The 10 worst ways to communicate with end users

Tonight I read an article “The 10 worst ways to communicate with end users“, and all of them seemed quite solid advice. One of the tips (#2 Showing Off), however, stated “Just because we happen to know all the correct technical terms and concepts does not mean we should use them when communicating with users”. Very fine and all, I just wish users would stop trying to use the correct technical terms when talking with me. Because let’s face it, they’re usually not very good at it.

It does so frustrate me when I see advice to turn off my CPU and VDU at the end of each day. Folks, it’s a computer, or, if you prefer, PC. Worst case scenario, maybe it’s a Mac. Unless maybe you want me disassemble my machine when I finish using it? And that other device? Screen. Monitor. Computer display. People use these terms every day. I have (had) never, ever heard someone slip the term “VDU” into a conversation. To make things worse, this then sparked a debate over whether you should turn off your VDU if you’re leaving for a few minutes. Not one of the participants used any of the commonly accepted versions. Why???

And then someone with (clearly) no technical background posts in an online forum regarding some improvements to the site’s interface, who informed all and sundry that they’d spent some time time researching the issue, and seemed to think that replacing the site’s HTML interface with GIFs would be a good idea. Not just have more pictures, but completely replacing the entire site (including form inputs…). A few minutes later, he posted that, after some more research, maybe PNG would be better? After some initial criticism, maybe the entire (highly dynamic) site could be replaced by PDFs?

When I have a cold of some description, I don’t first spend 15 minutes on the internet trying to figure out what it is on the internet, then go to the doctor and tell them I think I have somelatinnamitis. I tell the doctor I think I’ve got a cold and describe the symptoms. And let someone with training, experience, and a number of thick textbooks on the subject figure out what it might be. It’s really not that hard.

Rant out.

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