Monday, August 07, 2006

Pulling those around us up the technology curve

In the last few days, I have had experiences that reminded me that we don't all have the same level of understanding about technology. Yet isn't it easy for us to assume that we all know the same lingo, acronyms and abbreviations? Isn't it easy to assume that we all know how things work behind the scenes? And easy for us to assume that we all have the same ideas about what is easy or difficult with technology (and how long doing "whatever" will take). Our assumptions, though, can cause a rift between us. We might instead of creating allies, find that we're causing people to feel technologically inferior.

So instead of getting frustrated with your coworkers and users when they don't understand what you mean (like how to do "x"), take a deep breath, say a silent word of thanks for having the knowledge that you have, and then explain whatever it is in words that the person will understand. Remember to stay away from technology/computer jargon (especially with users). Instead, try to use examples and analogies that are in their frame of reference.

If you find several people having the same problem, take that has a sign that you need to rewrite the directions they are trying to follow OR create/expand your list of frequently asked questions (FAQs). Remember to make the FAQs easy to find as well as easy to understand. And keep in mind that some FAQs -- in a brick and mortar facility -- may need to be on paper (posted around the facility) rather than on the computer.

Want to post questions (with their answers) or FAQs in a place (within your facility) where people will read them without feeling stupid for reading them? IWell, consider posting them in creative, fun ways near the restrooms, in elevators, and stairwells. In other words, post them where people will be bored and ready to be distracted.

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