Audience analysis

From ArticleWorld

All technical writers must perform an audience analysis in order to ensure the intended audience will understand the information being presented. This is often called the who, what, when, where, and why. The audience is often referred to as the end user.

Defining factors

  • - Age
  • - Culture
  • - Education
  • - Language
  • - Needs and Interests
  • - Job function
  • - Skills
  • - Background knowledge
  • - Training
  • - Method of delivery (print, online, projection, PDA, etc.)
  • - Where the documents will be read
  • - Why the document will be used (training, reference, etc.)
  • - When the document will be used (work, travel, or home)

Once all of these factors have been taken into consideration, the project is much more likely to be effective.

Simplified English

One good example of how an audience analysis helps shape the way information is presented is simplified English. This was originally developed for use by the aerospace industry, in their maintenance manuals. Some say simplified English reduces ambiguity and helps improve comprehension, for people whose first language is not English. They also say it makes translation easier, and less costly. Industry regulated, the aerospace standard is not mean for general use. The United States government’s ‘’plain English’’ is less restrictive, and is a more general writing standard. The Gettysburg Address is an early example of, beautifully executed, plain English.