Anu Singh, Fiserv
July 15, 2020

Ever wondered why do we always write, “Click OK”?

This question can be answered from three different perspectives.

First, mostly because we would like to reinforce that it is safe to click the OK button to accomplish a task. Secondly, we do not build our content considering an individual’s psychological or self-actualization needs to connect with an audience. Third, we often do not realize that all content is not created equal, and it should not be for the targeted audience.

We, as technical communicators, have the responsibility of analyzing and filtering information that we receive. This identification of information and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs go hand in hand that we seldom consider in our documentation process. We live in a technology world that continues to make its best efforts to meet the psychological and self-fulfillment needs through all the information available to it from various sources of truth that have further been disrupted by the disruptive technology available to us with the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

As the world is changing so rapidly and with the recent COVID-19 experiences, it is important to provide a sense of safety, prestige, or self-actualization content to the targeted audience. This is important as with the more intuitive products and smart devices, and it has become extremely important to discover the humane side of technology effectively through content. We need to build information based on what the user needs with the technology they are using rather than delivering content as a standard package.

A mobile device user who is using multiple apps would not be interested in reading a 50-page PDF to accomplish a task. Similarly, a podcast listener is not interested in infographics or the flow charts. These users belong to their specific environment, and it is essential to create content that is usable to them in a way that they can process without any projected or perceived barrier. Additionally, it is important to think about accessibility and multi-use of the content we create to expand the content reach and its impact.

Usability experts like Jakob Nielsen, William Horton, Jared Spool, and other pioneers in this field significantly changed the way we analyze, write, and even structure information. Content must expand itself through the concepts of multi-media and multi-platform, accessibility and searchability and how they contribute towards an effective Content Strategy. More recent approaches consider learning as an integral part of enhancing user experience and making it as effortless as possible.

We need to reorganize our content to create an information-consumer base and reach people with content that matters to them — where, when, and how they want it — to feel safe, connected with a feeling of accomplishment. There is another set of audience who would reach out to information to achieve their full potential and are willing to “lean forward” for creative indulgence with content.

It is critical to look at information from a completely different perspective, and instead of focusing on product features and technical details, let’s begin to look at how people feel when they use products and consume information.