Wednesday, March 24, 2010

User Assistance Trends Panel

Rhonda Bracey, Nicky Bleiel, Teresa Goertz, Leah Gurn, Linda Urban

Joe: Definitely having conference next year, location still unknown. Most conferences I go to, most speakers are men. Our closing session is all women.

IT industry

Nicky: "Cube 2.0" greatest potential since Dilbert Doors, cube-land walls transformed into wrap-around computer, able to roll up and take home. Manipulate all applications with gestures. Specific gesture to open user assistance.

Teresa: Increasing use of mobile devices, for payments and savings, for medical assistance, for telemedicine, for micropayments.

Leah: Companies tying into more user-created information that are outside their control, higher noise to signal ratio, not necessarily a good thing, lots of illiterate rants and "me 2," IT will just throw up their hands--and this ship has already sailed.

Linda: When appliance not working, go up to it with e-book reader to access documentation and support, chips & Bluetooth in appliance or other device, direct link to support URL, location information and smart ads will supply addresses of local repair shops.

User assistance

Teresa: Increasing writer involvement with UI text and online help for mobile payment softare and mobile medical devices.

Leah: Embedded help will almost completely replace separate help, simplicity and ease-of-use the holy grail of user experience, much better understanding of user needs needs, scenarios, tasks part of development, help embedded in dialog box, window, website page.

Linda: User-generated content will increase UA jobs, new job titles and tasks (content curator, content weaver, content strategist), increased responsibility for understanding big picture around content, new skills to learn (user research, forum moderation, information architecture), must think beyond creating online help.

Nicky: Special IA bot will search web for all information (help, wikis, blogs, videos, news stories, etc.) on a product and organize it in easy-to-use display, search by version on request, can remove/rearrange items for customized display, metadata will make results relevant and updating easy.  "Do see a chance for "Clippy" to make a comeback, be our UA robot."

Tools and technologies

Leah: Increased use of XML and DITA will lead to on-the-fly translation options, companies will write tighter, cleaner online help that supports basic translation rules, online server-based computer translation will translate text-on-demand (cheap and fast) when users need topics. Useful especially for non-mainstream languages. Overall translation quality will go down, but make available in more places.

Linda: Authoring tool vendors will help write context-sensitive content at the point of need and mash ups to bring in needed information and links.

Nicky: Embedded live chat in the UA, specific to topic user is viewing, if users have to open help to get to chat, might get them to help,  if answer is in topic displayed, users forfeit right to chat again.

Teresa: Increasing awareness of SEO (search engine optimization) and incorporating principles into writing.

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