Defining your audience

Content management techniques

Defining your audience helps you answer the "Who are you writing the document for?" question and part of the "What level of detail are you going to use?" question.

A good audience definition should describe the type of person that makes up 80-90% of the user population. Most people will easily understand your document, but some need extra attention. These people usually only make up a small percentage of your audience. If you wrote a document to cater for all levels, 20% of your effort would cater to 80% of the audience, and the remaining 80% of your effort would cater to only 20% of your readers.

Your audience definition can contain the following information:

  • Level of education, including language skills
  • Fluency with the specific terms or technology of the subject matter
  • Age group
  • Gender
  • Ethnic and religious background

"Cultural" factors like gender and religion usually have an impact on how your document is read, regardless of any organizational sensitivity to different people's needs.