User behavior types vs. Hogwarts houses

Earlier this year, I wrote several articles on how to document user personas, Hogwarts style.

Like, there are Gryffindorian how-to steps 1-2-3 good to go pal whoo-hoo you’re done! Or, you can have this very thorough, do-it-at-your-own-pace Hufflepuff tutorials with follow-up tasks that guarantee to put you on your feet. For our Slythery audience, we offer several quick&dirty pro tips, no bull. And yeah, Ravenclaw guys, those appendixes with super-tricky scenarios are for you.

…what a mess of styles, huh? 🙂 Anyhow, choose your house, and I’ll tell you more about what docs you’d enjoy!

On the hush-hush side, I would love to write in an individual fun way for each of those houses. But since my invitation to Hogwarts has not arrived (yet!), for now, I am a Technical Communicator for enterprise software.

So, welcome to my world of neutral writing where jokes are not allowed.

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 I have been trying to do so, but was always tempted to add more colors to that gray, introduce some personality. I mean, take Gryffindors – careless, courageous, breezy… Shouldn’t the documentation for them have the same traits? 

But then, the problem I faced was: how many of my readers actually match that stereotypical user persona I have in my mind? I mean, despite belonging to Gryffindor, Hermione acts so much like Ravenclaw and Neville like Hufflepuff… Would they be comfortable with documentation Gryffindor-style?

I guess what I’m trying to say is that even within one industry, our users have now become so diverse that it’s hard to classify them. This means that we should write for that ‘average user’ not only because our tone & voice guidelines say so. Neutral style appears to be the only way to accommodate all of our users – messy, classy, and sassy.

The universal Hogwarts user would combine the personality traits of all houses.


This user would want a big picture AND geeky details, friendly tone AND professional attitude, simple examples AND complex what-ifs.

So, my point is, keep the user’s house in mind, but write for all houses. Target that universal Hogwarts user, and you will never miss!

OK-OK, that was Dumbledore’s wisdom talking. Time for mischief!!
Go ahead and choose your house:


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