February 16th, 2013

What the hell is audience analysis?

Here at build/create we’ve adopted an anthropological way of approaching usability and design. The first step in this process is to have someone around that can think anthropologically. That means someone who can get to know the people that will be engaging with the brand and understanding their perspective. (That’s me.)

How we start.

I’m a “card-carrying” anthropologist. Don’t believe me? I literally carry a membership card around from the American Anthropological Association. Here’s a picture:


My expertise is in studying the relationships and interactions between people and technology.

As an anthropologist, it’s my job to study people. Before we go about putting web pages together or designing a brand, I get a sense of the brand’s audience. That means the people we want to reach with the brand, and those who will use the website. The audience can make or break the brand. When I’m doing my research I try to understand who they are, how they approach the brand, their likes and dislikes, and how they (or how they prefer to) engage with the brand.

Why we do it.

We do this to create a more effective product for our clients, to build a more effective brand. We want to build something that their audience will want to engage with. This way, when we get down to designing our client’s brand, it will be relatable and engaging to their target audience.

What we do.

To study the audience, I use my “anthropologist’s toolkit.” This is a combination of observation, participation, interviews, and surveys. It also includes a ton of statistics and website traffic data on how people are using the websites and how they view brands. We call it ethnography.

Once I collect all of this data, I sit down and figure out what it means and how we can apply this to our design process. During this process I create profiles of who the audience is and “who” the brand is. Then I try to understand how these relate to one another and how to relate them to one another. I act as a “user advocate,” making sure that our designs fit not only the client’s needs, but the needs of the audience as well.

So, audience analysis is our way of building the best product for our client while keeping our focus on the people that are interacting with our designs: the audience.

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