Podcast: How to Create User-Centered Documentation, Interview with Joe Sokohl
Duration: 15 min.
In this podcast, Joe Sokohl explains how to create user-centered documentation by contacting, observing, and interviewing users to gather information about what types of information they use and the help deliverables they actually want.
In his experience, Joe found that almost no one used the user manual, but instead wanted quick information for specific tasks. The users hated stand-up training with PowerPoint slides (what the execs thought users needed), and instead wanted hands-on experience with the real system.
Creating user-centered documention requires technical writers to break the standard (and ridiculous) rule of not contacting the user, to get out of their shells and interact and interview others, and to often challenge standards and assumptions from executives. It may be hard, but doing so is essential, because if you end up creating the wrong deliverables, all your efforts to create help may be irrelevant and useless.
In the podcast, Joe recommends a number of books:
- About Face, by Alan Cooper (cooperdesign.com)
- The Design of Everyday Things, by Don Norman
- Emotional Design, by Don Norman
- Observing the User Experience, by Mike Kuniavsky
- Communicating Design, by Dan Brown
- Blueprints for Information Architecture, christina Wodtke
- Information Architecture for the World Wide Web, Peter Morville and Louis Rosenfeld
About Tom Johnson
I'm a technical writer based in the Seattle area. In this blog, I write about topics related to technical writing and communication — such as software documentation, API documentation, visual communication, information architecture, writing techniques, plain language, tech comm careers, and more. Check out simplifying complexity and API documentation for some deep dives into these topics. If you're a technical writer and want to keep on top of the latest trends in the field, be sure to subscribe to email updates. You can also learn more about me or contact me.