In writing courseware, you build a vital link between content, instructor, users, and existing documentation. You create a lesson plan that guides the teacher through a course, and deliver content that shows participants how to solve their problems using our products.

Know Your Audience

In order to serve audience needs, the first thing you need to know is who you are teaching. Are they beginners? Intermediate? Advanced? All three?

Find out each task that they want to accomplish. What are their objectives? What do they need to know in order to meet them? What are the most common obstacles to success?

Make a List

Make a list of users’ objectives. Write each as a task that answers the question, "How do I?" by using the form, "To ."

Underneath each task list topics that users need to learn in order to accomplish it. When you first learned the subject what concepts were unfamiliar? What terms did you trip over? What tools were difficult to find and use? List the concepts, terms and tools under the task that they support.

If you are writing for intermediate or advanced students, raise the level of discourse to match their expertise.

Edit the list of tasks so that you do not waste time teaching tasks that users have already mastered. If you are not sure of your audience do not assume anything. It is better to review the basics than to leave the majority of your audience out in the cold.


  • Know your purpose. You are creating:

    •  A vital link between the content, the instructor, the users, and the documentation.

    •  A lesson plan that guides teachers through the course and guides students to solutions.

  • Know your audience. Ask:

    •  Who is your audience?

    •  What do they want to accomplish?

    •  What do they need to know in order to succeed?

    •  What are the most common obstacles to success?

  • Make a list of tasks. Use the form "To <action>" to answer the question, "How do I?"

  • List topics underneath. For each task, make the following subheadings:

    •  Tools needed to accomplish tasks

    •  Concepts needed to use tools and apply tools to tasks

    •  Terms needed to understand concepts and tools

  • Teach to the appropriate level. When in doubt, pitch the course to a beginning level audience.