I'm giving a presentation to the STC Silicon Valley chapter on October 21 titled "Why Users Can't Find Answers to Their Questions in Help Content." Here are the details:
Monday, October 21
6:00–7:00pm: social networking
7:00–8:00pm: my presentation
1909 El Camino Real
Redwood City, CA 94063
(There's a side room in this restaurant where we can meet.)
For more information, see the October meeting announcement on the STC Silicon Valley chapter site.
Here's what I'll be presenting:
Why Users Can't Find Answers to Their Questions in Help Content
One of the main goals of help material is to help users find answers to their questions, but so often this doesn't happen. Users foray into the help muttering under their breath only to leave it cursing vocally afterwards — because the help didn't answer their question, or at least the user couldn't find the answer. Why not? Why is it so hard to guide users to the right information when they need it?
I recently conducted a poll on my site — http://idratherbewriting.com — asking tech writers to rank the top reasons (from 20 listed) why users can't find the information they're looking for. After 130 voters, about 7 reasons trended to the top with the most votes:
In this presentation, I'll lead a discussion to analyze these reasons, explain why they pose the challenges they do, present potential solutions, and more. In so doing, I hope to address the root of why so many users feel disdain and apathy towards help material.
Note: I'm planning to record the audio of the presentation and make it available on my site for those of you who can't make it.
I'm giving a similar presentation to STC Berkeley in November and to STC Sacramento in January.
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I'm a technical writer based in the California San Francisco Bay area. Topics I write about on this blog include technical writing, authoring and publishing tools, API documentation, tech comm trends, visual communication, technical writing career advice, information architecture and findability, developer documentation, and more. If you're a professional or aspiring technical writer, be sure to subscribe to email updates using the form above. You can learn more about me here.