What is the value of audience to technical communicators a survey of audience research
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What is the Value of Audience to Technical Communicators? A Survey of Audience Research. Author: Rob Houser Summary of article by: Jeny Carrasco September 15, 2004. Outline. I. Introduction II. What is audience? III. How has rhetoric treated audience? A Classical Rhetoric

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What is the Value of Audience to Technical Communicators? A Survey of Audience Research

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What is the value of audience to technical communicators a survey of audience research

What is the Value of Audience to Technical Communicators?A Survey of Audience Research

Author: Rob Houser

Summary of article by: Jeny Carrasco

September 15, 2004


Outline

Outline

I. Introduction

II. What is audience?

III. How has rhetoric treated audience?

A Classical Rhetoric

B New Rhetoric

C. Expressivist Rhetoric

D. Neo-Classical Rhetoric

IV. How has technical Communication treated audience?

V. What is the value of information about audience?

A. Learning to be more user-centered

B. Improving Design

C. Planning Future Usability Investigations and Setting Usability Standards

D. Building Theories of Audience

VI. Conclusion

VII. Importance to technical writing


Purpose of the article

Purpose of the Article

  • To provide a definition of audience and describe its different categories.

  • To emphasize the importance of audience response to technical writing and communication.

  • To describe how analyzing audience response can improve technical development and design.

  • And to identify new directions for research about audience and its effect on technical writing.


What is audience

What isaudience?

  • As described by Rob Houser, audience is the real and imagined readers or users who use text or products to work in their own environment.

  • Real readers/users: are the actual people that can be interviewed and observed in their workplace performing a task.

  • Imagined readers/users: are the ones that we picture in our heads during the design process.

  • In general, they are the ones who will use our products to complete a task or solve a problem.


How has rhetoric treated audience

How has rhetoric treated audience?

  • Classical Rhetoric – during this time, audience were consider to be the ones who determine the speech’s end and subject.

  • New Rhetoric – writers were more focus on the style and arrangement of their writing.

  • Expressivist Rhetoric – rhetoricians of the 20th century were interested in self-discovery.

  • Neo-Classical Rhetoric – was the returned to the classical roots, where the audience played and important role in the creation of the writing.


How has technical communication treated audience

How has Technical Communication Treated Audience?

  • In technical communication, the audience is a key to effective design.

  • In the 80’s and 90’s, the audience was viewed as active learners, and the writers had the responsibility to learn about how the audience learn, work and interact with text.

  • Technical communication emphasized the collaboration between writers and readers. Writers designed their text with the help of the readers’ feedback.


What is the value of audience to technical communicators a survey of audience research

The following image illustrates how technical communicators interact with the real and imagined audience throughout the development process.


Three methods of analyzing audience

Three methods of analyzing audience:

  • Classification-driven – makes assumptions of the audience by asking the writer to reflect on the characteristics and demographic data of the audience.

  • Intuition-driven - focus on the writer’s experience with the audience. This experience will guide writers to make improved decision about the final product.

  • Feedback-driven – relies on the interaction of the real audience with the product. It studies the usability of the product.


What is the value of information about audience

What is the value of information about audience?

  • Learning to be more User-centered – to get a better understanding of the users’ needs, problems, preferences and situations that could influence the design of our product.

  • Improving Design – by observing the audience’s behavior.

  • Planning Future Usability Investigation and Setting Usability Standards – Test planners can improve their test questions, test their assumptions and create more accurate user profiles.

  • Building Theories of Audience – User protocols can contribute to the productions of long-term theories.


Conclusion

Conclusion

  • Audience – are all individuals (real and imagined) that interact and influence the way we design and develop our work.

  • Our perspective towards audience has changed through time and continues to make notorious impact in our technical development.

  • We must consider and observe audience’s interaction with our products in order to understand their needs, problems and expectations.

    Questions to think about:

  • As developers, what is our responsibility to audience?

  • What is our relationship to audience?


Importance to technical writing

Importance to Technical writing

Knowing our audience helps to:

  • Select the appropriate writing style.

  • Develop more useable documents that meet the audience’s needs and exceptions.

  • Improve our writing through constructive feedback.


Reference

Reference

Houser, Rob. “What is the value of Audience to Technical Communicators?: A Survey of Audience Research”. Sept. 6, 2004.

<www.userfirst.net/audience.htm>


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