The people behind the study, Ray Gallon and Neus Lorenzo, came up with a list of “superpowers” with which content creators (including, but not limited to technical writers) can improve the content they deliver and the way they deliver it.
As I ponder this, I notice that some of the superpowers are rooted in a common objective: knowing our audience so well that we can deliver exactly what they need, when they need it. The superpower of mind reading, for example, would let us know essentially everything about our audience. Things like:
- The job they do
- The task they’re trying to complete
- Their domain knowledge
- Their cultural preferences
- Their disabilities and limitations
- Their socioeconomic status
- The hardware and software platforms they prefer
- The choices they’ve made in the past
The list could go on. But you get the idea: if we want to know our audience, there’s a lot to know.
Even though the information industry has made great strides with things like web analytics and inference engines, I think it’s obvious that we’ll never know everything about our audience. Especially since each member of our audience presents a constantly moving target. For example, think of how much you’ve changed in the last year or so in terms of reading habits, or domain knowledge, or experience level with a particular software program.
That’s not to say we shouldn’t try to know our audience. It’s just that we’ll never know our audience perfectly. We’ll never fully be able to mind-meld with them.
It follows, then, that we’ll never be able to give them perfectly tailored content precisely when they need it.
So what can we do? Continue reading