Re: Index (WAS What sayest me... on Worthless TC Degrees)

Subject: Re: Index (WAS What sayest me... on Worthless TC Degrees)
From: "Tim Altom" <taltom -at- simplywritten -dot- com>
To: "Melanie Shook" <mshook -at- com2001 -dot- com>, "TechDoc List" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 27 Mar 2000 16:06:53 -0500

Indexes are no bargain either, at times. In a book on FrameMaker, how many
listings might there be for "text". One? Twelve? How many times have I
looked in an index and found so many page numbers that I had to keep a thumb
in the index while I looked?

Yes, we here usually advocate documenting task-based, for EVERY task. It
seems like overkill and silliness, but you'd be amazed at how much faster
the user's search goes. Every user is different, but every user knows the
difference between "Changing attributes of character styles" and "Changing
attributes of paragraph styles".

This is, of course, a lot of work for the writers, but it makes a world of
difference for the user. That's one reason we created Clustar, to make it
easier to document tasks. Written task-based, a manual is self-defining and
the user doesn't have to wade through preliminaries about "What's a style?"
and the like. That information is either separated into the various
clusters, or it's collected at the back, in a separate section that has
nothing but explanations. The cluster structure is also easier on the user
when the user doesn't KNOW what terminology to look up. That happens a lot
with custom software. The various buttons and fields are often poorly named,
or not named at all, so the user doesn't have something to look up.
Task-based clusters eliminate that problem, too.


Tim Altom
Simply Written, Inc.
Featuring FrameMaker and the Clustar(TM) System
"Better communication is a service to mankind."
317.562.9298
Check our Web site for the upcoming Clustar class info
http://www.simplywritten.com


> That's why I always use the index first when trying to complete a specific
> task.
>
> MAYBE the book could have been better organized to account for this
> particular task, but for EVERY task? Even those that rarely come up for a
> user? It's not always apparent to the USER where an item should be in the
> overall organization of the book, and every user is different.
>






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