One of the first things to do when you analyze an audience is to identify its type (or types—it’s rarely just one type). The common division of audiences into categories is as follows:
- Experts: These are the people who know the business or organization (and possibly the theory and the product) inside and out. They designed it, they tested it, they know everything about it. Often, they have advanced degrees and operate in academic settings or in research and development areas of the government and technology worlds.
- Technicians: These are the people who build, operate, maintain, and repair the items that the experts design and theorize about. Theirs is a highly technical knowledge as well, but of a more practical nature.
- Executives: These are the people who make business, economic, administrative, legal, governmental, political decisions about the products of the experts and technicians. Executives are likely to have as little technical knowledge about the subject as nonspecialists. For many of you, this will be the primary audience.
- Nonspecialists: These readers have the least technical knowledge of all. They want to use the new product to accomplish their tasks; they want to understand the new power technology enough to know whether to vote for or against it in the upcoming bond election. Or, they may just be curious about a specific technical matter and want to learn about it—but for no specific, practical reason. Chances are, these readers will represent your secondary audience.