Audiences and Engagement: Digital Public History Projects

This module explored the importance of understanding audience when designing a digital public history project.

Audience seems to be a key difference between general digital humanities projects and digital public history projects. Digital humanities projects seem to be by academics, often for academics (not always true, but many are). Though digital humanists make sure to know their audience and who their projects are focused towards, digital public historians need to understand their audience even more. When the public is the audience, designers of digital public history projects must spend a good deal of project planning time in attempting to understand all aspects of their audience.

Understanding the audience of your project will help you provide the best user experience possible in your project. Ultimately these projects are for the public and the better tuned they can be towards the public, the better.

Some of the best ways to learn about your audience is through interviews. Interviews, if they use appropriate questions, can highlight trends in potential users and what they are looking for in digital projects. They can even help elucidate parts of your own project that you had not considered, or help you decide on an aspect of your project. Some digital designers also choose to create personas for their project. Often based off of interviews with their target audience, personas help designers synthesize their audience and keep in sight the goals of their project.

By utilizing interviews and personas, the designer of a digital project will be more “in tune” with their audience and will create a better project in the end.

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