Tell Me What You Need: User Experience Design for Documentation

As technical communicators, we often hear what customers want from documentation. How do we know we are providing what they need? To validate our content and innovate with confidence, we must talk to customers. By embracing the user experience, we get out of the lab and away from the computer screen.

When we talk to customers to find out what they need, we can:

  • Learn more about how our customer engage with our products.
  • Test the content that we provide and determine how to improve it.
  • Confidently innovate new content delivery in the right direction.


Based on actual examples of user testing and design validation, you might see something that you can apply in your work. For example, we were able to get answers to the following questions:

  • Are customers interested in a new type of documentation?
  • Before we make changes, are we making the best choice?
  • Do we provide what customers need to install or get started?
  • Does the content help customers do their jobs?

What can the audience expect to learn?

Providing customer documentation is time-consuming and costly. Usability testing is a way to interact with customers. Learn about how we can use customer interaction to validate what we are doing now and anything new that we want to provide. This session includes examples of real testing and practical examples that you might want to adapt for your organization.

Meet the presenter

Carol Nugent is a Senior Staff Technical Writer at VMware. She started out in the information business with a Master of Library and Information Science, working in university and public libraries. Libraries were where she directly interacted with customers, taking their requests for information and drilling in to find out what they needed. When she moved to the technical communication space in 2001, working for hardware and software companies, she missed the direct customer access. To expand her skill set, she trained to be a Certified Usability Analyst. Putting her training to good use, she continues to write, test, validate, innovate, and to write.

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