Re: Seeking Online Help Surveys Advice

Subject: Re: Seeking Online Help Surveys Advice
From: Keith Mahoney <kamahoney1965 -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: mbaker -at- analecta -dot- com
Date: Tue, 12 Jan 2016 12:18:44 -0800

Interesting topic. Personally, I hate taking surveys and don't unless
forced. So what do *All Y'all* do to gather user/customer feedback
regarding stratification with online courses, help, documentation?

I've been wondering how to gather feedback from folks - esp. those that are
around the globe and not easily cold called.

KAM

On Tue, Jan 12, 2016 at 8:34 AM, <mbaker -at- analecta -dot- com> wrote:

> David,
>
> What you are really looking for is the right patterns for your help
> content.
> What needs to be in, what can be left out, what should be linked to, what
> order should it be in, how should it be expressed. The problem is, how do
> you determine which patterns work. Some approaches are:
>
> * Surveys. Cheap, but with all the problems that have been mentioned.
>
> * User testing. Develop a pattern, test it, improve it, repeat. Great if
> you
> can afford the time and money, but even so hard to reproduce work
> conditions
> in a lab.
>
> * Feedback forms. Cheap, but response rates low and hard to evaluate what
> "Not helpful" means.
>
> * Metrics. Look at usage patterns on you website (if your help is web
> based). But hard to interpret. Is people spending a lot of time on a page a
> good thing or a bad thing. Are the most used pages simple the pages that
> describe the most badly designed features?
>
> * Study successful patterns on the Web. The web is a content pattern
> factory
> and refinery. Study StackOverflow to determine what questions people ask in
> a similar field to yours, and what sorts of answers they like best. Study
> Wikipedia to see how the patterns for describing different subjects develop
> over time.
>
> * Practice the task. Do the task yourself and see what information you
> really need to complete it. Have several people do it and look for common
> and outlying information needs.
>
> I believe the last two are the best source of information we have for
> improving our topic patterns. The others may all have their uses,
> particularly to test some of the patterns we develop through observation
> and
> practice.
>
> Mark Baker
> Author: Every Page is Page One: Topic-based Writing for Technical
> Communication and the Web (http://xmlpress.net/publications/eppo/)
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: techwr-l-bounces+mbaker=analecta -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
> [mailto:techwr-l-bounces+mbaker=analecta -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com] On Behalf
> Of David Renn
> Sent: Tuesday, January 12, 2016 10:30 AM
> To: Peter Neilson
> Cc: TECHWR-L (techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com)
> Subject: Re: Seeking Online Help Surveys Advice
>
> >
> > What matters, therefore, is not how your help system is organized, but
> > how well you pages work when people come to them like this, and how
> > well linked they are so they can follow the information scent were it
> leads.
> >
>
> So if this is the case, how can we survey---or perhaps better put,
> analyze---our users' satisfaction, user-experience, and efficiency in
> finding the information they need?
>
> If not a survey form, then what might be some even more useful tools to
> learn about our audience to provide them better content in a quicker, more
> convenient fashion?
>
> The only thing I can think of is user-testing, but that would very likely
> be
> difficult for my team to set up. Surveys are at least cheap and easy,
> albeit
> maybe not as accurate and truthful.
>
> On Tue, Jan 12, 2016 at 3:59 AM, Peter Neilson <neilson -at- windstream -dot- net>
> wrote:
>
> > On Mon, 11 Jan 2016 23:51:21 -0500, Janoff, Steven <
> > Steven -dot- Janoff -at- hologic -dot- com> asked:
> >
> > So the holy grail is to write the perfect or ideal single page for the
> >> topic you're dealing with.
> >>
> >
> > This grail is fragile. The next writer to touch the page with
> > corrections may lack the ability to retain the polished jewel that you
> > created, or even may be tasked with expanding it to contain material
> > that you deliberately left out.
> >
> > In my experience it was the latter. The very next person on the
> > project was told to single-source the help pages, and simply imported
> > all the page images of the printed manual. (This was about 30 years
> > ago.)
> >
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References:
Seeking Online Help Surveys Advice: From: David Renn
Re: Seeking Online Help Surveys Advice: From: Peter Neilson
RE: Seeking Online Help Surveys Advice: From: mbaker
RE: Seeking Online Help Surveys Advice: From: Janoff, Steven
Re: Seeking Online Help Surveys Advice: From: Peter Neilson
Re: Seeking Online Help Surveys Advice: From: David Renn
RE: Seeking Online Help Surveys Advice: From: mbaker

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