December 28, 2017

Why Users Can't Understand Your Content

How can we design technical information that users actually use and understand? At Tcworld 2017, information architect Jonatan Lundin shared the key insights he's gained researching this very question. 


Technical communicators spend a lot of time designing user manuals, yet many users report that they don't even find manuals usable. According to information architect and PhD researcher Jonatan Lundin, in a "reading-to-do context," unusability is influenced by everything from the readability and findability of information, to reading skill level and distrurbances in the workplace. 

"In essence, users may not find or understand what they read. To know how to design useful technical information, we as technical communicators must start by understanding the reasons for such problems."   

In his presentation, given at tcworld 2017 in Stuttgard, Jonatan describes users' difficulties finding and understanding information, summarizes insights from existing information science and reading comprehension research, and suggests how manuals can be designed differently to make them easier to understand. 

The presentation is geared towards technical communicators, familiar with technical communication and information design, who want to learn how to design better user manuals. 

Key learnings from the presentation include:

1. Usability problems in technical information

2. What it means to comprehend a text

3. Situations where comprehension fails, in a reading-to-do context 

4. How technical information can be designed better. 


Watch the full presentation here: 


About Jonatan Lundin

Jonatan is an information architect at Excosoft with more than 20 years of experience from the technical communication industry. He is a researcher at Mälardalen University in Sweden, studying seeking and reading behavior and how to design information for the searching user.


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