Audience Analysis

Subject: Audience Analysis
From: The Tech Writer <techwrtr -at- CRL -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 16 Apr 1998 16:53:57 -0700

Ah, so refreshing to have some meaty topics these days. I think our
signal to noise ratio is going up quite a bit! I just wish that you had
changed the subject to make this new thread easier to follow....

> So, how do we get outside the box of our own experience when we analyze
> audiences?

I find that talking to tech support personnel is the best available
source for getting information about our average user. Even better than
talking directly to the user, since the tech support people talk to lots
of them on a daily basis...easier to get an overall feeling for things,
that way.

> How do we identify hidden alienating assumptions?

Ah, this one is *SO* important when it comes to training information. How
much can we assume that the user already knows? If we give them too much
information, then they're going to get bored/annoyed. If we give them too
little, then they're going to get lost. Usually you have to provide for a
wide range of audiences for this type of material. To compensate, adding
a "What you will learn" and "What you should already know (and if you
don't know it, here's where to learn about it)" sections on each module
of the tutorial/training material helps the user to determine what they
need to read, what they should skim, and what they can skip altogether.

-David Castro
techwrtr -at- crl -dot- com

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