(EB) Usability Testing for Docs: Start on a Shoestring and Get Permission Later

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Usability on a Shoestring: Getting Started with User Testing Your Documentation to Deliver Results AND Get Permission
Presented by Andrea Ames

Wish you had the right data to make a case for changes or a new direction in your documentation? One very effective method is user testing, but there are many (perceived) barriers to implementing a testing practice:
• It requires access to actual customers or prospective customers (and we doc folk don't get access to those people)
• It costs time and money (and we don't have any and can't get any)
• We aren't usability people -- we're doc people (in other words, "that's not my job" or "that's someone else's job")
• We don't have usability people
• We don't know how -- to plan a test, to design an effective test, to moderate a test, to analyze the results, to present the results so that the right actions are taken
You might be thinking, "Yes, right. I need permission...my manager or someone else who can get me all of the things and tell me it's ok to proceed."

But what if you didn't? What if it was easy and you had everything you need to get started? And what if getting started resulted in getting permission to take a usability practice further in your organization? To grow skills, scope, and impact of your testing program? And what if all of that led to better results for your customer?

In this presentation, Andrea will describe her key success factors for implementing a document user test on a shoestring and how you can position the test to begin bringing user testing into your organization. She'll provide her bare-minimum steps to plan, design, and perform a test with minimal time, no money, and no permission.

Fair warning: Andrea's approach is "beg for forgiveness" vs. "ask for permission," and she knows how to make that work in nearly any organizational culture, so prepare to bring an open mind and get a slightly radical perspective on starting any new initiatives.

Andrea’s Bio:
Andrea is an organization designer for content teams, a content leadership development coach, and a content experience strategy consultant. She assists executives and managers to build content organizations that have measurable business impact, she provides content strategists with apprenticeship-style coaching to develop the skills they need to lead businesses in content strategy, and she offers a group coaching program for content strategists, information architects, and content engineering leaders to develop content leadership skills and knowledge.

Andrea is the Executive Editor of Intercom, the STC magazine, and she is a Certified Online Training Professional (COTP) and the curriculum designer and Program Chair for the UCSC in Silicon Valley certificate program in technical writing and communication, where she teaches content design and architecture, human factors, and content usability courses. She is also a Fellow and past President of STC, a Distinguished Engineer of the ACM (the first content professional to achieve this distinction), and a Senior Member of the IEEE.

With 35 years of content and business experience, Andrea was recognized in 2016 by MindTouch as one of the Top 25 Content Strategy Influencers and is a sought-after consultant, keynote speaker, and workshop leader, as well as the author of numerous journal and magazine articles and two award-winning technical books.

Andrea’s passions are to help create or transform content teams to deliver business results by operating as a content business within their larger organizations; to inspire content strategists, information architects, and content engineering leaders to lead their teams to achieve those results; and to coach content professionals to build skills and capabilities for measurable impact in their organizations.

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