Keep It Simple (and Short) and You, Your Users, and Your Colleagues Will all be Happier Customers
If you are part of the IT support staff for a school or for any other type of organization, no matter what your role is in the personnel structure, you’re still doing some kind of support … helping someone understand how to do something. That’s not always easy.
But we all have to remember how important it is to be approachable and patient if you want people to feel comfortable looking to you for help.
Lighten the Lexicon
It’s also important that we try to avoid an excess of acronyms and tech terms when helping the folks we are in service to.
Many of us techy-types find it all too easy to talk tech to users, and a lot of the jargon goes right past those who aren’t use to it.
Think of it like when NASCAR fans, or Star Wars aficionados, or Physicists, are talking to each other and you overhear it and wonder, “What the heck are they talking about?!” (unless of course you happen to be a race car driving, Lucas-loving, Large Hadron Collider engineer :)).
When we fail to try and appreciate the perspective of the user, we are falling short. Just like you, other people are trying to get things done and they get frustrated when something isn’t working the way they’re used to it working.
So slow down Spacely Sprocket and let the other kids catch up, okay?
Do That for me One More Time
It’s perfectly normal for people to need to be exposed to a new idea 2 or 3 times before it starts to sink in, so you’ve got to have patience as you introduce new or different techniques to users. (After all, not everyone is a techno-knowledge-magnet-brain like you.)
When Writing, Keep it Brief
Most folks seem to barely glance at a lot of their email. This kind of aggravates me sometimes, until I remember that I speed-read most of the textual information I’m bombarded with everyday too.
So, if you are writing instructions, keep it short! People aren’t going to read your 3 to 4 paragraph email. Edit mercilessly. Make it a set of bullet points. Bold an item or two here or there that really requires emphasis. Maybe make your key point with a well thought-out image?
We wouldn’t want our physicians to talk over our heads and leave us with our heads titled to the side like a curious puppy, so don’t do it to your co-workers, okay? Try to help them understand, appreciate their differing perspectives, and that they have different things to worry about.
So just remember … Keep it Simple, and be kind. It’ll help you to help others (and it will advance your career).