Effective communication depends largely on understanding your audience. Your audience’s expectations, characteristics, knowledge level, and information needs determine the content you choose to present, the depth of detail you provide, the overall tone or attitude of your writing, and even the purpose you establish for your communication. As in the Bayer aspirin examples in Chapter 3 of your textbook (Laura J. Gurak & John M. Lannon, Strategies for Technical Communication in the Workplace, 3rd edition, Pearson – 2016) shows. Information on the same medicine can be presented quite differently depending on the audiences’ knowledge levels. That is; the one designed for a general audience uses straightforward, non-technical language, and colorful visuals to make the drug information more comprehensible, and the desk reference designed for health care professionals uses highly technical language, complex statistics, and less visuals to establish a professional ethos of the drug.
In addition to knowing the importance of analyzing audience, you should also be able to distinguish a document’s primary and secondary audiences. Primary audiences are the major intended readers for your document. In the workplace, your primary audience is the person or persons who will understand and act on your message. Secondary audiences are the other potential readers of your document. These are people who may receive a copy of your document. Most workplace communication has a combination of primary and secondary audiences. For example, people attended your presentation (primary audience) might later share information about your presentation and your handouts with people who didn’t attend (secondary audience).
For this assignment, choose two Websites that present information on the same subject. However, the two Websites should be aimed at different primary audiences. One of them should be designed for a non-technical audience (such as WebMD, http://www.webmd.com/) and the other for a specialized/professional audience (such as the National Institutes of Health, http://www.nih.gov/). Write a memo to your instructor analyzing both Websites and their audiences (primary and secondary) and explain the persuasive strategies each Website uses to serve its primary audience’s needs. Synthesize your analysis to the following questions:
- What primary audiences does the two Websites seem to aim for? What kind of knowledge do the audiences seem to possess about the subject matter? What are their age(s), genders, education level, occupations, and cultural background? (Just because a Website is available on the Internet does not mean it is designed for everyone. You need to think carefully and find out the specific primary audience that the Websites aim to serve.)
- Who are the secondary audiences of these Websites? Who else might use information found on this site?
- What persuasive strategies do the Websites employ to appeal to their primary audiences? Do they use claims? Do they make an effort to connect with the audience? (See pages 58-63 of your textbook for more on persuasion)
- To what extent does the Websites use technical language? Do you see any examples of jargon? List examples.
- How long is the average sentence in each Website? How long is the average paragraph? Does this tell you anything about the audience?
- How formal/informal are their respective style? Why?
- Is there advertising? If so, what do the ads tell you about the audience?
- Does the Websites use tables, graphs, or figures? How different are they on two Websites? What do they accomplish?
• Keep in mind that your purpose is to contrast the two Websites, not merely to describe them.
• Do not simply type the questions followed by your answers. Like all professional memos, this one should summarize and organize the information into coherent and well-written narratives.
• Use a business memo format. You can use a memo template in Word.
• Minimum word requirement: 850 words
• Complete in MS Word.
• Make sure to include the Websites’ URLs in your memo.
• Completeness (10 pts): The analysis addresses all questions for analysis.
• Organization (10 pts): The analysis is well organized. It has a clear structure with anintroduction, a body, and a conclusion.
• Comparison and Contrast (30 pts): Your memo includes a clear analysis of the two web sites, including comparison and contrast of the sites themselves and their target audiences. It does not just describe.
• Support (30 pts): The analysis is concrete in that it uses examples from the Websites to support major points. The use of examples is selective and to-the-point. The examples are included in order to illustrate the analysis point and not to fill the page with words. There are no long direct quotations (defined as more than 3 lines) from the analyzed Websites. The
student explains how the examples relate back to the analysis.
• Format (10 pts): The memo is formatted correctly following the specified guidelines. APA citation style is used when needed.
• Grammar and Mechanics (10 pts): Spelling, grammar, and punctuation
are correct. Minimum word requirement is met.