Tough Decisions - Audience

Hot Fudge Sundae or Hot Water Sandwich? Not a tough decision.

Exquisite Steak Frites or To-Die-For Grilled Shrimp on Grits? Tough!

I have recently been faced with some tough decisions regarding websites I was working on. In the coming weeks I will focus in on a few of these, talking myself through one issue at a time.

And, Issue #1 is ‘audience’. The decision, how much deference to give to non-computer savvy people in the functional design of a site?

The specific dilemma I have in mind is how much of the Home Page should one extend “below the fold”? Many new templates sport Index style pages that scroll almost endlessly down from the Header. If you see something that interests you a click on it will move you down the page to more detail, you do not really leave the page at all.

The generation that has known computer screens from the womb has no problem with this. Scrolling is second nature, as commonplace as high speed thumb-texting. Folk who did not grow up with computers, who read folded newspapers one side at a time, do not necessarily assume that there is important Front Page content “below-the-fold”. 

Who is the audience for the site? Not a few of the websites I have worked on had “users” spanning quite a few generations. I could not ignore one at the expense of another. Tough decision.

My solution so far has been to blend styles, the old and the new; getting critical information “above-the-fold” while at the same time expanding content further down the page. In some cases this has involved teaser images “on-the-fold” to draw the eye south.

Compromise. Concession…and a little enticing Education.

And, of course, this particular tough decision must take into account the likely computer platform the audience will be using: Mac or PC, desktop or smartphone?

I’ll take the Shrimp. 

Peter Pierson