Kirk from Star Trek saying Yes We Khaaaaan!

Specking and trekking: Teacher response to module #2

Business Keeping

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The Importance of Specifying Product Information for Specific Audiences

Product specifications are all around us. We use them to determine the safety, compatibility, usefulness, and many other attributes for products we use on a daily basis. Many of them are written by developers of products however and thus contain a lot of extraneous information not useful for users. Think about a computer. Do you need to know every specification for it? Or just the ones that will affect your use of it? And yet most computers advertised contain a variety of jargon-laden specifications that the vast majority of consumers can’t make heads or tails of.

Sometimes specifications are partially controlled by regulating agencies, but regardless, they should always be designed for specific audiences, not a general, “public” audience. They should provide specific audiences with necessary information not alienate them with jargon.

Why Users Trek Through Documentation

When designing tasks, it’s important to remember why users go to documentation in the first place: to accomplish goals and to alleviate pain points. If something is obvious, then the documentation isn’t needed. It’s when a product fails, when we can’t figure out how to do something with it, or when we are trying to figure out advanced features that we got to documentation.

This is why it’s important to design tasks that deal with common paint points for a product. If you don’t know what the pain points are, you should find out. The best way to do this is by talking to real, live users. You should never just try to document every single task for a product, because that will just create needless documentation that users have to wade through.

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