Why audience-based content doesn’t (usually) work

Segmenting content on your intranet or website based on audiences confuses users. Here’s why.

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I gave teachers a task to put together a classroom exercise. I expected them to click on “teachers,” but they kept clicking on “students.” Why? Because even though they were teachers, they were using the website from a task point of view. They were putting together a student exercise and clicked on “students.”

With audience-based navigation you’re not sure if the link is for the audience or about the audience.

Audience-based navigation works well when the audiences are totally separate, meaning they have different tasks. So, there might be logic to audience navigation on a council website for “business” and “citizens.” It might also work on a tax website for “individuals” and “business.”

I worked with one government website that had links such as “seniors,” “women,” “disabled” and “minorities.” What if I’m an older woman who is disabled and part of a minority group? I saw an agriculture website that had links “farmers,” “exporters,” and “researchers” as links. What if I’m a farmer who exports and want to do research?

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