Determine Your Audience

Mason's websites and pages are designed to reach out to specific sets of audiences, depending on which ones your unit serves.​

We like to say our audience is everyone, but not at the same time; you can't please everyone or reach everyone with every page. To provide users with a consistent experience that is intuitive and easy, you'll need to determine the primary and secondary audiences that you serve early in the site update/creation process.

Our overall strategy puts prospective students at the top as Mason’s primary audience, but others are also important, including:

Current Students Faculty and Staff

Prospective Instructional Faculty

Prospective Research Faculty

Parents and Families

Corporate Partners

Government Agencies

Non-Profit Organizations

Research Community




Virginia State Legislature

Peer/Partner Institutions

Academic Societies

Professional Organizations

Trade Groups

Neighborhood Communities

Each site will target its own set of audiences. Academic sites will be more externally focused, and will have some audiences in common (current and prospective students, faculty and staff, etc.). Non-academic units will likely have a different set of audiences. For example, ITS and Human Resources will be more internally focused.

Don’t try to be all things to all people on the same page. Focus on one or two at a time.

Your audiences are likely to have these questions:

  • Who are you?
  • What do you do?
  • What can you do for me?
  • How can I find out more?

Provide them with answers in short, conversational sentences. Don’t get fancy.

Another technique you can use is to ask yourself: What are the top five bullet points (20 words or fewer) you want each of these groups to find out when they come to your website? If you don't know, that's an area in which your unit needs to do some work — and where a goal statement can come in handy.