Monday, October 16, 2006

User Assistance as Community Builder
A user assistance architecture that was designed to act like a knowledge management system would include community building capability--that is, ways to link the users to experts other than the static published documentation set.

Look at how, a retail site, does an excellent job of community building (thus providing a dynamic user-to-user user assistance).
  • User reviews
  • People who bought this book also bought these books...
  • User lists of favorites around a given topic being currently viewed

At the WritersUA conference this year in Palm Springs, I sat on the pundits' panel that had to offer up predictions of where UA was heading. One of my predictions is that user assistance would incorporate user-content accommodations like Wikis. This would be one way for complex applications to create communities of practice around their products. Other community-building opportunities to incorporate into the user assistance framework would be WebChat, links to relevant threads within a user forum (based on the topic or search question at hand), and links to external sites, such professional associations, that could provide information about the topic.

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