RE. Sticky documentation?

Subject: RE. Sticky documentation?
From: "Hart, Geoff" <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
To: "Techwr-L (E-mail)" <TECHWR-L -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Sun, 9 Apr 2000 11:35:23 -0400

Darren Barefoot documents <<...a software product that is often installed
and used by neophyte users. As a result, we were planning on including a
very straightforward "Installation Quick Reference Card" in the box, that
would guide the user through the installation process via steps and a
flowchart. ... somebody from QA came up with the brilliant idea to make
these cards like Post-It notes, so that the user can slap it on the edge of
their monitor or on the wall, and follow along.>>

Post-it documentation sounds like an idea that's more interesting in theory
than in practice. Personally, I'm not keen on that notion at all, among
other things because stickies lose their stick fairly rapidly, and tend to
adhere to the nonsticky documentation once you put them back in the box. If
you wanted to try something really funky along those lines, how about using
transparent soft plastic overlays that adhere to the monitor via static
electricity? (I've seen these in children's sticker books: no glue, but the
little plastic labels adhere nicely to smooth surfaces such as glass.) The
templates would stay onscreen full-time if required (talk about online
help!), so users wouldn't have to look away from the monitor, and they'd be
sticky essentially forever. Plus, they'd fit nicely in the box when you're
done, without gumming up the rest of the docs. <g> (If you take this idea
and run with it, remember: you heard it here first! For a not insignificant
fee, I'll explain how you can account for different monitor sizes and
resolutions in this approach. <g x 2>)

I suspect your original idea is better, but perhaps you could come up with
something similar that combines both your approach and that of QA. Turn the
cards into one of those desk calendars that folds into a prism shape, with a
triangular cross-section, that supports itself. That should fit on most
desks right under the monitor, it's easy to flip pages, and if you print a
real calendar on the back of the doc pages, you can help make it useful
enough to ensure that it sits on the desk, close at hand for all

--Geoff Hart, FERIC, Pointe-Claire, Quebec
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca

"Technical writing... requires understanding the audience, understanding
what activities the user wants to accomplish, and translating the often
idiosyncratic and unplanned design into something that appears to make
sense."--Donald Norman, The Invisible Computer

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