User behavior types vs. Hogwarts houses (Gryffindor)

In documentation for applications that cover a wide market, we – Technical Communicators – often make it our point to target an ‘average user’. You know, the one who is neither too sloth nor too attentive, interested in both big picture and specific check box, and honestly, this list is endless.

But the majority of users does tend to lean one way or the other, follow a different ‘content beacon’.

Being a Potterhead, I could not help associating different user behavior types with Hogwarts houses.
And guess what – they match like the Weasley twins.

Sort your users and learn how to create a documentation that ticks for them!

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Background image by TheLadyAvatar.

Dominating user behavior

  • Noble, adventurous, love quests
  • Sociable, like to help and be praised
  • Confident, always sure of how to act
  • Chaotic, likely to leap before they look
  • Superfluous, have no time to waste

Digital homing area

  • Apps for the outdoorsy kind (fire rescue squads, pilots, wildlife TV shows)
  • Gaming software (car racing, medieval quests, shooters)
  • Online sports and prank shops

Preferred user assistance

  • Tooltips, walkthoughs
  • Short videos
  • E-learnings with instant rewards

Your most impatient and destructive plague of a user.

They will zoom in wildly, search for some nonsensical word combination like ‘what did she mean when she said I don’t have the snitches for it’, roar at the empty search results, and zoom out right away without realizing they were browsing an online microwave user guide instead of Google. Oh, by the way, G in Google actually stands for ‘Gryffindor’ and coincidentally for ‘Great’ which are actually synonyms. But of course, you knew that. And G-strings, those were invented by Gryffindors, too. That and more in Gryffidor’s feedback to your helpless user guide.

Defence Against the Dork Arts

What you need to capture that kind of user is chains and straitjacket instant attention grabber. A landing page, walkthrough, or pop-up help search box will best do the trick. Once you have their attention, a promise of danger and fun will lure them deeper into your content. Then – and only then – get to business . Preferably straight to step 1 – they’ll skip the intro anyway.

What is also important, give those lions their freedom to mess things up – never state that there is only one best way to perform a procedure. Just put out giant blinking warnings when really necessary and consider your content ready. You can count on your users to do a lion’s share of your work as they will most nobly help others and be superproactive on your application’s forum.

Coming next – SLYTHERIN!


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