Niching Down for Audiences

Week 6: 

This week we are thinking about audiences! Taking into consideration your audience is one of the most important aspects of creating content. If no-one engages with your content then what is its purpose? I think neglecting the importance of audiences is a major pitfall of beginners. Today I’ll be talking a bit more about my intended audience and how it has influenced my content. 

Who is my audience? 

So far I have been imaging my audience as potential recruiters for design jobs and other similar recruiters. I talked a bit about how I wanted to structure my audience away from promoting freelance jobs in my first process post Done is Better than Perfect. In this, I mention wanting to establish myself as an experienced design before offering freelance opportunities on the side. This being said I have been focusing my website on a very specific group of people most as a supplement to my resume. 

For me, the purpose of my portfolio is to show recruiters that I have design skills and can apply design thinking to solve problems visually. Almost every design position requires a portfolio submission so that employers can see the quality of work you are capable of and your process of design rationale. They want to be sure that if hired you are capable of completing the job. Often in design interviews, you are asked to walk through your portfolio pieces and describe how you came to the solution you arrived at. I am making the portfolio so that I have detailed case studies about the best projects I have worked on. 

Niching Down:

However the market is starting to become niche and standing out as an overall designer, is almost impossible. Many people in the industry recommend picking a specific field within the design community to excel in. I have found this concept nerve-wracking because I am unsure about which design concentration I want to specialize in. I’m sure this goes far beyond just the design community, trying to figure out what you want to do for the rest of your life is intimidating! I started with wanting to study animation and film, to work a Disney or Pixar animation studios. This is still a dream job, but I’m not sure I want to still work in animation as it relies heavily on artistic ability and traditional art. I’m not entirely sure how suited I would be for this type of niche environment anymore. From here I moved on the graphic design. Graphic design has been my passion for the last 6 years. I love everything about design. Originally I had been interested in print design, but it seems more and more than print design is going out of business. There is something really special about holding a physical copy of your designs, whether it be magazine layouts or book cover designs. But I don’t want to be entering a dying field, I’m just not just how much opportunity is available. Now I think I want to work on web design and development projects. Since starting university I have begun to like programming. Programming requires problem-solving in a very analytical manner, there are a structure and process to do things. It can be extremely frustrating to debug code, but it is also one of the best feelings in the world to do it successfully. Web design still includes some aspects of graphic design that I love while also combining web development and aspects of programming. 

The current problem I’m facing regarding niching down to a specific audience is that I don’t feel that I have enough of a grasp to call myself a specific designer and that I don’t want to close my door on all the other opportunities. Currently, my portfolio showcases a bit of everything I’ve worked on. I’ve tried to position myself as an all-around designer with multiple skills and interests, whom it motivated by exploring and learning. 

How does my audience impact my design?

Because I want to use my portfolio in a professional design setting I have designed my site to have a professional voice, and have structured content to highlight my design thinking and process. Each post has a specific structure that first displays the final project and then how the final design was conceptualized. This means that I can showcase my design thinking skills. I have used a template that supports a portfolio grid so that employers immediately get a sense of the designs that I can create without the need for further navigation. Most of these design decisions are made so that recruiters and employers can scan my website quickly and efficiently. Recruiters look at hundreds to thousands of portfolios a day and thus I want them to be able to easily access my content before they move onto the next person. 

Where does PUB101 fit in? 

Admittedly because the main purpose of my website is not meant for PUB101 I haven’t optimized the design choices for my classmates to find my material. This is something I didn’t think of until the past week when I saw the second peer review. I noticed that my second peer review also commented on the lack of navigation by the hamburger menu. I plan to go into more detail about this next week but it got me thinking about how my classmates perceive my website. It is very different from the traditional blog requirements, which means that people might have a difficult time critiquing it as a portfolio rather than simply a blog. Also, the way I have structured my website makes the publishing content the least important aspect of the website. I didn’t think about how this could affect my classmate’s perception of my website since I want the focus to be on my portfolio. I am still not sure I want to change this structure as I believe it works for my specific scenario, but I am worried about how the class will interact with it.  

I hope that this portfolio will be able to land me new opportunities!