Your great grandma lived here

Here are two articles:

“This is where your great-great-great-great (x 5000) grandfather lived!”


“Research examines possible homo sapiens origination site”

Which one seems more tempting to read?

There is no correct answer to that question. It purely depends on who you are. If you’re just a casual internet surfer, you may feel the first article is right for you. On the other hand, if you’re a researcher working on a report, and need a source of highly-specialized, elaborate to support a claim you’re making, the second article may seem be more appealing. You may be neither of these (like me), but you still may want to read one over the other.

The two articles cover the same topic; however, the big difference between them is the audience each targets. I made up the two articles above, but here are two real articles (pay attention to their titles):

Robot replicates how we may have evolved –

Robot Helps Study How First Land Animals Moved 360 million Years Ago –

If you read the articles in the order I posted them, you probably felt as though the second went far more in depth than the first. On the other hand, if you read the second one first, the first articles might have felt like a recap that lacked many of the technical details.

The second article, published on Georgia Tech’s news page, serves to inform readers (who are already interested in the topic) about progress made at Tech, and how it could affect this topic of study in the future. The article also assumes the reader enjoys reading some technical phrases, such as “granular surfaces” and “a mathematical model incorporating new physics based on the drag research”.

The second article also clearly wants to prove its credibility throughout. It mentions seventeen names of different institutions, societies and researchers. It even has a paragraph at the end stating the sources of the grants and funding for the project. Compare this to the one name mentioned in the first article.

The layouts of the websites also help answer the question of why the articles were written. The Popular Science website has many ads on the side and bottom, many of which seem like click-bait. The primary purpose of the article is definitely to enlighten some casual readers, but the secondary (and more hidden) purpose, is to generate revenue (through those ads).

The Georgia Tech website is hardly trying to generate money. The information in the side bars simply provide background information on the professors involved in the project, and their other research projects.

What is this (my) website trying to do? What kind of audience am I targeting?

[Hint: the answers are in the ‘About’ section]


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