Re: Swaggin' for Dollars

Subject: Re: Swaggin' for Dollars
From: "Michele Marques" <mmarques -at- cms400 -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Date: Mon, 10 Apr 2000 11:42:46 -0400

Damien Braniff wrote:

> > >> need. If they are much more experienced they may think the docs are a bit
> > >> simple/condescending/whatever then they will skim read the docs and STILL
> > >> get the info they need.

Eric Ray wrote:
> Do you _know_ this, or is this speculation? It sounds really good (and is
> soothing
> to tech writer's ears), but I'd like to see some usability studies that
> verify or disprove it. I know that in my case, if I start glossing over
> the "Choose File->Open, then in the Open Dialog box enter the name of the
> file you want to open in the File Open field, then click Enter" information
> (when "Open blah" would have sufficed), I usually end up missing the information
> I really needed and have to reread three or more times to get it.
> In the case of these particular docs, I grin and bear it, but if I'd purchased
> a product or book, I'd be quite dissatisfied (and the person who wrote
> the docs would squirm while watching me use them).

One alternative is to include the basic information in a way that the
expert won't miss critical non-basic information. For some
materials, this can be handled with a separate chapter for
beginners (e.g., an introductory chapter or an appendix).

For information that must be followed sequentially, the information
can be arranged to make it easy for the expert user to skip over the
basic information. For example, headings can guide the expert's
eyes to the next point after basic information.

Michele Marques
Lead Technical Communicator, CMS Manufacturing Systems
mmarques -at- cms400 -dot- com
905-477-4499 x280

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