Sep 1, 2012 Ξ Comments are off

Audience Profiling

posted by Tenneti

What do you do after analyzing your audience? You have already classified your audience as technical experts, theoretical experts, and non-specialists. Is that sufficient enough to go ahead with your work? The answer is no. You need to assign one of these to your target audience and dig deeper to know more about your audience in specific terms. This helps you determine the context and scope and in providing you a clear idea of arriving at your documentation needs. To dig so deep, you need to do audience profiling.

Audience profile, in the context of technical documentation, refers to a collection of factors such as knowledge levels of the audience, knowledge needs of the audience, objectives of the audience to use your product, and other demographic factors that influence the usage of the product.

Audience profile, within the context of advertising and other fields, also takes into consideration all the demographic and psychographic factors such as age, gender, and the socio-economic attributes. You might need to prepare these audience profiles in a situation where you work on marketing collaterals and have little information about the target audience.

Why to create audience profiles?

You need to create audience profiles to:

  • Aid in establishing the scope and context.
  • Direct the information towards the target audience.
  • Focus on the target audience for identifying the right tone of communication for them.
  • Derive mental images of the diverse types of audience that you plan to cater.
  • Plan the documentation efforts in direction of the end user.
When to create audience profiles?

Remember that you do not need to create audience profiles for every release of a software or version or model of the hardware. You might need to update the audience profiles on the basis of changes in the overall planning and target market of the product. You need to create audience profiles only for the following assignments:

  • first documentation set of a new product
  • documentation set for a product that is overhauled
  • documentation set for new merged products of two different companies

However, you do not need to create them again if the product development teams already have an audience profile within their documents. More often than not, this is the case. You need to leverage upon the high level design documents and other use cases that already have the information. Such information should be helpful and you need not invest additional effort to add details, unless you are a part of the marketing team or you are involved in copywriting for the advertising material.

How to create audience profiles?

To create an audience profile:

  1. Gather the information from various such as the following:
    1. The marketing team about the typical users of the product.
    2. The strategic team or innovation team that initially came up with the idea of the product.
    3. Research articles available in the field.
    4. Analysis reports of similar products with the same company or competition.
  2. Group related features to form a sketch of the typical user by listing the attributes of all the users.
  3. List the information needs of the audience according to their details.

Finally, if there are diverse users of the same product, you need to create multiple audience profiles.

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