In documentation for software that covers 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 the big picture and a specific check box, and honestly, this list is endless.
But the majority of users does tend to lean one way or the other and 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 documentation that ticks for them!
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Dominating user behavior
- Seemingly messy and disorganized, but somehow know where every scrap of paper is
- Logical and structural to the core
- Adamant in their academic pursuits, often quirky ones; originators of unconventional ideas and methods
- Competitive when it comes to intellectual games, as well as marks and points
- Witty in an intellectual way, possessors of refined humor
Digital homing area
- Scenario prediction and prognosis apps (in stock exchange, trading, risk calculation, natural disasters, you name it)
- Big data analytics tools, organizers, tracking apps
- Smart houses, smart watches, anything smart, really
Preferred user assistance
- Printable all-in-one guides and manuals
- Structured data presentation techniques (tables, charts, etc.)
- Puzzles, riddles, brain-stimulating quests
- Video tutorials in the ‘live streaming’ and ‘whiteboard’ styles
Of all user behavior styles, Ravenclaws are the most curious ones, so creating documentation for their kind is certainly a worthy pursuit.
A word is useful while it conveys a meaning, so we will attempt to stay meaningful.
What interests Ravenclaws in documentation
(as stated by a Ravenclaw)
A problem lies heavy on my mind.
Heavier than the Chicago Manual of Style.
How to perform a procedure…
I already see at least 3 ways to accomplish the task.
But which is most efficient?
Spare the mundane options, I have already calculated them in my mind.
Tell me something that I don’t know.
Is your shoe size 6.5 going on 7? Guessed as much, but it’s irrelevant at the moment.
Nail the procedures – regard all possible options from various angles.
Emotion is a waste of breath and energy.
Cold and dry facts will suffice.
Each procedure has a logical explanation:
where it originates and where it meets its end.
That’s the circle of life.
What are my logical steps to follow?
Brief, matter-of-fact instructions will do.
Tune out the noise.
Spare me the biased assumptions.
Gender, age, nationality, they do not matter.
We’re all equals in our essence.
Don’t bother asking if the topic was useful.
I read it till the end, didn’t I?
What REALLY interests Ravenclaws in documentation
(as stated by other houses)
Though everything stated above makes sense, a document ideal in all those respects is somewhat utopian.
In her TechComm 201 training, Leah Guren aptly stated that given a standard amount of time, we can produce a 90%-perfect document. To push those 10% of excellence, we’d need the same amount of time. And this is a luxury that we rarely have.
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Other Hogwarts houses came up with a few fun tips on how else to intrigue a Ravenclaw:
- Pin them down with optical illusions (they can stare at them for hours).
- Add a quirky math puzzle like ‘how many calories would a female zebra burn during a 5.5-minute hula hoop practice’.
- Place the ‘Approved by the Ministry’ stamp on the front page. The respect that Ravenclaws have for authority is unmeasurable. Well, technically, it can be measured if you’re into that kind of thing.
Anyway. You got the idea.
I could ask you if you found this article interesting.
But you’ve read till the end, haven’t you? 😉