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© 2006 Autodesk1 A Passion to Serve Your Customers Melanie Allen GBU Technical Publications.

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Presentation on theme: "© 2006 Autodesk1 A Passion to Serve Your Customers Melanie Allen GBU Technical Publications."— Presentation transcript:

1 © 2006 Autodesk1 A Passion to Serve Your Customers Melanie Allen GBU Technical Publications

2 © 2006 Autodesk2 What makes it possible to develop excellent Help Systems? Autodesk's answer: A passion to serve your customers The focus on your customer drives you to find out what their needs are. The passion drives you to find the best solutions to those needs.

3 © 2006 Autodesk3 To serve your customers, you need four basic elements: To Serve Your Customers  A knowledge of who your customers are, their needs, tasks, and learning styles  A knowledge of how best to serve these needs  An environment that supports you in discovering and serving these needs  Patience to take incremental steps

4 © 2006 Autodesk4 Part 1: Finding Out About Your Customers

5 © 2006 Autodesk5 Some inexpensive ways to find out about your customers:  Do a survey: Survey Monkey is free! You can post the survey on a discussion board or the company website or it to a user list. Part 1: Finding Out about Your Customers

6 © 2006 Autodesk6 Some inexpensive ways to find out about your customers:  Do a survey: Survey Monkey is free! You can post the survey on a discussion board or the company website or it to a user list.  Do phone interviews Part 1: Finding Out about Your Customers

7 © 2006 Autodesk7 Some inexpensive ways to find out about your customers:  Do a survey: Survey Monkey is free! You can post the survey on a discussion board or the company website or it to a user list.  Do phone interviews  Talk to your sales force; have them talk about 2 or 3 clients in particular Part 1: Finding Out about Your Customers

8 © 2006 Autodesk8 Some inexpensive ways to find out about your customers:  Do a survey: Survey Monkey is free! You can post the survey on a discussion board or the company website or it to a user list.  Do phone interviews  Talk to your sales force; have them talk about 2 or 3 clients in particular  Bribe the designers to take you on customer visits to local clients Part 1: Finding Out about Your Customers

9 © 2006 Autodesk9 Some inexpensive ways to find out about your customers:  Do a survey: Survey Monkey is free! You can post the survey on a discussion board or the company website or it to a user list.  Do phone interviews  Talk to your sales force; have them talk about 2 or 3 clients in particular  Bribe the designers to take you on customer visits to local clients  Ask a client to do a NetMeeting where they show you how they use your product in their work Part 1: Finding Out about Your Customers

10 © 2006 Autodesk10 Some inexpensive ways to find out about your customers:  Do a survey: Survey Monkey is free! You can post the survey on a discussion board or the company website or it to a user list.  Do phone interviews  Talk to your sales force; have them talk about 2 or 3 clients in particular  Bribe the designers to take you on customer visits to local clients  Ask a client to do a NetMeeting where they show you how they use your product in their work  Join the organizations your clients join; go to some of their meetings Part 1: Finding Out about Your Customers

11 © 2006 Autodesk11 Some inexpensive ways to find out about your customers:  Do a survey: Survey Monkey is free! You can post the survey on a discussion board or the company website or it to a user list.  Do phone interviews  Talk to your sales force; have them talk about 2 or 3 clients in particular  Bribe the designers to take you on customer visits to local clients  Ask a client to do a NetMeeting where they show you how they use your product in their work  Join the organizations your clients join; go to some of their meetings  Subscribe to journals your clients subscribe to Part 1: Finding Out about Your Customers

12 © 2006 Autodesk12 Some inexpensive ways to find out about your customers:  Do a survey: Survey Monkey is free! You can post the survey on a discussion board or the company website or it to a user list.  Do phone interviews  Talk to your sales force; have them talk about 2 or 3 clients in particular  Bribe the designers to take you on customer visits to local clients  Ask a client to do a NetMeeting where they show you how they use your product in their work  Join the organizations your clients join; go to some of their meetings  Subscribe to journals your clients subscribe to  Join discussion groups to see what types of questions your clients are asking Part 1: Finding Out about Your Customers

13 © 2006 Autodesk13 Some inexpensive ways to find out about your customers:  Do a survey: Survey Monkey is free! You can post the survey on a discussion board or the company website or it to a user list.  Do phone interviews  Talk to your sales force; have them talk about 2 or 3 clients in particular  Bribe the designers to take you on customer visits to local clients  Ask a client to do a NetMeeting where they show you how they use your product in their work  Join the organizations your clients join; go to some of their meetings  Subscribe to journals your clients subscribe to  Join discussion groups to see what types of questions your clients are asking  Use your software to do the type of things a client would do (not a small project; a real project) Part 1: Finding Out about Your Customers

