Re: User-centered design

Subject: Re: User-centered design
From: Jerry Kenney <gmkenney -at- MINDSPRING -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 8 Feb 1999 22:23:40 -0500

Kristin Zibell wrote:

> How does a tech writer implement user-centered design techniques into their
> information development process?

I am amazed at how this thread quickly veered from Kristin's original inquiry.
Unless a tech writer writes for the sheer pleasure of it, everything you do has
a user attached to it. The user is NOT your supervisor, or the director, or
the VP, or even the CIO or CEO. The user is that human part of the system that
uses the system in a special way in order to perform work. User-oriented design
merely asks the question, "what does that schlump have to know in order to use
this system in the most productive way?"

If you have not yet thought of the user as part of the system (the most
important part), consider this: until someone turns it on, the system is
useless; until someone gives the system work to do, the system is useless;
until someone takes the work performed by the system and converts it into
economic goods, the system is useless. Those persons who turn it on, put work
into it, or take work from the system are all users. User-oriented design
provides them with documentary support presented from their point of view, no
one else's, and certainly not the machine's (function-oriented).

Hope this helps.

Jerry Kenney

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