Are we all electrified when we write for an audience?
In Clive Thompson's Smarter Than You Think, this was certainly the case for Dorothy Burt's students who were not only "electrified" to be writing for an audience who wasn't required or paid to read their work, but more critical of their work and the work of others. When they received comments on their work, it sank in that another person was being affected by their writing - and this lit a spark. An audience to hold you to a higher standard causes you to hold yourself to a higher standard. An audience raises the bar.
I think it is impossible not to consider your audience in your writing (and/or designing), especially in today's digital world. Writing for an audience motivates you to do your best, to grab and keep the attention of your audience. It also guides your writing style, different audiences require different rhetoric. How you write for a research paper for your professor will not be how you write for a travel blog for your peers.
Personally, I'm guilty of tailoring my writing to please my audience. I chose to write a final paper last year about how I hated the show Girls and thought it was hindering the feminist movement. I love Girls. But, I knew my teacher would enjoy it so I bit the bullet. Though I felt a little guilty (sorry Lena), I received a 100% on the paper.
Sometimes adapting your writing to your audience can be beneficial. Just don't completely lose yourself in the process. Some of the best writing is the writing we do for ourselves.