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Document 360: #1 Knowledge Base Software

Evaluating the user experience of documentation -- Podcast with Bob Watson

by Tom Johnson on Jun 18, 2018 •
categories: user-experiencepodcastsstitcher

This week I chatted with Bob Watson, an assistant professor of tech comm at Mercer University, about how to evaluate the user experience of documentation. The idea of doing a podcast came up during a comment thread on a previous post about reconstructing the absent user. We had a long exchange in the comment threads and thought it would be good to have a podcast about the topic.

You can listen to the podcast here:

Here are a few questions we cover during the podcast:

  • Should tech writers do user testing and research, or is this product team’s job in designing the product?
  • Can’t we just leverage marketing personas for the user research we need?
  • How can looking at the market and product angles help clarify user needs and behaviors?
  • What kind of knowledge can we leverage from universal design patterns about how users consume docs?
  • How do we avoid hasty generalizations from a user sample that’s too small?
  • Is it feasible for tech writers to actually do user testing on top of all of their other duties?
  • How can you make feedback forms on docs more likely to get responses from users?
  • If you collect feedback at major milestones that users complete, how do you avoid just collecting responses from successful users?
  • How does Twilio successfully collect info from their users?
  • How can you successfully gather metrics that show user success or failure on tasks?
  • How can you make your feedback surveys specific to the data so that you get better responses?

For more information about Bob Watson, see his site, Docs by Design.

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About Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

I'm a technical writer based in the San Francisco Bay 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.

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