SW Doc Audience Analysis Survey

Subject: SW Doc Audience Analysis Survey
From: Charles Fisher <FisherCD -at- AOL -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 11 Sep 1996 23:06:31 -0400

Software Documentation Audience Analysis Survey

I am currently working on my thesis in Professional Writing and Editing at
George Mason University in Fairfax, VA. My thesis involves tracing the
movement of information about the audience for software manuals to determine
whether there is a relationship between the source of the information and the
usability of the software. Please take a few minutes to read through these
instructions and complete the survey if you qualify. Test participants have
completed the survey in about 5-10 minutes.

Some questions ask you to select from a list of possible answers. For these
questions, please select the one answer that best fits your response.

Please do not respond to this survey if you have never written software
documentation. Also, PLEASE do not waste bandwidth by sending your responses
to the entire list. Reply directly to me with your responses.

The survey responses will be presented in aggregate form only; your
individual responses will remain anonymous. If you would like to receive a
copy of the results, please include your email and regular mail addresses.
The results will be available by January 1997. Thank you for your time.

Charles Fisher


1. Briefly describe a recent software documentation project in which you were
involved. Were you preparing a new manual or updating an existing one? Were
you developing the manual while the software was being developed or after the
software was developed?

2. What was your role in this project?
lead writer or only writer
member of a team of writers
other (describe)

3. Briefly describe the primary audience for this documentation project.

4. Approximately how many users made up this primary audience? Give the exact
number if you know it.

5. How much information about the primary audience was available to you or
your team?
A general assumption of who the users were.
A high-level user profile.
A detailed profile of a representative sample of users.

6. Who provided you with the majority of information about your primary
audience? Be sure to indicate YOUR source, which is not necessarily where the
information may have originated.
The primary users themselves.
Managers or supervisors of the primary users.
Another department or group within the primary user?s organization.
Another department or group within your organization.
Your manager or supervisor.
Not sure.

7. If the source of information indicated above was not the primary users
themselves, where did your source get its information? Again, remember that
this source may not necessarily be where the information originated.
The primary users themselves.
Managers or supervisors of the primary users.
Another department or group within the primary user?s organization.
Another department or group within your organization.
Not sure.

8. Was there anything significant in the audience information available to
you that influenced the way you wrote or presented the software
documentation? If so, what was it, and how did it affect your documentation?

9. Did you or your team conduct a formal audience analysis as a part of this
project? If so, briefly describe your methodology for gathering information
about your primary audience.

About You:

10. What is your age?

11. Are you male or female?

12. How many total employees work for your company? If you work as a
freelance/consultant writer, how many employees work for the company that
sponsored the project you described?

13. How many years of experience do you have in writing software
documentation? Please include only the amount of time in your career that you
spent writing software documentation. Do not include the amount of time spent
writing other types of materials.

14. What is your highest level of education?
High school.
Some undergraduate work.
Undergraduate degree.
Some graduate work.
Graduate degree.
Some post-graduate work.
Post-graduate degree.


That's it! Thanks for responding. And remember, PLEASE send your responses to
me, not to the list.

Charles Fisher
MA/PWE-to-be, George Mason University
FisherCD -at- aol -dot- com

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