Skip to main content

Audience Analysis Overview

OWL logo

Welcome to the Purdue OWL

This page is brought to you by the OWL at Purdue University. When printing this page, you must include the entire legal notice.

Copyright ©1995-2018 by The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue and Purdue University. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, reproduced, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our terms and conditions of fair use.

In order to compose persuasive, user-centered communication, you should gather as much information as possible about the people reading your document. Your audience may consist of people who may have differing needs and expectations. In other words, you may have a complex audience in all the stages of your document's lifecycle—the development stage, the reading stage, and the action stage.

Development stage

  • Primary author (you)
  • Secondary author (a technical expert within your organization)
  • Secondary author (a budget expert within your organization)
  • Gatekeeper (your supervisor)

Reading stage

  • Primary audience (decision maker, primary point of contact, project lead, etc.)
  • Secondary audience (technical expert within audience's organization)
  • Shadow audience (others who may read your communication)

Action stage

  • Stakeholders (people who may read your communication, but more importantly, those who will be affected by the decisions based on the information you provide)

Keep in mind that documents may not go through a clear, three-step process. Instead, the lifecycle of your communication may consist of overlapping stages of evolution. User-centered writing calls for close cooperation between those who are composing the documents, those who will read and act upon the documents, and those who will be affected by the actions.