Re: Product/audience analysis

Subject: Re: Product/audience analysis
From: Donna Williams <r3592z -at- EMAIL -dot- SPS -dot- MOT -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 19 Mar 1998 12:53:54 +0000

I am currently doing research to produce an in-house document addressing this
issue precisely. I have come across a few helpful books ("User and Task
Analysis for Interface Design" by JoAnn T. Hackos and Janice Redish;
"Standards For Online Documentation" by JoAnn T. Hackos and Dawn M. Stevens;
and "Dynamics in Document Design" by Karen A. Schriver.)

As you develop a client/user analysis process, you may notice a strong
resemblance to the traditional software development process. There are a lot
of similarities in the approaches to both. Keep that in mind.

There is a lot of information on the web if you look hard enough. A couple of
Keywords/phrases to use are: "Questioning Techniques"; "User(Client)
Requirements Analysis". There are more, but they elude me at this moment.

Develop the "product" with the user's involvement. This needs to be an
ongoing, iterative process. If you are revising documentation, get as much
input from the current "product" users as possible. Their input will be an
invaluable asset to you in assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the
existing documentation. This is very good starting point.

As for gauging documentation effectiveness, you're correct in that it is very
difficult to assess. You can use an iterative form of "prototyping", with the
end users (of course), to judge if you're on the right track to developing
more effective documentation.

Good Luck,
I hope this helps you out.

Donna Williams

Kelly Williamson wrote:
> I've been assigned to a group to come up with ways to improve
> our documentation, including paper, online help, and CBT. The main
> problem we face is how do we gather information and/or
> analyze our current products to see where they need improvement.
> I know that audience analysis is the first, essential step.
> I've searched the archives, and while there is some information
> about audience analysis, I couldn't find anything very specific.
> Are there studies, guidelines, etc. on getting client feedback? I've
> seen opinions on the effectiveness of questionnaires, client visits,
> etc. but are there difinitive answers? How do you go about assessing
> or analyzing a product's effectiveness? And, how do you measure
> success? (i.e. was the re-design sucessful, and what is that
> based on?)
> Any help or information would be greatly appreciated.
> Thanks.
> Kelly Williamson
> kelly -dot- williamson -at- cbis -dot- com

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