Thursday, February 12, 2009

Don't educate...learn!

Earlier today I came across the following post on a Tech Doc related discussion list.

We still use X and while we (the tech writers) think they are useful, I think our users mostly rely on Y. We've attempted to educate our users on the value of X, but based on the questions I get I don't think a lot of our users think of using X on a regular basis.
(AJP - Quote edited to remove names of specific processes)

Wow - so if I get this straight, the users of the information like to use it one way (Y), but the content creators think they should be using it another way (X) so they make every effort to "educate the users" as to how it should be done.

If the majority of the people who uses your content are following the same behavior pattern, isn't it better to look at why they are doing that, and the value that THEY find, rather than the value that YOU think is there.

Learn from your customers. Find out why they prefer Y to X, and then do what you can to make Y even better. If that means dropping process X, then do so.

Those of you who have heard me talk will have heard this before, but the documentation industry is not about us as content creators, it's about our customers and how they access, assimilate, and use that content.