RE: perception of user experience levels

Subject: RE: perception of user experience levels
From: "Domaschuk, Rob" <Robd -at- datalogics -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 10 Dec 2002 09:45:00 -0600

Sean asks (rhetorically, I hope):

> Anyone else run into this contradiction?

Oh Lordy, yes!!

Usually, my first warning is the phrase "Well, I know what our users need"
or the lesser-used "I know who our users are..."

I used to take the word of the trainer over the developer, since the trainer
is the one who meets and talks with the user more often. However, I've now
come to the realization that many trainers, like many tech writers, only pay
lip service to the idea of getting to know the users before delivering their
product. This means that, although trainers may be in front of real users,
their training, and consequent perspective, could be built on assumptions.

I am a firm believer in a process called field visits, wherein users are
visited in their own work place and how they use the software/hardware/etc
is recorded, as well as the physical environment in which they use the
product. This can deliver some powerful realizations. For example, how
useful are those cute little audio warnings? They may seem great when the
software is designed in a quiet office, but when the software is used on a
noisy shop floor, they're meaningless.

Maybe a screen is designed that is a little complex and too full. In the
quiet row of developers, it is not seen as a problem since they are not
faced with a lot of interruptions. See that software in use by an
administrative assistant whose phone is ringing every 30 seconds and people
are constantly stopping by, and the need for simpler screens (where the
person can resume what they were doing faster and easier) becomes apparent.

Once you collect this info, do an in-house presentation and show people who
your users are, and eyes are opened very quickly!!!

Of course, there is a lot more to it than I've described in two or three
paragraphs, but you (hopefully) get the point I am trying to make.


Rob Domaschuk | 312.853.8337 - p
Technical Writer | 719.623.7431 - f
Datalogics, inc. |

"In the bodies of old men wine lingers on,
attracted by the dryness there."
- Plutarchus

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