Redefine your audience through the gaps

When users find a gap in your documentation – some jump from A to C that gets negative feedback – don’t just fix it. Ask yourself how it got there. Gaps happen because:

  • Someone didn’t think users needed the topic. This demonstrates a misunderstanding of the audience.
  • someone didn’t think about the topic at all. This demonstrates a misunderstanding of the product.

A misunderstanding of the product isn’t normally a big deal. It’s just a human mistake, often localised to the specific topic that was missed. But a misunderstanding of the audience is very often global: You simply don’t know your audience as well as you thought.

Gather user feedback about gaps, line it all up, and look for a pattern. What body of knowledge did you think your users have, that they clearly don’t? When you read the docs from the point of view of this newly reanalysed audience, what new gaps do you see?

That’s your backlog for the next quarter.

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