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- By Michele Marques, Lead Information Developer, ITSM

 

Yesterday, I saw some signage in a cell phone store that got my hopes up - only to lead to disappointment. I finished my cell phone contract a few months ago, so I've been looking at different cell phones. Of course, I research online. But I also like to try the phone out in the store. Sometimes all you can do is hold them to see how they feel in your hand.Other times you can navigate the phone's menus or OS.

 

Yesterday, when I was in the cell phone store, a sign above a bank of phones said to pick up a phone to try it - or at least, that's how I interpreted the sign. I picked up the phone and tried to use the touch screen then pressed buttons. But nothing happened. Until I looked at the LCD above the bank of phones and saw information being displayed about the phone. I picked up another phone, and the display changed to information about that phone. Talk about disappointment! I could see all this information on-line. The only difference in the store was that I could feel the heft of the phone. However, I couldn't actually play with it and see how it felt to use the phone.

 

Have you run into signs that aren't clear?

 

Signs aren't so different from titles and headings in technical communication. These are some of the signposts that we provide to help our readers locate information quickly. If the signpost isn't accurate, our reader might remain lost.

 

Did you find some piece of technical communication and from the title think "That's what I've been looking for!" I hope your encounter with the guide, topic, or page was more fulfilling than my cell phone store encounter. If you have any examples of misleading - or really apt - titles, please let me know!

 

 

The postings in this blog are my own and don't nessarily represent BMC's opinion or position.
Michele Marques

What did they say?

Posted by Michele Marques Aug 20, 2010
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- By Michele Marques, Lead Information Developer, ITSM

 

Do you ever wonder if anyone is paying attention to what you write? When you leave comments, I know that you're listening - and joining in the conversation.

 

But how do you get feedback on your technical communications? So far, I've been mostly writing guides and help. If I wrote documentation on a wiki, customers could provide feedback on a wiki page. In the meantime, here are some of the ways that I get documentation feedback.

 

Conference calls with customers

Conference calls are great, because we can have a discussion. Some of the feedback is critical, but it's really helpful to find out exactly what works and what doesn't work. Sometimes you don't realize what customers are trying to do with your documentation until you speak to them. I find that it's best to limit the number of participants and also to focus on documentation for a few products. Otherwise, there's not enough time for everyone to participate or for all products to be covered.

 

Opportunities for face-to-face meetings

I don't think I have ever met a customer face-to-face solely for documentation. But there are opportunities in which I can join an already planned meeting. For example, if product managers or professional services are visiting a customer, I might be able to sit in on the visit. Of course, during these meetings, I am mostly sitting and listening. The main purpose of these meetings is to find out about the real-world environment and challenges for the customer, so that I can make sure that the documentation meets these needs. Usually, I can find some time during a break to ask about how they use the documentation and solicit some feedback.

 

At other times, I have attended user group meetings or new product preview sessions.

 

Doc defects and requests for enhancement

When a customer files a doc defect or request for enhancement, there's not always an opportunity to have a dialog. However, these requests can be very specific.

 

Any other ways to get feedback?

How do you get customer feedback on your documentation?

 

The postings in this blog are my own and don't nessarily represent BMC's opinion or position.
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- By Michele Marques, Lead Information Developer, ITSM

 

A couple of weeks ago, Mindtouch published a list of the 25 most influential technical communicator bloggers. If you're looking for something to read between my sporadic posts, you might want to try one of these blogs from the list:


 

 

The postings in this blog are my own and don't nessarily represent BMC's opinion or position.

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