Imagine that you’re writing some user assistance for a program that can be automated with the help of a basic macro programming language.
If your primary user group consists of average office workers, most of them don’t have any programming skills. You need to use terms and scenarios that they’re familiar with, so part of your structure could look like this:
If your primary user group consists of programmers, they don’t need any general programming domain knowledge. Most likely, they will look for a brief command and syntax reference. Therefore, your document’s content and structure would be very different from the office workers’ version:
Usually, the primary user group is the group that represents the largest number of users.
However, for important reasons, you can sometimes also deliberately target another group as your primary user group. For example, your primary user group may also be:
▪the group of users who account for the highest support costs
▪the group of users who account for the highest profits
▪the group of users who are strategically the most important group for your company or for the success of your product
If you’re writing for more than one important user group, you can create individual documents for each group. For example, you can create a getting started guide for the user group “office workers,” and a command reference for the user group “programmers.” The primary user group for the getting started guide, then, is the user group “office workers,” whereas the primary user group for the command reference is the user group “programmers.”
Thus, instead of having one mixed-up document that neither office workers nor programmers particularly like, you give each group just what they need.
Users must be able to understand the structure before they even start reading your document. If your headings use terms that your primary user group doesn’t understand, your structure will fail. Your structure will also fail if you use any structuring criteria that the users of your primary user group aren’t aware of.