First-generation User Guide

Combining collaboration, user research and industry standard software to write task-based procedures

As a technical writer, I collaborated with other writers, project managers, and developers to find information about my users and my product. Using Author-it, I wrote procedures and troubleshooting topics to help users get their jobs done efficiently. I ordered procedures following my users’ workflows, making each task easy for users to find in the moment.

View the full user guide here.

Task-based Procedures

Each procedure in this user guide contains the exact information users need to know, just in time. Descriptive titles employ the users’ language, which makes introductory text mostly unneeded. Users can get straight to the procedure.

Including tips within the procedure gives users information that isn’t required but could be helpful. If users run into trouble trying to complete their task, they can also follow the links at the end of the procedure to troubleshooting topics.

Click the image on the right to enlarge the example procedure.

If you’re interested in seeing more procedure examples, check out my revised user guide.

Troubleshooting Topics

Sometimes, knowing what information my users need goes beyond what fits into procedures. The users of this guide (doctors and nurses collecting data for clinical trials) don’t care about how the product works behind the scenes. However, they do care about what to do if they run into trouble using the product.

As a department, we discovered that many users have a negative reaction to the word “troubleshooting,” so we chose to use “What if…” scenarios instead. The title is a question users might ask when they have a problem caused by human error. Some What if…s deal with the unpredictability of human subjects; others involve human errors inadvertently caused earlier in the task.

Click the image on the right to enlarge the example troubleshooting topic.

If you’d like to see more about how I turned conceptual information into useful user-focused topics, check out my revised user guide.