RE: Too much structure

Subject: RE: Too much structure
From: Jim Shaeffer <jims -at- spsi -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 14 Jun 2000 11:03:03 -0400

[J]ust about every software help system, online or in print, lets you down
just when you
need it the most. The main reason for this <snip> is that we're writing the
darn stuff while it's being invented. By the time we've really figured out
what the user needs to know,
we're working on another project. <end snip>

JoAnn Hackos, at the recent STC conference, appied Moore's book _Crossing
the Chasm_, to software documentation. One idea was that the budget for
documentation and help projects should start out small (when the product is
new) and increase as the product matures, reaching its maximum about the
time the product is stable enough and complete enough to appeal to a mass
market that needs lots of security, guidance and hand-holding.
The early adopters aren't going to use the Help file that much, anyway. They
like to play and discover how things work. (Also, the early adopters can put
up with a lot of doubt and uncertainty because they see themselves getting
lots of bang for the buck.) The users who really need the complete
documnentation set with lots guidance are the Late Majority, who value
stability and ease of use.
The slides from her presentation are on the Web at, but this idea is not illustrated on the

Jim Shaeffer
jims -at- spsi -dot- com

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