Types of job aids

I don’t think there’s any single best way to categorize job aids. These are types or categories that make sense to me. You can click a type in the titles below, or in the sidebar, to view job aids that represent examples of that type.

Since they both involve decisions, flowcharts and decision could cover the same set of conditions. I’ve tagged job aids as one or the other based on the form they take.

Complex job aids often combine several types. When a job aid in the Ensampler clearly belongs to more than one type, I’ll tag it under both.

Checklist

Supports accuracy and completeness by presenting items or steps to consider or complete.

Example: property-conveyance checklist for a real estate attorney

Decision table

Leads you through one or more conditions (“if X is true, and if Y is true…”) to arrive at a decision. Uses a table (grid) format.

Example: determining flood-insurance premiums

Flowchart

Much like decision tables, flowcharts guide you through multiple conditions or interim decisions to arrive at a final outcome. “Chart” comes in through use of boxes, arrows, and, frequently, standard flowcharting symbols.

Example: inspecting a personal fire shelter

Procedure

Guides you through a sequence of steps required to achieve some result. Joe Harless called this type of job aid a cookbookbased on the step-centric approach of a recipe.  Many procedural job aids incorporate elements of other types, often decision tables.

Example: Screencast.com’s Getting Started guide

Reference

My term for a job aid that collects and organizes one or more sets of information. Typically a reference job aid doesn’t support a single task (“how to file for an extension”); instead, it acts as a quick reminder or refresher. Rossett and Gautier-Downes called this an array.

Example: Verb2Verbe (online verb conjugation for French and English)

Worksheet

Provides space to record and organize information. If the primary purpose is to gather data, I think of the worksheet as a collector; if the purpose is mainly to guide mathematical operations, I think of it as a calculator. Those are matters of emphasis, not a binary choice.

Example: construction summary worksheet (used in filing for a new-construction tax rebate; acts as both collector and calculator )

 

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