RE: Chunking information (Was: multiple TWs for a project)

Subject: RE: Chunking information (Was: multiple TWs for a project)
From: Jason Willebeek-LeMair <jlemair -at- cisco -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 14 Feb 2000 11:43:29 -0600

That is all well and good if you want the user to absorb the
information, but what if you want the user to simply perform the steps
of a procedure that they will only have to perform once (or once every
great while)?

Say, for instance, you produce a manual for installing a board into a
computer. You could provide 24 steps for end-to-end installation
(strapping the board (5 steps), prepping the computer (4 steps,
including the unplugging bit so they don't zap themselves and removing
the cover), installing the board (5 steps), putting the computer back
together (another 4 steps), booting and installing drivers (6 steps).

Now, you could chunk according to the categories listed, or you could
cram them together into a 24-step procedure.

Obviously, we good little TWs would want to chunk it so that the
procedure does not look so intimidating, so that there are natural
breaks in the action so that the poor user can go potty, and so that
they can fully absorb our beutifully chunked info.

But, what is there to absorb? Unless the user's sole job is to cram
boards into boxes, there is really nothing to absorb. Except for our
Board Crammer, this is a one-time deal for the user, so they probably do
not need to memorize dip switch and jumper settings, how to firmly seat
the board, how to plug the data cable, etc.

So why not cram it, let the user get the job done, and go back to
his/her actual job?

Jason

-----Original Message-----
From: SusanP [mailto:susanp -at- astound -dot- com]
Sent: Monday, February 14, 2000 10:51 AM
To: TECHWR-L
Subject: RE: Chunking information (Was: multiple TWs for a project)


"Chunking" is also a term used in psychology and Information Mapping.
The
principles are the same throughout. The human brain can only absorb 7
plus/minus two new ideas/concepts/steps at a time. Therefore,
Information
Mapping recommends that procedures be "chunked" into 5-9 steps maximum.

I had one procedure which was well over 50 steps from start to finish,
but
when you broke it down into "Installing", "Configuring the DIP
Switches",
etc. there were several sub-procedures to accomplish a certain task. It
made
it easier for the user to understand what they were doing and why.

Susan






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