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Wikimedia Foundation/Communications/Audience research/Process

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Audience research: Process


Through a set of five Audience Definition Workshops,[1] this project has begun to understand...

  1. Wikimedia Foundation teams’ current perception of their audiences:
    • How they define and segment their audiences;
    • How well they believe current audiences are being served;
  2. Wikimedia Foundation’s current approach to audience development:
    • How teams gather information about their audiences;
    • How teams incorporate information about audiences into their work;
    • Challenges to understanding and serving various audiences;
  3. Gaps in Wikimedia Foundation’s understanding or servicing of audiences that prevent the Foundation from achieving its mission.

This information is helping the cross-functional Audience Development team develop a framework to guide audience research and engagement. This framework will attempt to map audience segments based on factors such as: geography, motivation, behavior, acquisition pathways, barriers to access, workflow, brand awareness, language / reading levels, tools used, communication methods, and how well they are served. Within this framework, we will also identify:

  1. Strong areas of understanding;
  2. Knowledge gaps;
  3. Possible priorities for near-term research and engagement;
  4. Potential lines of inquiry for audience research;
  5. Opportunities and challenges for integrating audience research into Wikimedia’s processes;
    • Recommendations for mitigating challenges in audience research when implementing through processes and resources;

In the near term, this will help the Wikimedia Foundation…

  1. Develop a common language and framework for thinking about and engaging various audiences;
    • Socialize and communicate framework organization-wide;
  2. Determine how best to focus Wikimedia time and resources, alongside community efforts, to conduct audience research;
  3. Guide generative audience research on priority audience segments;
  4. Define processes for audience development within various product teams.

In the medium term, this will help the Wikimedia Foundation...

  1. Apply audience insights to organizational and product strategy and development;
  2. Better integrate audience research and user-centered design approaches in how it develops products;
  3. Develop communications strategies (messaging, media channels, etc) to increase awareness and improve understanding of Wikimedia products; and
  4. Develop partnership strategies to improve reach of and engagement with Wikimedia products


October 2016
Five Audience Definition Workshops (2 cross-functional and one each with Reading, Discovery, & Editing teams)
November 2016
Map of Audience Understanding Today; Create high-level Framework of Audiences & Stakeholders, and supporting tools (i.e., Checklist of Audience & Stakeholder Data, Resources to Build Audience & Stakeholder Understanding)
December 2016
Socialize and iterate on map, framework, and tools
January 2017
Finalize framework for segmentation to inform generative research; Plan for forward work
February 2017
Strategic planning for product generative research


  1. These workshops were conducted in the weeks of October 17 and 24, 2016, with three product teams (Discovery, Reading, and Editing) and two cross-functional teams.