Re: Post-holiday reality: They don't need our stinkin' manuals??

Subject: Re: Post-holiday reality: They don't need our stinkin' manuals??
From: Tom Murrell <trmurrell -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 28 Dec 2000 06:17:49 -0800 (PST)

--- "Cook, Jenise" <jenise -dot- cook-crabbe -at- pacificlife -dot- com> wrote:

> Is that what our jobs are all about, writing manuals that many
> users do not read? I asked myself that question that evening. I
> decided that no matter how the users out there may or may not
> use the documentation we write, some users definitely will.
> Those are the users I write for, and think of during the planning
> phase.
> So, how many of you endure your family's chuckles at holidays or
> birthdays where "techie" gifts are given, and the manuals are
> untouched? Do family and friends wonder why you do what you
> do for a living?

Heck, my BOSS wonders what I do for a living <g>. I'm only being a
little tongue in cheek. My manager is a good manager (I can say that
since he doesn't read this list), but he comes from a more technical
background. Frankly, he picked up our group to manage, in addition to
his other responsibilities, because it didn't require any additional
work on his part. We pretty much run ourselves.

As far as the family is concerned, I don't preach to them about using
the manual because *I* don't use the manual, unless I'm forced to (by
bad design) or I've figured out all the basics and now I want to learn
the more intricate activities.

Class, repeat after me: Good documentation cannot save a bad design.

It doesn't matter what the boss or client says; the above statement is
a fact, a law of nature. It is Truth itself.

That said, we have work because too many product designers (whatever
their title is) don't have the time to get it right (or don't take it).
So we're called on to do what we can. But there is no documentation
that is good enough to save a bad design.

Now, not all documentation is intended to 'save' designs. Some is
intended to complement a good design, because the overall product needs
documentation to explain some things. Not everything CAN be intuitive.
Still, in far too many cases we won't know, because we haven't tried.

Oh yeah, when people ask me why *I* don't read the fine manual, since I
am after all one of those who write them, I answer: "I know the kind of
people who write that stuff. You can't believe THEM!"

Happy Holidays (for those of you having them),

Tom Murrell
Lead Technical Writer
Alliance Data Systems
Columbus, Ohio
mailto:trmurrell -at- yahoo -dot- com
Personal Web Page -

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