Determining the Audience
Chances are that your site is intended for a particular audience. And within that audience there may be a number of variations of the type of user that utilizes what you have available to them. Part of the process of figuring out just who is that quantifiable quality is to look at how your company operates right now.
Who is this site for? Is it a part of a currently operating procedure? How can it apply here? Who are the people that are a part of this and how do their concerns become addressed here? Beyond an established audience, is there a potential group that has needs known or unforseen that can be addressed? And to what level might all of these needs be ranked?
While there are ways to gather details about the user, it has been found that many are annoyed and even scared off by some of these tactics. What we want to do is to create as pleasing and easy-to-use environment as possible. We must take into account the various capabilities of a public user as opposed to an internal site that can be calibrated to the company standard. Much can be assumed about the intended user according to how they might use the site. (Picture, if you will, the various audiences for a toy store site.) And therefore, certain assumptions might be made as to the appropriate approach in conveying what can be done for each of them here.
Catering to the user is the important thing here. There are a number of user studies available. Here are a few: