Re: Audience analysis and usability research after content is written

Subject: Re: Audience analysis and usability research after content is written
From: David Neeley <dbneeley -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com, Ilya Haykinson <haykinson -at- gmail -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 7 May 2010 09:43:03 +0300

Ilya,

In addition to the other (as usual) excellent advice given on
TECHWR-L, you have an advantage that many if not most of the working
tech writers on the list don't have: hordes of enthusiastic Ubuntu
users! A surprising number of them, in fact, would love to make a
contribution to the project but are not themselves coders.

I'd be willing to bet that if you did specific outreach to the various
Ubuntu blogs, mail lists, and support forums you could easily enough
enlist plenty of users with all levels of experience to go through the
manual to make comments and suggestions. In fact, if you do it right,
your biggest worry will become being able to sift through the volume
to find the most worthwhile suggestions.

To this end, I'd make this suggestion:

Rather than a wiki (or in addition to a wiki), why not create a
WordPress site with topics from the manual broken out into separate
pages. On each page, you could then have a simple poll containing some
basic responses: Was this topic helpful? Was it inaccurate? Was it
complete enough? Was it too complex or difficult to understand? You
get the idea...but I would make the first question a check box ranging
from "newbie" to "guru" or some sort, to give context for the poll
results.

Then, give the readers a feedback area tied to that topic...and with
most of the poll plugins, you can also show those who submit a
response the results thus far of the poll itself.

This sort of feedback could also be tied to an email address for
feedback when you think it worthwhile--which could also be the source
of an auto-generated "thanks!" letter for participants. The poll and
feedback together with the follow-on letter could stimulate further
enthusiasm and participation in the project.

I would also build in some sort of suggestions area for those nagging
questions that people come up with in day-to-day use but the answers
to which are often fairly elusive.

As for me, I have somewhat limited experience with Gnome--I work with
the KDE desktop for the most part. This machine, for example, runs
Kubuntu 10.04 at present. Would that you had a version of the manual
for the other flavors of the *buntu family!

David
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