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>>>I am interested to know what methods some of you use to analyse your
readers\audiences when planning written documents. <<<
Joann Hackos included two excellent lists of questions in her new book,
_Managing Your Documentation Projects_, that serve this purpose well. In
general, her checklists cover the following ideas.
- Personal characteristics: gender, age, handicaps, preferred hand, etc.
- Subject matter questions: level of education, degrees, experience with similar
tasks, prior knowlege of the system, related personal interests, etc.
- Attitude questions: attitude toward learning the product, motivation, impact
on the user's job, etc.
- Language questions: special terminology, general language skill level, etc.
- Tool-use questions: reading level, preference for text vs. graphics,
preference for print vs. online, etc.
- Cultural and behavioral questions: effect of culture on use of the product and
environment in which the product is used, socioeconomic status, membership in
trade union or association, etc.
- Where will tasks be performed?
- What is the environment like (light level, hearing, noise, altititude, etc.)
- What time of day will tasks be performed? How often?
- Where will the user keep the documentation? (Nearby or not?)
I highly recommend this book -- it's got *lots* of good info in it. She spends
6-7 pages discussing audience and environment analysis. Book Info is: ISBN
0-471-59099-1, pub by Wiley & Sons, 605 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10158-0012.
ICS Deloitte - Chadds Ford, PA
71220 -dot- 341 -at- compuserve -dot- com