Do users have to search at all in future?

In pursuit of the ultimate techCom information architecture

One of the main reasons behind users not using the manual, when experiencing problems in product use, is because the manual is perceived to require too much effort to use. A user that encounters a problem and starts to seek for help, has a certain level of motivation. Thus the user is willing to invest a certain amount of energy in finding the answer(s). If the perceived effort of using the manual is higher than what the user is willing to invest, the manual is not used.

If there are other information sources, such as an on-line community, a colleague etc where information can be obtained more easily, users will use them in favor of the manual. The manual often becomes the last resort depending on how many other sources are available. This behavior means that the main challenge for technical communicators is to design documentation that means as low effort as possible for users in terms of finding the needed information.

The effort to use the manual must be perceived to be much lower than compared to "competing" sources such as internet, colleagues etc. The user must probably perceive the search effort to be almost zero to make the manual become an option. This blog post describes a future manual in which user do not have to search: the automagical manual.

Read the entire article here. Focus Areas: BPEL | DITA | ebXML | IDtrust | OpenDocument | SAML | UBL | UDDI
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