Documents for multiple audiences

Subject: Documents for multiple audiences
From: John Bell <jbell -at- PARAGREN -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 14 May 1998 15:08:17 -0400

We make data mining/extraction software for marketing. Our perception of
our audience was that we had three levels of users at each client site:
* marketers (not very technical, use only the high-level functions)
* Power Users (very technical, use all functions, act as interface between
marketers and DBAs)
* DBAs (Don't really use the product, but are responsible for connecting it
to their data warehouse, RDBMS, and for setting up user accounts)

Now that we are selling to more customers we are looking to re-define our
view of the customer base. As it turns out, in some companies there are
people who do more than high-level functions (marketers), but don't use
some of the very complex functions (the realm of the Power Users). We are
trying to decide how to meet the needs of all our readers. So far we have
five suggestions for handling this. I'd like some feedback as to which
methods are likely to be winners or losers.

1) Keep producing three documents (high-level, all levels, and DBA-level).
Let the "tweeners" get by as they have been; by asking the Power Users
for help.

2) Keep producing three documents, but copy some of the power user chapters
to the marketers book so they overlap. This will help the ambitious
marketer to become more of a power user.

3) Produce one big book and give it to everyone. They will read what they
want and ignore the rest.

4) Produce "focus booklets". These are little saddle-stitched booklets that
each cover one aspect, function, module, whatever. Each booklet covers
its topic in full, you should never refer from one to another. Each
booklet has a distinctive colored stripe to make it easy to identify
from the stack. Each reader gets the entire stack in a slip case and
like option #3, they can each decide what they want to read, and what to
ignore.

5) Produce four documents, the base three plus a new one to cover the
"tweeners". Remove that material from the Power User book, and let
the customers choose which books they want.

I favor option 5, but not strongly, which is why I want/need your input.
A side issue is what to name each document. Currently we call the marketers
book the "Business Analyst Guide", and the power user is the "Analytic
Designer", and the DBA is the "Technical Designer". I think these "job
titles" are not helpful. Someone suggested "Level 100", "Level 200", and so
on, but that sounds too sterile. Ideas?

Thanks in advance!
--- John Bell
jbell -at- paragren -dot- com




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