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So You Think You Know What Your Readers Want? with Yoel Strimling of CEVA

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Do you know what your readers really want from the documentation you send them? Because it’s not always easy to get direct feedback, we often end up relying on our “gut instincts” and assume that readers define high-quality documentation in the same way that writers do. But is this a safe assumption?

This talk presents data from a comprehensive, empirically based study that measured and compared how writers and readers define documentation quality, as well as how writers assume readers define it. The results might surprise you – and they will definitely help you bridge the gaps and keep your readers happy. And, after all, who doesn’t want happy readers?

In this interactive talk, we will do the following:

Discuss the need to get reliable feedback from our readers to ensure we’re writing what they want to read
Learn about a narrow yet comprehensive set of well-known and empirically tested information quality (IQ) dimensions (based on previous research by Wang & Strong, 1996) that cover all categories of IQ – Intrinsic, Representational, Contextual, and Accessibility – and are easy to use for defining DQ and for collecting meaningful and actionable feedback
Get some clear, research-based takeaways that we can use to improve our documentation and make our readers happy

Presented November 27, 2018, at Quadrus Conference Center for Information Development World 2018.

Publicado en: Tecnología
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So You Think You Know What Your Readers Want? with Yoel Strimling of CEVA

  1. 1. Yoel Strimling (yoel.strimling@ceva-dsp.com) So You Think You Know What Your Readers Want? @reb_yoel @InfoDevWorld
  2. 2. 3CEVA Proprietary Information The F-Word F ckeedba @reb_yoel @InfoDevWorld
  3. 3. 4CEVA Proprietary Information Getting Meaningful and Actionable Feedback Meaningful feedback requires readers to focus only on the most important issues. Actionable feedback requires us to be able to take what our readers tell us and do something about it. @reb_yoel @InfoDevWorld
  4. 4. 5CEVA Proprietary Information Defining Documentation Quality To properly define documentation quality, we must meet the following criteria: The definition must be from the reader’s point of view. The definition must have solid empirical backing. The definition must be clear and unequivocal. The definition must cover all possible aspects of “quality.” @reb_yoel @InfoDevWorld
  5. 5. 6CEVA Proprietary Information Information Quality Categories and Their Dimensions Intrinsic Representational Contextual Accessibility Accurate Believable Objective Reputable Concise Consistent Easy to Understand Interpretable The Appropriate Amount Complete Relevant Timely Valuable Accessible Secure @reb_yoel @InfoDevWorld
  6. 6. 7CEVA Proprietary Information In Other Words… High-quality documentation must be: Intrinsically good Clearly represented Contextually appropriate for the need Accessible to the reader @reb_yoel @InfoDevWorld
  7. 7. 8CEVA Proprietary Information What Do Readers Think Is Important? (n=81)
  8. 8. 9CEVA Proprietary Information Meaningful Feedback Actionable Feedback Most Important Issues Fewest Number of Questions Universally Understood Terms Reader-Oriented Approach Unambiguous Responses Easily Understood Needs Easily Addressable Issues Documentation Quality Feedback Model Wang & Strong’s Information Quality Categories - Each category covers a distinct aspect of information quality (Intrinsic, Representational, Contextual, Accessibility). - The number of information quality categories is limited to four. -There is no overlap between the different information quality categories. - The meanings of each information quality category are clear and unambiguous. - The information quality categories are based on robust and extensive empirical “information consumer” research. But each information quality category contains multiple dimensions, which are too similar to each other and too many to be used for focused feedback. - This current study finds the single most important information quality dimension per category from the readers’ point of view, as it relates to documentation. - This enables writers to address all four of the information quality categories, and focus only on what is most important. Because the information quality categories are distinct, clearly defined, and focused, it is easy for writers to understand what the readers are saying about the documentation and what they want improved.
  9. 9. 10CEVA Proprietary Information Practical Applications of the Model Help writers understand what is important to readers when feedback is unavailable Provide reliable methods and metrics for measuring documentation quality Create a common documentation quality terminology Collect meaningful and actionable feedback @reb_yoel @InfoDevWorld
  10. 10. 11CEVA Proprietary Information Helping Writers Understand What’s Important to Readers When Feedback Is Unavailable We saw how readers define documentation quality. Do writers know how readers define documentation quality? @reb_yoel @InfoDevWorld
  11. 11. 12CEVA Proprietary Information Where Writers Get It Wrong (RR n=81; WARR n=66) @reb_yoel @InfoDevWorld p=0.0095 p=0.0024 p<0.0000 p=0.0275 p=0.0137
  12. 12. 13CEVA Proprietary Information What Does It Mean? Relevant = The information in the documentation is applicable and helpful for the task at hand. Readers want to feel that it was worth their while to use the documentation, and that it made their tasks easier. Writers need to put themselves in their readers’ shoes and ask “if I were the reader, would this help me do my job better?” Valuable = The information in the documentation is beneficial and provides advantages from its use. @reb_yoel @InfoDevWorld
  13. 13. 14CEVA Proprietary Information Takeaways Feedback from readers about documentation quality must be meaningful and actionable to be worthwhile. Based on empirically tested information quality categories and dimensions, we can create a preliminary, focused, clearly defined, and reader-oriented model for collecting this type of feedback. This model can also be used as a starting point for technical communicators and their managers who need to have reliable methods and metrics for measuring documentation quality. @reb_yoel @InfoDevWorld
  14. 14. Yoel Strimling (yoel.strimling@ceva-dsp.com) Thanks for listening! @reb_yoel @InfoDevWorld

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