One of the most important questions we ask ourselves with every website we design is: Who are the people that will be coming to this website? For some clients it is business executives trying to find the right company to help them with a certain aspect of their own business. Some websites have a specific age range.

What prompted me to write this blog post is our very first client: Soma San Diego, a local San Diego concert venue that is very popular with high school and college age kids. We are in the process of redesigning their website and rethinking their strategy in how they get the word out about the new concerts they are having and ultimately how to get more ticket sales. Up to this point, they have their concert schedule posted on their own site, a few general San Diego entertainment websites, and then their massive email list which people have subscribed to over the past 5 years or so.

Now, I’m no longer in their target age range so I went to my younger brother who is still in high school to ask him how do kids in high school communicate the most. I told him to email me if he comes up with any ideas. His response, “I don’t use email”. I was perplexed – so how does he stay in touch? Mostly text messaging and MySpace.

When we reviewed the visitor statistics for Soma, we noticed that their growth had flatlined – they had exactly the same number of visitors a year ago as they do today. Why? We did a little more digging and came to the conclusion that people used the website less and were hitting Soma’s MySpace page more. Soma had just thrown up a MySpace page because they heard lots of kids were on it – they haven’t really done anything to take full advantage of it.

So how does this affect our strategy for Soma’s website? It really turned everything upside down. Originally our focus was on revamping the website and creating a better email newsletter. But these two mediums turned out to be the least used method for the target audience. So instead, efforts are going to be focused on the way in which potential ticket buyers prefer to communicate: Text messaging and MySpace. Along with emailing out the newsletter, there are plans to allow visitors to sign up for text messaging alerts. Instead of having an informationless MySpace, we are going to try to get more people to “Friend” Soma’s account and use these friends to spread the word about new concerts through MySpace.

Understanding your audience is essential to any business, not just for your website.