This is Day 6 of 30 Days of Integrated Assistance.

 

Confusion is a good thing. I look for it and ask people about it whenever I see it. If I can identify what the confusion or mistake is, then I can identify a solution. Sure, confusion means there’s something wrong, but it’s also an identifiable measurement of what needs to be changed.

 

 

Why to look for confusion

 

Why would you possibly want to find confused customers? The reason is because for every customer who expresses their confusion, you could have thousands who are confused but aren’t letting you know. You need to find out what confuses your customers and then offer solutions. Those solutions are where Integrated Assistance comes in. Every solution that improves the usability becomes an Integrated Assistance Solution (IAS).

 

If you wait for confusion to become obvious, then your customers and even your sales might suffer in the meantime.  

 

 

Communication is essential

If nobody expresses their confusion, then you will never know that it exists. Sure it might hurt a little to get a "fail note" like the one above that vaguely attacks your design, but the truth is that it's a hint and a great starting point for you to dig and to find out the specifics about the confusion.

 

In TechNet Wiki, some people were confused because they went to the IT Security Portal and wanted product overview topics. However, those topics were on the Technologies Portal (which is the purpose of that portal). By engaging with the readers and contributors, it was clear that some who went to the Security Portal didn’t know about the Technologies Portal. A simple solution was to provide a link from the Security Portal to the Technologies Portal to find overview articles about the individual products.

 

That simple link became an Integrated Assistance solution. It helps clarify Wiki navigation.

 

TechNet Wiki is a great example of communication. You can make an edit yourself and leave a comment. You can leave a comment on the main page. You can even click someone’s profile and see hot to contact them directly. I’ve had people find my blog, email, and Twitter account through my Wiki posts. Then they reach out to me that way in order to communicate.

 

The more opportunities you give readers and customers to communicate, the more confusion will knock on your door and explain itself.

 

 

Obstacles = New

 

My philosophy is that this is great. It's great to run into problems and confusions.

 

When plowing forward with new ideas, you uncover obstacles, and those obstacles are proof that you’re marching forward with new ideas. You’re trailblazing, which means you need to cut down some trees and figure out how to get over the mountains. =^)

 

If you’re not running into any obstacles, then you’re not doing anything new.

 

Comment below or tweet me to discuss how finding confusion has helped you assist your users.

 

 

May we all search for confusion, find it, and solve it,

 

- User Ed

This is Day 6 of 30 Days of Integrated Assistance.