When "Just do it" doesn't work

Subject: When "Just do it" doesn't work
From: "Michele Marques" <marquesm -at- autros -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 7 Sep 2000 11:58:29 -0400

You need user feedback (either directly, such as from surveys, or indirectly
from tech support) when you are documenting software to be used in
environments that you don't have access to, or experience with - especially
when your users will be using your software for tasks that were not
previously computerized, or were performed with software that had a
different metaphor.

For example, some of the software I am currently documenting is being used
by nurses on their rounds. Although I can play with the software and figure
out how to do all sorts of things, I am not going to know their mental
models or how they did these tasks before switching to our software.
Fortunately, we do have people with nursing experience on staff to give me
suggestions on how to improve the documentation. But if we didn't - or these
people weren't available to me, I would try to get user feedback from our
customers (e.g., from tech support, if I didn't want to directly bother the

Why am I working here without nursing experience? Because I also write
documentation for the hospital IT departments - and I do have experience as
a programmer and in tech support (in addition to tech writing experience).

Michele Marques
Technical Writer,
Autros Healthcare Solutions
marquesm -at- autros -dot- com
> http://www.raycomm.com/techwhirl/ for more resources and info.

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