Discussions Everywhere!

Recently, I was perusing the ANCILE Products Users Group on LinkedIn.  I came across a thread where the original poster was soliciting ideas on increasing awareness and usage of their uPerform help content. This is something that is often a challenge for content developers. Whether you are a technical writer, instructional designer, blog author, or website creator you wonder,  “How do I engage my readers and keep them coming back?” As I researched this topic, I found that the best way to engage your end-users/readers is to allow them the opportunity to provide feedback or participate in a discussion about a particular topic.  When users see content improvements based on that feedback, they are more likely to come back.

Since uPerform was introduced, collaboration has always  been available at the document level.  This meant that end-users or other authors could provide feedback or have a discussion on a particular document or documents.  If they found an error in a document, for example, they could leave a comment and notify the author.  Beginning in uPerform 4.40, discussions are now available anywhere!  This means you are not limited to feedback at the document level, but you can now create a new discussion at any level of the end-user website or the document library.

Adding this feature gives you the ability to not only engage your end-users at the content level, but also to start building your own internal corporate community.  You can use the functionality  to create an internal discussion about a particular topic, not necessarily document related, or just have a place where end-users or authors can visit to see important updates and post comments.  For example, you could create a roundtable discussion in your Purchasing project for your SME’s to discuss best practices or you could create a discussion on the end-user website to engage your end-users in a discussion about the type of content or documentation they would like to see. The possibilities are limitless!

Creating a discussion is very simple process. Simply drill down to the area where you would like the discussion to appear, and click Add Discussion.

In this example, I’m adding a discussion to the top-level of  the end-user website.

Once you click on the Add Discussion link, you can name your discussion and give it a description.

After you have created a discussion, it will appear as an empty discussion.  Now, it’s time to get the conversation flowing by posting a new message.  To do, simply click on the New Message link and get to posting!

When your end-users log in to the website, the discussion you created will appear in the Help Content section.

Your end-users and authors can participate by reviewing the message and clicking the Reply to message link.

 

Additionally, users can be kept up-to-date on the discussion by clicking on the Add Me to Discussion link or by clicking the Subscribe link.  Adding to a discussion will send copies of all messages that are posted to the discussion, including any attached files, to the user’s email address.

 

Subscribing, will notify the user when new messages are posted but will not send them the actual message.  The user subscribing can configure when and how the messages are sent to them (i.e. posted to their personal page or sent via email) and even change the subject line of the email message if they would like.

 

As you can see, the ability to create discussions on the uPerform website offers endless possibilities of collaboration and engagement with your end-users and authors.

How will you take advantage of this feature? We’d love to hear your ideas!