and they start using jargon and phrases that don't make any sense. And you tell them that they shouldn't put it in, and they say, but everybody knows those phrases. Well, what's happened there is that their mental model, their way of seeing and perceiving the world has kind of left and is no longer in line with the mental model of their audience.

And this happens for a couple of reasons. One is because, they're having a unique perspective on things. That we all have different ways of seeing the world and structuring information that's influenced by our situation. So there's a very famous fable about an elephant and you get a group of blind people that are all introduced to an elephant for the first time.

And one of them starts off by touching the elephant's leg and it concludes that the elephant must be a tree from because it feels like a tree trunk. Another one touches the elephant tail and concludes it's a rope because it feels like a rope. Another one touches the trunk and thinks that the elephant is a snake and so on.

So our experiences kind of alter how we see the world. So you need to be very aware of how your audience sees the world, how they think of things, how they structure things and use appropriate language. But to make matters worse, there's something called the expert dilemma, which is the more knowledgeable you become in a subject, the more your way of seeing the world differs from your audiences, right?

And that's why people that, you know, running projects are the worst people to be writing the content and creating the navigational structure for it. Because they're experts in the product, and so they don't really understand it. So to give you a real life example of this, okay? I'm gonna give you a phrase, Jill is going to the bank.

What is Jill going to do, is my question for you. I'm expecting to see things like going to withdraw money or going to pay a bill or someone always says to rob a bank, right? But they'll almost all be something to do with financial transactions because that's what you think of, isn't it?

Jill is going to the bank. But not everybody necessarily will have that kind of worldview. If you are a keen angler, or if you like to do sailing or things like that, you might be thinking of the riverbank, right? Totally different perception of the same phrase. So the language we use is really important.

If we don't use the right language, we're gonna find ourselves with quite significant problems. And we can help make that transition not by just using clearer language but also by associating appropriate imagery. Just by you putting this image alongside that text, I'm making it much clearer that I'm referring to the river bank in that situation.

Course I'd make it even clearer if I said river bank rather than bank but you get the idea. Another way that we really need to kind of prepare people and communicate that this is for them is through the choice of imagery we use as well. And I gave that example earlier when I was talking about the fitness app.

You don't wanna be showing images of super fit young people if you're aiming at middle aged mums. You need to be able to reflect back the people that you're actually trying to reach in the interfaces that you're creating in the imagery that you're choosing. So people know that this is for them.

And this is where things like diversity of imagery becomes really important. Because otherwise, people conclude, this isn't for people like me. The best example I ever did of that was some usability testing I was doing on a leading UK university, right? I won't say their name but you know the top universities in the UK, no doubt and it is one of the two that you're thinking of.

And basically they wanted to attract more international students in particular from Asia. So what they did is they asked me to run some usability testing to find out how we can make the site more accessible and more appealing to that audience. And I tested the homepage, knowing full well that the audience would hate it.

And I showed these Asian students the homepage and asked them one question, right? I asked him, is this university for people like you? That was just the only question I asked and every single person that I surveyed said no after seeing the homepage. And it was obvious why, cuz the homepage had a carousel on it.

And on the carousel was the latest news. And the particular latest news at that time was that the fact that the university had won some prestigious award or other. And it showed a picture of the Chancellor of the University and some key academics, all wearing their finery of academic robes, all of which were middle aged white men.

There was not an Asian person to be seen in that particular circumstance. And so as a result, people naturally concluded, well, this isn't for me. And I'm not just talking, this isn't just a race issue or a gender issue. This is just showing people like those you're trying to reach, fundamental to creating compelling content.

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