Goal Statement


The goal statement is a brief, maybe two paragraph description of the project's objectives. Despite the short length, preparing the statement may require weeks or months of self-reflection and analysis. A well-written goal statement should target the following:

  1. Purpose
  2. Audience Statement
  3. Brand Description


The statement of purpose should be a short phrase or sentence stating the exact reason for the project's existence.

What is the reason for creating the project?

Thinking of setting up a portfolio to get hired for a job? Consider these two scenarios:

Scenario #1. Person 'A' sets up a site to showcase college project work. The completed site has a sampling of projects from a variety of classes, and blog posts about daily activities so friends and family can keep up with their college life. Junior year, they will share the site with prospective internship employers, hoping a hiring manager will like the work and have an opportunity to get to know them well enough to want an interview.

Scenario #2. Person 'B' sets up a site to showcase work done in college. They aren't sure exactly what they want to do, and wish to keep options open. But they did enjoy working on a student documentary, so they researched internship jobs and hiring managers at documentary production companies. Their finished website included an excerpt from the student documentary, and a statement explaining their exact role. The job description for several internships included grant writing and other administration tasks. They didn't write grants for the class project, but did for another student organization, so they included that in the site as well. After finding out exactly what managers look for when making hiring decisions, they added web copy to target those specific concerns.

Who gets the job interview, any why?

The student in the second scenario made a clear choice to target a specific job.

They might be concerned about limiting opportunities by focusing the site on documentaries. However, content can convey that documentaries are ONE of the student's interests, not the ONLY one. Hiring managers from other specialties may recognize the student's passion and the effort put into understanding the hiring process. Many are willing to request additional information to determine the fit of exceptional students they encounter.

The student in the first scenario really wants a job, but created a site better suited to staying connected with friends and family. There is nothing wrong with wanting to maintain friedships and relationships. When chosing a purpose, there are no limits or restrictions. Once selected, however, all other choices should serve that purpose. Other goals - like finding a job - would become harder to achieve.

Sample statements of purpose:

  • Get hired for an internship
  • Stay connected wtih friends and family
  • Sell a product, service, or event
  • Recruit members for an organization
  • Provide entertainment
  • Tell a personal story
  • Education students
  • Make a persuasive political argument

Audience Description

The audience description should include demographics details and other characterstics the targeted people have in common, to clearly define who they are and what they are like.

Who is the project for?

Trying to identify your target audience? Consider these two examples:

Scenario #1. Person 'A' creates an interactive project they believe will be enjoyed by young adults who like dark comedy.

Scenario #2. Person 'B' creaes an interactive project they believe will appeal to college educated people ages 20-29 from a racially and socio-economically diverse inner city, as the dark humor will be drawn from characters with similar similar background they can relate to.

Which project gets more attention?

The problem with the first scenario is different dark comedies can appeal to different demographics within the larger pool of young adults. Some taboo themes would draw a very different group of viewers than a kid-friendly dark comedy targeting young families. There is a famous quote: You can't please all of the people all of the time. That problem can easily undermine a finished project.

Knowing the EXACT audience will make it easier to make design choices appealing to those specific people. Just like with the statement of purpose, being specific isn't as limited as it seems. Focused work that is exceptional can reach a crossover audience, but unfocused work is less likely to appeal to anyone.

Describing the audience in sufficient detail could be difficult. Students may not yet be familiar with hiring managers in their chosen field. Specificy industry research may be needed to learn more about the audience.

Details included in audience descriptions:

  • Specify relevant demographics: age, gender, income, race, education, location
  • Identify their wants, needs, goals, attitude, values
  • List websites and social media sites they use
  • Describe their level of technical knowledge and skills

Brand Description

The brand description should express the creator's personality and value offered, espcially noting how these are unique or different from competitors.

What unique value and characteristic do you offer?

Consider these three biographies:

Statment #1. I do high quality vintage furniture restorations. I care deeply for every item I work on and will treat yours with the same love and reverence that you have. If you choose me, you'll see why I have earned exceptional praise for my craftmanship.

Statment #2. I am a vintage furniture restorer who cares deeply about the past. From years of membership in the Greater Boston historical society, I gained a deep appreciation for 19th and 20th century farm pieces. Using only tools and materials from the same time period, I can return your furniture to the condition my great-great aunt enjoyed in her central Massachusetts farm.

Statment #3. My quirky vintage furniture restorations save badly damaged and decaying items from the trash heap. New life is breathed into chairs, tables, and scrap materials, even if they have to be turned into a completely orginal work of art. Creative repuposing with a showman's flair is how I won last year's first prize in the furniture category at last year's Southern New England Antiques Show. I look forward to your toughest salvage projects.

Who attracts more interest, and why?

The first statement contains many empty platitudes that could be written by anyone, even someone with no knowledge of furniture restoration. While it may all be true, the accolades cannot be verified, so the audience will trust the statement less..

Another problem with the first statement is a lack of differentiation from other craftspeople. While treating furniture with love and reverence is a memorable and descriptive, everyone in the business is expected to have a passion for vintage furniture. Readers have no way of determining if this person is the right fit for their specific project.

The second and third statements identify unique professional memberships and awards that could be verified. Both statements express the craftperson's personality and specialties, along with geographic location, which is neccessary to determine fit for this type of work.

Sometimes people worry about crafting a strategy that is too specific, which could exclude potential opportunties. The first statement does imply an openness to any type of restoration project. But consider this from the point of view of the customers. Someone needing authenticity for a site on a historical register would choose person #2. Someone looking for an unusal piece to liven up a new home would choose person #3. Neither would choose person #1. In the end, a vague and open ended strategy results in the fewest number of opportunties.

One final consideration is checking that the brand will appeal to the target audience. If there is a mismatch, either the brand or target audience may need to be adjusted.

Sample questions for describing a specific brand:

  • How would you describe your personality, values, and style?
  • What are your specific interests and skills?
  • How are you unique and different from competitors?
  • What you offer that others don't?