Saturday, August 7, 2010

on audience

Coming across a Dr. Dobbs article with the headline Technical Writing for the Kindle and a Scriptorium blog post Retail therapy for tech comm (and I don’t mean shopping) during my browsing adventures in search of the magical convergence between technical communication and social media led me to a revealing insight into the current technical communication scene. We seem to be expending a lot more time and energy discussing tools and output formats than we do discussing and researching the changes in audience needs.

The audience for most technical communication has changed radically in the last decade. There are far more different types of users with different needs. Fewer readers have English as their first language. The Millennials have a shorter attention span than that of other user age cohorts. Software development processes are more collaborative. All of these things affect what content we need to present to the reader and how we present it.

We as technical communications professionals need to be thinking about writing for the reader, not just writing for the output device.

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