I ran across a great post on Frank Chimero’s site recently in which he comments on Scott Berkun’s article, “You should ban “innovation” from your vocab” (also a great read). Frank’s thoughts on red flag words really, really resonated with me:
When asked who the audience is, they say “everyone.” This exemplifies a lack of focus. I usually follow this up by saying “If you’re talking about whales, would you talk the same way to a class of kindergarteners versus a class of Marine Biology majors?” Everyone doesn’t work. Making something for everyone makes it useful for no one.
I hear about this broad target audience of “everyone” way more often than I care to. One, because it’s easy (for the requestor, anyway). Two, because if you’re talking to everyone, that surely translates into more sales, right? If you aren’t sure of the answer to that question, read the previous quote again. Know your audience; I guarantee it isn’t everyone.