How to define your target customer and design for them

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“Who is your target customer?”

I come across many clients who either cannot answer the question, or reply “Everyone”. And I’m not even sure which one is worse for their business. When you are paying money to design a new product or re-design an existing one – it is a big commitment. Not only from the financial perspective, but most importantly – from the reputational. Your current customers may be averted from your new look & feel; and potential customers may not find it appealing. This isn’t the situation you want to find your business in. So, before embarking on the journey of branding, design and UX mapping – read the list of tips to define your target customer. I’m also providing a print-ready questionnaire  – by all means, a document you should fill out and share with your designer as part of your creative brief.


I am making an assumption that you already know your target customer. But if not: make sure this demographics is as narrow as possible. Think “bold strategic move” with your product design which targets a narrow sliver of customers, who you know will love it; rather than creating a bland generic product that won’t appeal or stand out to anyone.

If you are expanding your net to acquire new customer groups – this could be the time to rethink elements of design and overall messaging to appeal to a larger group of people. Having said that, chances are that your new customer segment is somewhat related to your existing customers, so it will be a question of change, rather than a complete overhaul.

Questions to answer:

How old is my target customer?
What’s their gender?
Where do the live?
What do they do for living?
What’s their income?

Products they like and dislike

Do your research and understand products your customers already use and why. Understand the product: whether it is packaging or UX & customer journey. These are not your competitors products: think a freelancer who subscribes to Asana, and you’re building a payment app for freelancers and digital nomads. Two unrelated products, but understanding why they like Asana (hint: functionality and easy UI!) is probably why they might turn to your product, too.

Questions to answer:

What products my target customers currently use and why?
What are the design features (shape, colours) of those products?
What problems these products solve?


This is something either your designer will help you collate or if you’re feeling like a creative-brief hero: put it together yourself and your designer will thank you and as a result produce beautiful, well thought-through design.

You must remember that you are not creating of what you like, but rather – what your customer likes. Whether these are existing products, colours, styles – you must research into their likes and dislikes in order to come up with that. However, if you can afford to, you can either outsource completely or work together with your designer to paint a full picture of your customer.

Questions to answer:

No questions here. Go to Google/Pinterest/SiteInspire and create 2 moodboards for 1) products and 2) look & feel that your customers already like.


This is one of the most, if not the most, important areas. Emotions: chemical reactions in the brain are the driving factor in how we make decisions. Although logically, the more expensive your product, the more your customer will ponder before making a purchase, but we often make snap judgements based on our perception of trustworthiness from the first time we encounter the person or company selling it. If your customer sees a crooked website with displeasing colours and outdated fonts, you won’t easily convince them in your product that will change their lives. Nowadays, people are spoiled by beautiful design, so expectations on your product being not only functional but also beautiful are very high.

Delight and excitement are the emotions that are good to target – start with that. Field research is a good measure of that: find a group of your target customers and observe / ask about their emotions while they are using your product.

Questions to answer:

Does current design of my product/website delight my target customer?
What do I want my customers to feel when they encounter my product or service?
How can I please and delight my customer?
What mindset they are in when they use the product?

Routine and habits

Think about when does your customer come across your product or service. What was their journey to arrive to your app or in what situation they would see your logo? Do they see in the morning – if so, the design should be whatever feelings that person would feel in the morning: happy, or groggy, or need a coffee. Do they see it in the evening – if so, should the design invoke the feeling of calm and serenity, coziness? Do they see your product after work – and therefore should either switch their mind off-work or remind them of some pain points they experience in the office? Are they seeing it during their commute and if so — which feelings they have at that point?

Once you identified those feelings: appeal to them. Either resolve the pain points with a solution that your product offers, or delight them when they are bored. This logic will drive your design: where to place a button, or which colours to use. For example: a commuter app would have the button reachable easily for the one-handed usage. Touch ID for payments. Food delivery service with clear imagery of delicious meals.

Questions to answer:

At what time of day does my customer use my product?
Where did they come from and where are they going to afterwards?
How can I make the process of using my product easier?
If I should absolutely cut down 2 steps from my customer journey – what would those be?

Frustrations and pain points

These are different from the pain points and frustrations that you are resolving for your customers with your product. These are purely design-oriented pain points.

This is what your customer dislikes in similar product to yours, or entirely unrelated products. This could be colours, complexity of the user journey, too much customisation (yes, there can be too much choice!), availability etc. To come up with the right design for your product, you need to look into the frustrations that your customers are currently experiencing and make sure these are absent from your product.

Questions to answer:

What do customers hate about the products they are using and why?

That’s all.

Here is a print-ready Customer-centric design Questionnaire for you to download and complete.

Finally, reach out to me for a 30 minutes product review call and see how your product aligns to your target audience.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]