How to create a website for multiple audiences
An adult suspects that a child is a victim of sexual abuse. A call is made that starts a chain reaction of responses. Multiple authorities and agencies get involved in various aspects of the investigation. Each one wants to interview the child. That’s how it used to work.
It works a lot better now, thanks to the efforts of the Delaware County Children’s Advocacy Center. DCCAC provides a victim-focused response to allegations of child sexual abuse. Among other things, it ensures that the child is interviewed only one time. All of the authorities and agencies involved work through DCCAC, which coordinates the investigation.
DCCAC is a year-old program of the nonprofit Family Support Line (FSL), which has been advancing the prevention and treatment of child sexual abuse for more than 25 years. While working to launch DCCAC, FSL asked Hollister Creative to design the logo and a trifold brochure introducing the new center.
The next challenge was a DCCAC website. It had to serve the needs of two audiences: the families of child abuse victims and the professionals who serve them, including law enforcement, child protection agencies, prosecutors, mental health and medical professionals, and victim advocates.
All agreed that, for branding consistency, the site’s design would match the look and feel of the brochure, and pick up the messaging. So our collaboration with the client focused on deciding the best structure and functionality to serve the client’s target audiences as well as its unintended audiences.
While it might seem that the two target audiences would want to know different things, it turned out that their top three questions were the same: What does DCCAC do? How does its process work? What resources are available to help me? So we directed visitors to the answers in the top navigation and in three portals on the homepage.
It was also important to address the biggest questions of three unintended audiences who are likely to find the DCCAC website in an online search: those who want to report suspected child sexual abuse, those seeking treatment for victims and families, and those seeking immediate assistance in a crisis.
DCCAC is not authorized to accept abuse reports, so we put a “How to Report” item on every page. DCCAC doesn’t provide treatment, but FSL does, so we put a link to FSL in a “Where to Get Treatment” item on every page. For those who need help immediately, we put a big, red “Get Help” button in the page header and a link in the footer.
“Hollister staff helps us organize our goals and agendas. They worked with us to frame the structure so both the brochure and website would be easy to view and navigate. And, they were fun to work with!”
– Patricia Kosinski, Executive Director, Family Support Line
Three Quick Tips
If you are challenged to create a website for an organization that has multiple audiences, here are three suggestions to help you:
- Identify the audiences you want to serve. The site’s main purpose, of course, is to serve the organization’s target audiences. Will other audiences be drawn to this site by the nature of its content? If so, do you want to serve them, too?
- Respond to the top questions of each audience. Their questions may or may not be the same. The degree to which they overlap will help you decide whether the entry points on your home page should be labeled by audience or by the questions the audiences have in common.
- Make the navigation painless. If your audience is in pain, it’s the least you can do. But truly, every audience appreciates a simple, well organized website that makes it as easy as possible to find the information they came for.