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Re: [dita-users] Information structuring / product-, user-, role-centered views

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  • John O'Gorman
    I m going to phrase my response as a question... Doesn t the structure of your content depend somewhat on the output artefact(s) you have in mind? Hardcopy
    Message 1 of 1 , May 1, 2010
      I'm going to phrase my response as a question...
      Doesn't the structure of your content depend somewhat on the output artefact(s) you have in mind? Hardcopy manual, softcopy manual, webpages, on-line Help, in-context Help, etc all have different constraints from a user point of view.
      If you are designing a printed manual, for example, whichever dimension you choose to be your 'primary organizing principle' (P.O.P.) will necessarily make all the other dimensions subordinate. So, if Chapter 1 is entitled: 'For Sysadmins' and Chapter 2: 'For Power Users' and Chapter 3: 'For The Complete Idiot' you have chosen Role as your P.O.P.  You may choose instead the Following: Chapter 1: 'Installation'; Chapter 2: 'Optimization'; Chapter 3: 'Navigation' where Activity is your P.O.P.
      If you picked Role as your P.O.P., you can then choose Activity as your next logical S.O.P. (Secondary Organizing Principle) and Task as your T.O.P. and so on. Likewise, if you picked Activity as your P.O.P. then you can pick Role or Task next. The point is you have to pick one and stick with it for print output.
      For in-context Help, the P.O.P. normally gravitates to whatever is on the UI at the time. If you don't have permission to do something, you don't see a UI and don't have to worry about what Help is relevant.
      In the most fluid scenario like a collection of Help topics in a faceted search environment, a user will want access to all of the relevant information about the product he using - to which he has permission to access. He could anywhere in that collection and expect to find explanations, references and instructions with references and explanations embedded in them.
      There are always three things to consider when organizing content: the User, the Product and the Content itself.
      1. The User - what is he trying to do with your product and what kind of explanation, reference and task material does he need. How is his environment set up; what toolset is he using to access the Product and the content.
      2 The Product - what is the product capable of doing and what information needs to be passed to the user to explain, instruct and orient (reference) the user to optimize his experience.
      3. The Content - What form does the content take; what part(s) and function(s) of the Product does it explain or describe; and which objective(s) does the content instruct the User to achieve.
      I know this is all pretty basic DITA stuff, but part of the point I'm trying to make is that you need to include and have a strategy for managing all of these variables in order to make all of these possible. How you organize the output then becomes a matter of preference.
      -----Original Message-----
      From: Troy Klukewich [mailto:tklukewich@...]
      Sent: Friday, April 30, 2010 07:41 AM
      To: dita-users@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: Re: [dita-users] Information structuring / product-, user-, role-centered views<

      Hi Magnus:
      I'm in ERP, so role-based approaches are a given. Not identifying and structuring content by role when roles are at play can lead to users attempting processes that were never meant for them in the first place. They will then most likely (and very unhappily) conclude that the application is broken when actually they don't have permissions to perform the action and never would.
      I've actually seen this very problem during an SAP implementation I worked on in a past life, which I fixed with role identificaiton in the documentation and training. Prior to the role identification, the application roll-out was failing. Otherwise, the content was entirely accurate!
      Your hunches look spot on to me. And with DITA maps and meta data, it is reasonably easy to structure and filter content by role.
      In general, I like to structure the entire content around roles, top-down, only including applicable processes for that role (even when referring to shared UI).  
      Troy Klukewich
      Information Architect

      From: mostberg9000 <magnus_osterberg@ hotmail.com>
      To: dita-users@yahoogro ups.com
      Sent: Thu, April 29, 2010 9:15:54 AM
      Subject: [dita-users] Information structuring / product-, user-, role-centered views?


      Hi folks,

      Maybe not very DITA-specific, but I still feel this is a good place to ask for advice. Since I'm you guys have valuable knowledge about information structuring.

      We're now up to build a structure for how to present information about our product.

      I've been doing some samples following a product-, user-, role-centered view. Feel the last one is best.

      A product-centered view is too much focused on the product. User's don't want to know how it works, they want to know hos to use it.

      A user-centered view is not generally applicable enough.

      A role-centered view seems the best fit. As I'm visualizing it all, it presents information well suited for larger user groups. The main content can be filtered to fit specific user groups.

      Anyone got expereince in which philosophy to take when structuring User guide-information about a large system to many audiences? Which are the thinsg to focus on?

      Kind regards,


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