Audience profiling has been an essential ingredient to successful advertising and marketing for decades. It’s predicated on the the simple fact that one size doesn’t fit all, and understanding your audience – their backgrounds, attitudes and values – allows you to personalize your messaging and connect with them more successfully.
You should have the same goal when designing learning experiences – to communicate with your audience as effectively as possible so they walk away with a deep understanding and strong retention of the concepts you're trying to convey.
Fortunately, with a few subtle tweaks, audience profiling can be used to help you reach that goal.
Audience profiling is generally accomplished by analyzing two types of data: demographics and psychographics.
But as learning experience designers, you're not done there. In addition to these factors, you also need to take how well your audience learned and retained the concepts from your past courses – as well as how they felt about them – into account.
That means reviewing the tools you used to check your students’ understanding – quizzes, tests, project assignments, etc. – and the course evaluations you gave them when they were finished. (You give them those, right?)
Once you've gathered all of your valuable demographic, psychographic and past-course information, then you can divide your audience into practical segments and decide how to create a nuanced learning experience that will be as meaningful and effective and possible for each learner.
This doesn’t require building unique experiences for each group from the ground up, but rather tailoring aspects such as language, tone, media and activities that check for understanding to reach the individuals in each segment and help them comprehend and retain the concepts as effectively as possible.
We all know that audiences are comprised of unique individuals, so it only makes sense to do our best to tailor the content of learning experiences as best as possible to accommodate each one.
While creating different version for each team member would be impossible, creating a few nuanced ones aimed at a handful of thoughtfully created audience segments is not only feasible, it’s necessary.