RE: perception of user experience levels

Subject: RE: perception of user experience levels
From: "Carey Jennifer (Cry)" <jennifer -dot- carey -at- cdi -dot- cerberus -dot- ch>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 10 Dec 2002 16:58:03 +0100


The key word here is *assume*. It's virtually impossible not to make
assumptions about users. Not just about their background and experience
level, but among other things, about how they really use the product and
what they are trying to accomplish, which is one of the definitive factors
in establishing what the content of a document should be.

It's not only the SME's that have assumptions about the user, it's a lot of
people. A recent thread brought up the difference between Users and
Customers. This is important as often the people in your organisation who
seem closest to the end user are really only able to provide information
about the customer - ergo two more sets of assumptions.

Though it would certainly have a valuable impact on the product if the SME's
had this information, more often than not, they don't. What makes a good
developer or technician isn't always the same as what makes a good tech
writer.

The fact that you are in touch with training is a great asset. If possible,
I would recommend sitting in on a training and asking some of the attendees
for a brief interview. Talk to sales and marketing to understand what
documentation they use, talk to everyone you can to get a full view of how
the documentation is used (often it isn't just the end user that relies on
it), then as you perform your SME interviews you can describe the user to
them and help them better understand what you are trying to do with the
documentation and possibly even help them to make better decisions when they
are building the next product. As tech writers we are good at getting to the
heart of what's important and then communicating to the people it can help.

In fact, I just got out of a meeting with some of our installation guys to
understand their workflow and how documentation fits into that. We did the
same with the salesmen a couple months ago. I attended a training last month
and learned so much ...I had made my own set of assumptions. Now when I meet
with SME's I usually spend just a few minutes telling them more about the
end user. So far everyone has been pretty interested in knowing. Plus, we
both walk away from the interview having learned something.



-----Original Message-----
From: Sean Hower [mailto:hokumhome -at- freehomepage -dot- com]
Sent: martedi 10 dicembre 2002 16.27
To: TECHWR-L
Subject: perception of user experience levels




Lately, I've been noticing that some of the SMEs I work with assume our
clients are experienced users who, if they're worth what they're getting
paid, should already understand many of the intricacies of our product. Our
trainers say that many of our users have never used a computer before. I
find this contradiction interesting, if not annoying when I'm trying to get
information from the SMEs.

Anyone else run into this contradiction?



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