Re: Setting criteria for end users

Subject: Re: Setting criteria for end users
From: John Posada <jposada01 -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 29 Oct 2004 13:23:44 -0700 (PDT)

> This is my first post. I'm interviewing end users to improve the
> help file
> in a database program. What we want to do is take the data from the
> interviews and set each user in a specific category. I was
> wondering if
> anyone had a faormula for setting criteria to different levels of
> users.


You are entering an area that had guided the development of our most
recent software applications.

Interaction Design, as described by Alan Cooper, has you create what
are called personas. A persona is a typical user...we have four major
ones and a couple of miner ones:

Mackenzie: The typical software asset manager
Phillipa: The average system administrator
Fred: The typical network manager
Carlos: The typical contract manager

We created these personas after over a year of interviewing users in
our field, before ANYTHING was created on our end in the way of
application specs or code. The idea is not to create them based on
what you know, but what they actualy do. An extreme example: It may
be discovered that the typical user never prints something from an
application, but always exports data into Excel. In that case, the
application may not have a print button, but in-place of a Print
button, an Export button.

We actualy have pictures of these people framed and placed in our
hallways with the banner "Our Customers". (By the way....Mackenzie is
a babe)

Even though we've created these people, every time we want to develop
something in an application, we ask the question "Would Mackenzie use
the application this way?" or "Does the feature help Phillipa do her
job?" If the answer is No, we don't include the feature or implement
it that way, no matter how cool it may be or how much Product
Engineering (PE) wants it.

In meetings, we actualy refer to these people during the discussions:

PE: "I want to implement the [feature] this way."
Us: "What would Mackenzie say about that?"

I could write on and on about this, but it's already been done. I'd
suggest you check out a book "The Inmates are Running the Asylum";
ISBN: 0672326140

John Posada
Senior Technical Writer

Do You Yahoo!?
Tired of spam? Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around


ROBOHELP X5: Featuring Word 2003 support, Content Management, Multi-Author
support, PDF and XML support and much more!

WEBWORKS FINALDRAFT: New! Document review system for Word and FrameMaker
authors. Automatic browser-based drafts with unlimited reviewers. Full
online discussions -- no Web server needed!

You are currently subscribed to techwr-l as:
archiver -at- techwr-l -dot- com
To unsubscribe send a blank email to leave-techwr-l-obscured -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Send administrative questions to lisa -at- techwr-l -dot- com -dot- Visit for more resources and info.

Previous by Author: RE: The End Of Technical Writing
Next by Author: RE: Another question to ponder
Previous by Thread: Re: Setting criteria for end users
Next by Thread: Follow up on Balloon Help for Web-application

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads