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When you're starting a corporate web site project and try to decide who your users are and what their goals are the list could be quit long. Whether you like it or not there will be a lot of different visitors with all kinds of needs.

What is the general approach to prioritize the target groups for a web site? How do you decide who should be a primary target group or a secondary.

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This is more of a business logic question rather than a UX one –  AndroidHustle Jan 26 '12 at 13:41
    
This question applies to UX, too. However, it's too broad and not constructive right now. –  dnbrv Jan 26 '12 at 13:47
    
Yes, it's broad but that's intentional. I'm looking for a starting point for a discussion. –  Tony Bolero Jan 26 '12 at 13:56
    
Just to clarify: do you mean an intranet or extranet ? ( sites to help the business and its customers carry out 'business processes') ? –  PhillipW Jan 26 '12 at 14:46
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@dnbrv By discussion I mean to start a discussion with the client or within the project group. Not here. –  Tony Bolero Jan 26 '12 at 15:08
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Tony, great question.

The general approach is to determine an objective standard by which you can measure different groups. To get that standard, you have to step out of user experience and into business analysis. There are multiple ways to define business value of a group. Lifetime Value (LTV) is a solid one.

With a standard like LTV, you can define groups in many ways: web analytics segmentation, market research, user feedback, data mining, etc. It's perfectly valid to define and combine them using any or all the different methods. It's also a perfectly easy way to get overwhelmed. Start simple, and focus on behaviors instead of groups.

Management should have an idea of their target audiences. Pick one. Determine what behaviors (e.g., sales) meet which business objectives* (e.g., $$$). Work backwards, determining which behaviors lead up to those. Behaviors which contribute directly to $$$ are called macro conversions. Behaviors that lead to macro-conversions are called micro-conversions. (e.g., account creations).

See also macro and micro conversions...

example macro conversion - orders

Once you determine the value of the group's behaviors, you can measure the value of the group. Better yet, you can use the same process to measure the value of another group... and another... and another. Put each group's LTV in a spreadsheet, sort by highest to lowest, and viola! You have a prioritized list.

This topic can also go much deeper through fields like business intelligence. For example, you can apply predictive analytics to find new groups or adjust existing ones based on the most valuable clusters of behaviors. Generating personas around the new high-LTV behavior clusters can inform high value UX design efforts.

It's getting late and my brain's getting too glazed to proof this well. Hopefully it makes sense!

* I'm assuming that management's business objectives/goals are SMART objectives, if they aren't, there may be bigger issues than audience priority, and that's outside the scope of this post.

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Focus Groups, Focus groups, Focus Groups.

Choose people from different demographics, those who are interested will put more into the focus group. Others who are not interested will not contribute.

Then you should have a clear Idea of who your website will cater for.

Remember to iterate this though, do multiple focus groups so you can refine your users/stakeholders and ensure you captured all their requirements!

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Thanks. My question is which groups to prioritize after this phase. Say that one type of user needs a function that will cost $100.000 and another type of user needs a function that will cost $10.000. Or serving one user group will save the customer service 1h a day. Questions like that. –  Tony Bolero Jan 26 '12 at 15:14
    
@TonyBolero How can anyone possibly know that without knowing more about the project, the feature in question, and the audience? –  Rahul Jan 26 '12 at 15:24
    
@Rahul There have to be some basic questions to ask yourself that is the same for every project. Some type of pattern. Some type of framework. When you are doing for example a marketing plan you'll have to ask who we're talking to, what should we say and in which channel should we say it and what outcome do we want. That type of questions. You can't just pick a couple of user groups and satisfy their need. There have to be some kind of organized discussion about how you prioritize them. –  Tony Bolero Jan 26 '12 at 16:03
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