Define user goals

Now that we had a good idea of what had gone before, and we had the list of topics that we thought should be included in the new driver document, we decided to take the advice of all the gurus in this field and solicit input from our user community.

You might say that this should be the first step in the process, but better late than never! And any implementation of a new way of doing things into a department that has been churning out thousands of pages of helpful information for years is bound to be messy


Lacking time to survey real live users, we decided to email a Word document with questions to the product manager and another marketing person who have customer contact.

We asked the following questions:

  • What are the user’s personal goals? The idea here is to understand what the user perceives as his or her goal, not the goal of the driver itself.
  • What are the user’s business goals? We made clear that this question is not about the company’s business goal that motivated investment in the development of the driver. What we wanted to understand is how the existence of the driver helps to meet the end user’s goal.
  • What tasks does the user need to complete to achieve their goals? Now we’re beginning to learn about the driver and what steps need to be taken to install it and configure its options.
  • When and under what conditions are tasks performed? This question is designed to determine the limitations or restrictions to achieving the ultimate user goals.
  • What are the potential distractions to accomplishing the goal? The answer to this question begins the troubleshooting section.


We gathered only a minor amount of information from distributing the Word document. Our results improved when we included the two marketing people in the conference call where we discussed the results. As a result of that call, we reorganized and re-titled our topics.

It would have been better to talk to actual users, but we did learn a lot from the marketing people.

A best practice would be to understand as much about the topic to be documented as possible, then sit down with a couple of real users, or the next best interviewees, your marketing representative(s), and talk about the questions.

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