Creating a user document requires that a writer must know whom they are writing for in order to produce effective materials. Getting a complete description of the reader or the user of the product should always be the first step in creating a user document.
This article would introduce the four aspects that define your target readers. It also tells how you could use these information in creating user documents that could effectively help out the product users.
Why is it important to know your reader before creating a user document?
The answer to this question is very simple. The writer needs to keep the user in mind while creating a user document mainly because the material is being made specifically for them. The way you structure the document and your choice of words would vary depending on your target audience. For example, using jargons and technical terms without explaining them to users who absolutely have no idea what you are talking about is just a waste of time and effort. So, before creating a user document, you should have a solid understanding of the user or reader.
The four dimensions that define your reader
The marketing team or the product development department should be able to give you a complete description of the product’s target user. You will then use these information to create an accurate analysis or conception of your reader based on the following dimensions before creating a user document.
Skills of your reader. Identify the skills that the product user has. Do they have the prerequisite skills needed to understand the user document? If not, list down all the skills that you expect your target audience to have. This would enable you to include the necessary explanations in creating a user document.
Attitude of your reader. What do you think is the reader’s attitude while reading your user document? More often than not, most users feel angry or impatient because he or she has to read the user document instead of actually using and enjoying the product. Others may feel scared or desperate especially when the product is not working the way they expect it to. In creating a user document, you should show compassion for your target readers and fashion your material in such a way that it appeases their fear or urgency.
Knowledge of your reader. What prior knowledge should your readers have to be able to understand your user document? If there are certain background information that you expect them to know before reading your material, then you should include where they could get those information when creating a user document.
Experience of your reader. Do your readers need certain experiences in order to understand what you are writing and how to use the product? How do you think would the product change the way he or she does things? If previous experiences have some negative impact on understanding the material and using the product, then make sure that when creating a user document, you would address such problems.
Creating a user document for the sake of the user
By combining the background information about the typical product user and your analysis using the four dimensions, you would be able to create a Persona that represents your ideal user document reader as accurately as possible. While creating a user document, you have to keep this Persona in mind, including all his or her background, socioeconomic status, education, interests, skills, attitude, knowledge and experiences. As you write your material, imagine that you are communicating with this Persona and ask yourself if the topics you are including are appropriate or lacking. Would he or she easily understand what you are writing based on the terminologies you use and how you explain things? By doing this when creating a user document, you would be able to adjust the material to better suit your target reader.
Creating user documents that your reader wouldn’t understand is a big waste of your time and effort. Remember that your goal is to help them figure out the product and how to use it, so you have to put yourself in their shoes when writing the material to see what would work and what won’t.