Know Your Audience
When speaking, it is important to know who you are speaking to; it's the same case online. However, in addition to altering your wording and phrases, you need to change your look as well. Web users vary in how they want the information displayed, how well they can navigate, and how they view the online world. Once you figure out your demographic and survey your audience, you can create a persona, something that Redish describes as "an individual with a name, a picture, and specific demographic and other characteristics."
This fictional representation of reality allows creators to target their designs to best fit their audience and consequently raise page traffic. Redish discusses how these personas become a part of the web teams, and are referred to throughout the process. The teams go as far as to purchase mouse pads and place mats with the personas pictures on them to constantly remind the designers who they're catering to. To me, that seems a little creepy, but I can see how it would be effective in adequately designing the site.
From the personas, designers need to create scenarios that are applicable to the personas. These vary greatly, and each one needs to be addressed. They can help you understand all types of web users, and your entire website needs to cater to all of the scenarios and your entire audience. Have you ever been on a site that you felt was clearly targeted towards a demographic different from your own?
When it comes to presenting your website to the appropriate audience, you must also consider that most people make judgments immediately, and thus your home page must set the tone. If it is aesthetically pleasing while also being simple enough to understand (depending on your scenarios). What is the first thing that you notice when you visit a site? Are you more likely to continue using it if it is visually appealing and difficult to follow, or vice versa?