14 © 2006 Autodesk14 Some inexpensive ways to find out about your customers:  Do a survey: Survey Monkey is free! You can post the survey on a discussion board or the company website or it to a user list.  Do phone interviews  Talk to your sales force; have them talk about 2 or 3 clients in particular  Bribe the designers to take you on customer visits to local clients  Ask a client to do a NetMeeting where they show you how they use your product in their work  Join the organizations your clients join; go to some of their meetings  Subscribe to journals your clients subscribe to  Join discussion groups to see what types of questions your clients are asking  Use your software to do the type of things a client would do (not a small project; a real project)  Look at conferences that your clients go to—what are the topics Part 1: Finding Out about Your Customers

15 © 2006 Autodesk15 Some inexpensive ways to find out about your customers:  Do a survey: Survey Monkey is free! You can post the survey on a discussion board or the company website or it to a user list.  Do phone interviews  Talk to your sales force; have them talk about 2 or 3 clients in particular  Bribe the designers to take you on customer visits to local clients  Ask a client to do a NetMeeting where they show you how they use your product in their work  Join the organizations your clients join; go to some of their meetings  Subscribe to journals your clients subscribe to  Join discussion groups to see what types of questions your clients are asking  Use your software to do the type of things a client would do (not a small project; a real project)  Look at conferences that your clients go to—what are the topics  Ask tech support about the main customer questions and requests Part 1: Finding Out about Your Customers

16 © 2006 Autodesk16 More-expensive ways to find out about your customers:  Get time in a usability lab  Participate in other usability testing  Go to a convention  Fly to visit remote clients  Volunteer to help train users  I’m sure there are other ideas that you have Part 1: Finding Out about Your Customers

17 © 2006 Autodesk17 Use this info:  Develop personas.  Identify your main customer or customer categories  Find out their workflows:  Use surveys to find out the main tasks user perform with your software  Confirm the list of tasks with your internal experts  Find out their learning styles:  Which types of customers use the tutorials  Which types of customers use animations  Who is on the discussion board  Here’s a new one we’re investigating: how do under-30s expect to learn a new program Part 1: Finding Out about Your Customers

18 © 2006 Autodesk18 Remember the Passion:  I’m not happy unless I’m doing this  I don’t ever want to “just do the User’s Guide”  I know Tech Writers tend to be introverts, but you need to push yourself to have some contact with your customers Part 1: Finding Out about Your Customers

19 © 2006 Autodesk19 Part 2: Finding the Best Way to Serve Your Customers’ Needs

20 © 2006 Autodesk20 Keeping Up with the Latest Methods – Research: there’s a lot out there You are delivering information—read the research on the best ways to present information  How do users search  How do users navigate  What do they look for on a page when they’re searching for information  Where do their eyes go on a page  How do they like information organized  What are the best tools for creating animations Part 2: Find the Best Way to Serve Your Customer’s Needs

21 © 2006 Autodesk21 Some good research sites:  Jared Spool’s User Interface Engineering (http://www.uie.com/)http://www.uie.com/  Jacob Nielsen’s website (http://www.useit.com/)http://www.useit.com/  The Interaction Designer’s Coffee Break (http://www.guuui.com)http://www.guuui.com  SIG CHI (http://sigchi.org/)http://sigchi.org/  Pattern Language (http://www.patternlanguage.com)http://www.patternlanguage.com  WritersUA (http://www.writersua.com)http://www.writersua.com  The Usability Professionals' Association (http://www.upassoc.org/)http://www.upassoc.org/  Signal vs. Noise (http://www.37signals.com/svn/)http://www.37signals.com/svn/ And of course  STC (http://www.stc.org/)http://www.stc.org/ Part 2: Find the Best Way to Serve Your Customer’s Needs

22 © 2006 Autodesk22 Keep clear on the consumer of your document and their status  When does a user look at the Help? When they are stuck. This is not something they read in their spare time. Assume you are writing for someone who is trying to meet a deadline and is stuck and is slightly pissed off at you.  Do NOT explain the history of the feature  Do not explain that the UI is complicated because the designers refused to listen to your great advice on how to design this screen  Be aware of where they are likely to get stuck and tell them how to get going again.  However, if you’re writing the tutorial, then you are writing for someone who has set aside 15 minutes to learn a new feature. Show them how to use your product to complete their tasks. Part 2: Find the Best Way to Serve Your Customer’s Needs

