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Documentation Usability Techniques

Documentation Usability Techniques

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Published by Ranga Rajan

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Published by: Ranga Rajan on Feb 12, 2011
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Documentation Usability Techniques
Chauncey E. WilsonChaunsee@aol.comOctober 30, 1999
Method Focus Notes
Read and Locate Test General sense of ease onavigation and organization of informationNeed a fairly large sample and mustspend time on representative questions.Laboratory Testing Use to verify unique features oall types of Online Help. If performance isn’t an issue,participants are generally ask to“think aloud”Finding participants is the biggest issue.Can be used for performance testing (howfast, how many errors)Summary Test Use to see if users grasp keyconcepts (e.g., security)Users read a section of documentation andreflect back what they think it means.Scoring may not be easy.Usability Edit Detailed edit of instructions.User is asked to read throughtext and mark up things that arehard to understand, wordy,inconsistent, etc.Useful for procedural help to see if language is clear, anything is missing,terminology is consistentUser Interface Inspections Formal inspection of documentwith focus on usability,readability, and consistencyissues. A common UI designtechnique.Catches many details. Should have writersfrom different groups in on the inspectionto improve consistency. Requires someminimal training. Should not be the onlymethod used.Diaries of Documentation Usage Users keep a diary of their experience with thedocumentation (and product).Requires dedicated users.Audio Diaries Use audio computers found onmost computers to create anaudio diary.Need a microphone. Users can email their audio file to you. Easy to turn on and off.Can be used for surveys and diaries.Pop-up Web Surveys A window pops up once for eachuser asking if the user will fillout a short survey. If the personsays, “Yes”, the survey appears.A user only gets one instance of this.Seewww.surveysite.com for an example. Logging of Online Help Usage Wire up some customers so thattheir use of Help is logged.Have them send longs back oncea week.Security issues.  Must develop or purchase logging software that will log allforms of help usage and point to the topicof interest.Mark Up of Documentation Ask users to mark up the hardcopy with comments and send itto you.Requires some dedication and some mark-up training..Chauncey E. Wilson WilDesign Consulting 1
 
Documentation Usability Techniques
Chauncey E. WilsonChaunsee@aol.comOctober 30, 1999
Method Focus Notes
Read and Locate Test General sense of ease onavigation and organization of informationNeed a fairly large sample and mustspend time on representative questions.Laboratory Testing Use to verify unique features oall types of Online Help. If performance isn’t an issue,participants are generally ask to“think aloud”Finding participants is the biggest issue.Can be used for performance testing (howfast, how many errors)Summary Test Use to see if users grasp keyconcepts (e.g., security)Users read a section of documentation andreflect back what they think it means.Scoring may not be easy.Usability Edit Detailed edit of instructions.User is asked to read throughtext and mark up things that arehard to understand, wordy,inconsistent, etc.Useful for procedural help to see if language is clear, anything is missing,terminology is consistentUser Interface Inspections Formal inspection of documentwith focus on usability,readability, and consistencyissues. A common UI designtechnique.Catches many details. Should have writersfrom different groups in on the inspectionto improve consistency. Requires someminimal training. Should not be the onlymethod used.Diaries of Documentation Usage Users keep a diary of their experience with thedocumentation (and product).Requires dedicated users.Audio Diaries Use audio computers found onmost computers to create anaudio diary.Need a microphone. Users can email their audio file to you. Easy to turn on and off.Can be used for surveys and diaries.Pop-up Web Surveys A window pops up once for eachuser asking if the user will fillout a short survey. If the personsays, “Yes”, the survey appears.A user only gets one instance of this.Seewww.surveysite.comfor an example.Logging of Online Help Usage Wire up some customers so thattheir use of Help is logged.Have them send longs back oncea week.Security issues.  Must develop or purchase logging software that will log allforms of help usage and point to the topicof interest.Mark Up of Documentation Ask users to mark up the hardcopy with comments and send itto you.Requires some dedication and some mark-up training..Chauncey E. Wilson WilDesign Consulting 2
 
Documentation Usability Techniques
Chauncey E. WilsonChaunsee@aol.comOctober 30, 1999
Method Focus Notes
Read and Locate Test General sense of ease onavigation and organization of informationNeed a fairly large sample and mustspend time on representative questions.Laboratory Testing Use to verify unique features oall types of Online Help. If performance isn’t an issue,participants are generally ask to“think aloud”Finding participants is the biggest issue.Can be used for performance testing (howfast, how many errors)Summary Test Use to see if users grasp keyconcepts (e.g., security)Users read a section of documentation andreflect back what they think it means.Scoring may not be easy.Usability Edit Detailed edit of instructions.User is asked to read throughtext and mark up things that arehard to understand, wordy,inconsistent, etc.Useful for procedural help to see if language is clear, anything is missing,terminology is consistentUser Interface Inspections Formal inspection of documentwith focus on usability,readability, and consistencyissues. A common UI designtechnique.Catches many details. Should have writersfrom different groups in on the inspectionto improve consistency. Requires someminimal training. Should not be the onlymethod used.Diaries of Documentation Usage Users keep a diary of their experience with thedocumentation (and product).Requires dedicated users.Audio Diaries Use audio computers found onmost computers to create anaudio diary.Need a microphone. Users can email their audio file to you. Easy to turn on and off.Can be used for surveys and diaries.Pop-up Web Surveys A window pops up once for eachuser asking if the user will fillout a short survey. If the personsays, “Yes”, the survey appears.A user only gets one instance of this.Seewww.surveysite.comfor an example.Logging of Online Help Usage Wire up some customers so thattheir use of Help is logged.Have them send longs back oncea week.Security issues.  Must develop or purchase logging software that will log allforms of help usage and point to the topicof interest.Mark Up of Documentation Ask users to mark up the hardcopy with comments and send itto you.Requires some dedication and some mark-up training..Chauncey E. Wilson WilDesign Consulting 3

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