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The Diagnosis-Resolution Structure in Troubleshooting Procedures . David K . Farkas Dept. of Human Centered Design & Engineering University of Washington Seattle, Washington, USA http://faculty.washington.edu/farkas/ [email protected] Big idea.

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The Diagnosis-Resolution Structure in Troubleshooting Procedures

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The diagnosis resolution structure in troubleshooting procedures l.jpg

The Diagnosis-Resolution Structure in Troubleshooting Procedures

David K . Farkas

Dept. of Human Centered Design & Engineering

University of Washington

Seattle, Washington, USA

http://faculty.washington.edu/farkas/

[email protected]


Big idea l.jpg

Big idea

  • Troubleshooting procedures always exhibit a diagnosis-resolution structure

  • Understanding this structure leads to important insights for design


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Presentation vs. proceedings paper

  • Proceedings paper has more depth

  • Presentation has more illustrations and explicit guidelines

  • The presentation slides are available here:

    http://faculty.washington.edu/farkas/IPCC.pptx


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Acknowledgments

  • Connie Olberg (formerly) at Microsoft and her user support team


Background what are troubleshooting procedures l.jpg

Background:What Are Troubleshooting Procedures?


Troubleshooting content is problem focused l.jpg

Troubleshooting content is problem focused

Is this your problem?Here is how to fix it.

Problem = Symptom


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Similar to medical diagnosis and treatment

  • Similar to a doctor asking a patient to describe symptoms and then indicating treatment

  • Even more similar to a first-aid manual


In most cases this problem is a bug incompatibility or component failure l.jpg

In most cases this problem is a bug, incompatibility, or component failure

EZGrab 3.0 freezes or closes unexpectedly

My computer no longer plays audio or produces any sound from the speakers or headset


Tps are written for l.jpg

TPs are written for . . .

  • Support Centers/KBs (Knowledge Bases)

  • Help systems and manuals

  • Forum posts

  • Etc.


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Simple TP in a small support center


Usually tps are more challenging to design and write than standard procedures l.jpg

Usually, TPs are more challenging to design and write than standard procedures


Complex tp from an adobe acrobat support center article on printing problems excerpt l.jpg

Complex TP from an Adobe Acrobat support center article on printing problems (excerpt)


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Some problems can be handled by remote intervention


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Forums are an alternative to TPs

2/20/09 6:17 pm

Tony: I used to be able to open two different ppt files in different windows. But somehow when I open the file it shows up in only one window.

2/20/09 11:46 pm

Mike MVP: Open both your presentations, then select the View Tab, Arrange All. Always a good idea to mention which version of PowerPoint your using.

2/21/09 8:46 pm

Tony: Maybe you misunderstand what I meant. I mean that when you open two ppt files, the screen will show . . .


The diagnosis resolution structure the diagnosis phase l.jpg

The Diagnosis-Resolution Structure:The Diagnosis Phase


Tps always exhibit a diagnosis resolution structure simplest case l.jpg

M

TPs always exhibit a diagnosis-resolution structure: Simplest case

Diagnosis

phase

Title

Describes symptom

Resolution

phase

Explains method


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More complex problems will exhibit multiple symptoms

Title

I cannot connect to the service

  • Possible causes with their own specific symptoms:

    • Browser settings

    • Router problems

    • Firewall settings

    • Wi-Fi Internet connection problems

    • Parental control software

    • Service is down

    • Older version of client software


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S

S

S

S

Multiple symptoms in a flat list

I cannot connect to the service

Title

Broad symptom

Diagnosisphase

Specific symptoms


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S

S

S

S

S

S

Tree of symptoms

Broad symptom

Title

More specific symptoms

Diagnosisphase

Still more specific symptoms


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Tree of symptoms

=

“I am having trouble with my modem”

Statements of symptoms

S

S

S

S


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Isolating the cause

More specific statements of symptoms

S

S

S


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M

Identifying a successful method—we hope


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The Diagnosis-Resolution Structure: The Resolution Phase


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Key distinction: Method vs. solution path

  • Method: A single procedure intended to solve a problem

  • Solution path: A broader approach to solving a problem, usually consisting of several related methods

P

M M M

=


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M

M

M

A solution path consisting of multiple methods(fixed sequence)

J

J

Resolution phase

J

Contact your system administrator


A solution path consisting of multiple methods variable sequence l.jpg

M

M

M

A solution path consisting of multiple methods(variable sequence)

J

J

Resolution phase

J


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M M M

M M M

M M M

A solution path consisting of multiple methods(fixed sequence)

Resolution phase

J

J

J

J

J

J

J

J

J


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M M M

M M M

M M M

A solution path consisting of multiple methods(variable sequence)

Resolution phase

J

J

J

J

J

J

J

J

J


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P

You can empower users to choose solution path based on their own priorities

Path splits with user decision

P

P


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Guidelines: 1. General guidelines2. Guidelines from diagnosis-resolution structure


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General guidelines (tech comm, instructional design, etc.)

  • To minimize expenditure of time and effort, strive for clarity, brevity, etc

  • To minimize user’s risk of failure, provide sufficient information, accurate information, etc

  • To motivate users to attempt and stick with TPs, strive for an unintimidating appearance and offer encouragement


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Example: Motivating users at the outset of a TP

This method has a high probability of success. It is lengthy but easy to follow.


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Guidelines: 1. General guidelines2. Five guidelines from diagnosis-resolution structure


Users must be to identify the tp that applies to their problem l.jpg

Users must be to identify the TP that applies to their problem

  • Phrase titles and symptom descriptions carefully (at audience’s level)

  • Error messages are excellent symptoms, especially when they are specific to a particular problem

  • Sometimes you need two articles, each articulating a different symptom


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Be wary of titles that express causation

The application will not initialize


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Two titles, each describing very different symptoms of the same problem

My connection speed is sometimes very slow

The status light sometimes flashes red


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Strive for a specific understanding of the problem

  • The more you know about the problem, the simpler the resolution phase


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Favor variables sequences. Favor user empowerment.

  • When possible, bypass methods and solution paths that won’t work

  • When possible, allow the user to choose a solution path that meets their particular needs


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Decide how deeply to explain the cause of the problem

  • Most users don’t care about the cause

  • When user actions brought on the problem, it is necessary to explain how to prevent a recurrence


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Be wary of very difficult methods. Be wary of too many methods

  • Lengthy procedures and articles are demotivators

  • Difficult methods are demotivators

    • Recognize the law of diminishing returns

    • When appropriate, hand off to live support, etc


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TPs will remain important

  • User’s often need assistance

  • Vendor is often the best or only source of reliable information

  • Finding a balance:

    • Crafted content

    • Remote intervention

    • Users helping users


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Thank you


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Forum content may not be well crafted


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Complex TP from a Microsoft KB article (excerpt)


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The complete KB article


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