23 © 2006 Autodesk23 Part 3: Creating a Supportive Environment

24 © 2006 Autodesk24 What makes it possible for you to do your best work:  A supportive SWD team  A management team that recognizes the value of long term employment and works to keep you happy (not work you to death for a single release)  A manager who respects you and wants you to grow and be happy  A place for your own initiatives (summer projects)  Tech Pubs Task Forces of people working on similar projects Part 3: Creating a Supportive Environment

25 © 2006 Autodesk25 How can you help create this environment:  A project to reduce Tech Support calls  Surveys that show users like the docs  An assessment of the documentation your competition delivers  Showing that you are working to meet team goals (Goals and Strategy)  Presentations to the larger team about what you’re doing  Finding a balance between helping the team and preserving Tech Pubs  Frontloading (summer projects) Part 3: Creating a Supportive Environment

26 © 2006 Autodesk26 Part 4: The Power of Incremental Steps

27 © 2006 Autodesk27 This doesn’t happen all at once  When I first did the workflow guide, I made up the workflows based on what I thought. For that first release, I had 10 workflows that I made up and that I figured out the steps for. Part 4: The Power of Incremental Steps

28 © 2006 Autodesk28 Workflows: Release 1 Part 4: The Power of Incremental Steps

29 © 2006 Autodesk29 This doesn’t happen all at once  When I first did the workflow guide, I made up the workflows based on what I thought. For that first release, I had 10 workflows that I made up and that I figured out the steps for.  For the next release, I checked the workflows with the Technical Marketing Manager and added 10 more workflows that he recommended. We also moved from HTML into a Frame-based content management system, which didn’t support side-by-side graphics and text. Part 4: The Power of Incremental Steps

30 © 2006 Autodesk30 Workflows: Release 2 Part 4: The Power of Incremental Steps

31 © 2006 Autodesk31 This doesn’t happen all at once  When I first did the workflow guide, I made up the workflows based on what I thought. For that first release, I had 10 workflows that I made up and that I figured out the steps for.  For the next release, I checked the workflows with the Technical Marketing Manager and added 10 more workflows that he recommended.  For the next release, I removed the graphics, since they just got in the user’s way. Part 4: The Power of Incremental Steps

32 © 2006 Autodesk32 Workflows: Release 3 Part 4: The Power of Incremental Steps

33 © 2006 Autodesk33 This doesn’t happen all at once  When I first did the workflow guide, I made up the workflows based on what I thought. For that first release, I had 10 workflows that I made up and that I figured out the steps for.  For the next release, I checked the workflows with the Technical Marketing Manager and added 10 more workflows that he recommended.  For the next release, I removed the graphics, since they just got in the user’s way.  For the next release, I worked with a Task Force on the design of the workflows. Part 4: The Power of Incremental Steps

34 © 2006 Autodesk34 Workflows: Release 4 Part 4: The Power of Incremental Steps

35 © 2006 Autodesk35 This doesn’t happen all at once  When I first did the workflow guide, I made up the workflows based on what I thought. For that first release, I had 10 workflows that I made up and that I figured out the steps for.  For the next release, I checked the workflows with the Technical Marketing Manager and added 10 more workflows that he recommended.  For the next release, I removed the graphics, since they just got in the user’s way.  For the next release, I worked with a Task Force on the design of the workflows.  The next release didn’t look any different to the users, but we did a huge amount of work to make the workflows easier for the writers to product. We also did some usability on how the customers interacted with the UI of the Workflow Guide. Part 4: The Power of Incremental Steps

36 © 2006 Autodesk36 Workflows: Release 5 Part 4: The Power of Incremental Steps

37 © 2006 Autodesk37 This doesn’t happen all at once  When I first did the workflow guide, I made up the workflows based on what I thought. For that first release, I had 10 workflows that I made up and that I figured out the steps for.  For the next release, I checked the workflows with the Technical Marketing Manager and added 10 more workflows that he recommended.  For the next release, I removed the graphics, since they just got in the user’s way.  For the next release, I worked with a Task Force on the design of the workflows.  The next release didn’t look any different to the users, but we did a huge amount of work to make the workflows easier for the writers to product. We also did some usability on how the customers interacted with the UI of the Workflow Guide.  I’m just getting around to doing the needs analysis of which types of customers use which types of workflows and have which type of learning styles. This will help us decide what workflows to cover in the tutorials and which to cover in our animations. Part 4: The Power of Incremental Steps

38 © 2006 Autodesk38 Remember the four elements: To Create Great Help  Find out about your customers  Research how best to serve them  Work on creating a supportive environment  Be patient  It doesn’t hurt to be a little crazy passionate


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