Creating Exemplary Job Aids


During our recent webinar Trim Fat and Boost Performance with Exemplary Job Aids, we discussed many attributes of job aids. We also answered common questions about job aids, such as: The definition of a job aid, why job aids are important, the difference between a mediocre job aid and an exemplary job aid and how to create an exemplary job aid.

Here is a summary of answers to these questions and more.

A job aid:

  • Is a repository used to store and make accessible information, processes and/or perspectives.
  • Is external to the individual; supports work activity; directs, guides and/or enlightens.
  • Is defined as being exemplary when it is known to work “very well” for users. (As a designer, you know you’re on the right track when a tester asks, “Can I have a copy?”).
  • Provides advantages that include: just-in-time availability, simplicity, relevance, saves time, reduces need to recall information, and minimizes errors.
  • Should be used when the target task is performed with low frequency, unusually complex, failure results in dire consequences, and/or steps change often.
  • Can take many formats. Examples include checklist, worksheet, decision table, flowchart, step, tailored-step, or physical device.
  • Can be created in any number of media: poster, quick start guide, digital/app, audio, video. Let the needs of the organization and users dictate the media.
  • Should focus on the how, be clear and direct, use simple language, lead with action verbs, present information in small bits, provide examples and graphics as needed.
  • Should be tested with real-world users. Ask your testers questions about usability, completeness, and special circumstances you may have missed during development.
  • Should be revised by remembering to test, revise, test, revise! This test-revise step is THE SECRET to creating exemplary job aids.
  • Should be managed by considering: user feedback, work environment, availability, versioning and revisions. Who will initiate? Who will implement? Who will administer/oversee it?
  • Can be created using Peregrine Performance Group’s seven steps; (1) Clarify desired output, (2) Align with managers, (3) Choose format, medium, (4) Draft, (5) Test, (6) Revise, (7) Manage – Download the Seven Steps infographic.

For more on the essential nature of job aids in today’s complex and fast-paced world, see Atul Gawande’s TED Talk, “How we heal medicine” in which he tells an extraordinary story about his personal experience and success with job aids.

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