The Development Stage
Audience Analysis: Building Information About Your Readers? discusses your communication's complex audience and provides key questions you can ask to determine readers' needs, values, and attitudes. This section also provides useful charts to help you with your audience analysis.
Contributors:Allen Brizee, Dana Lynn Driscoll
Last Edited: 2010-04-21 08:20:26
A helpful way of gathering information about your readers is to conduct an audience analysis. Depending on the purpose and needs of your documents, you may perform a brief audience profile or an in-depth audience analysis (or something in between). You may expand or contract the following process to match your situation, but remember that the more you know about your potential readers, the more persuasive and user-centered your documents may be.
Some key questions (adapted from Johnson-Sheehan's Technical Communication Today) to ask about your readers are:
- Who are they?
- What do they need?
- Where will they be reading?
- When will they be reading?
- Why will they be reading?
- How will they be reading?
Meeting frequently (in person and/or virtually) with members of your audience to discuss their needs and expectations will also help you compose your documents. The following reader analysis chart (adapted from Johnson-Sheehan) is effective for investigating your audience:
How readers will use your documents is also important. This context analysis chart (adapted from Johnson-Sheehan) is effective for determining how your audience will use your documents:
In addition, determining where your audience sits in their organization may help you understand readers' specific needs. Drawing a chart of your communication's lifecycle will help you gather this information about your audience. The following graphic illustrates the development stage where you might be authoring a document with a team of people in your organization: