This article explains the different types of audience and the ways to identify the audience. You can classify the audience for your documents on the basis of these parameters:
- Knowledge level of the audience You need to gauge the expertise of the audience in the subject and classify people according to their knowledge levels.
- Demographics You need to know the demographics of the audience such as age, education background, and nationality to suit your writing style appropriately.
- Environment It is also pertinent to know where, when, and how the users are going to access the document. It is of no use providing Online Help to engineers who need to go to the client’s place and troubleshoot hardware issues. The availability of a computer is dependent on various factors in such a situation.
- Needs and expectations Your document must serve a need of the end user. Hence, it is pivotal to understand their needs. Once you begin listing their needs, you must be able to understand their expectations. Thus, you provide a solution to the audience and not just any document.
Classifying on the basis of knowledge level
On the basis of their knowledge levels, you can classify your audience into one of these categories:
- Technical Experts They already know the product and all its features. More often, they are either involved in its design and development and hence know. Likewise, there are other group of experts who have worked on similar products and need little introduction to the new product.
- Theoretical Experts These people have advanced degrees and diplomas and their field of operation is in an academic setting or in a research lab in government, profit, and non-profit organizations.
- Technicians They are responsible for the operation and maintenance of the product – hardware or software. They possess more practical knowledge when compared to the earlier experts.
- Non-specialists They possess little technical knowledge. They need to use the product to accomplish their tasks and use it to their advantage. Sometimes, they might also include a curious bunch of enthusiasts about a new technology.
- Mix of the above categories More often than not, the target audience for your document will be a combination or two or three of the above categories. To cater to both experts and novices, you can follow a safer approach. Assume that the user knows little about the product and technology. Then, you can be elaborate in your details to make the job easier for the user. A knowledgeable user might prefer to ignore sections that he already knows, while the non-specialist can benefit from the details.
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