RE: instructions

Subject: RE: instructions
From: "DeGuzman, Kathi" <Kathi -dot- Deguzman -at- Nextel -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 4 Jan 2001 09:47:15 -0500

Marilynne,
Two thoughts immediately came to mind -- I have a girlfriend who is so short
(about 4'9") that she has to stand on a chair to get the clothes out of her
washing machine (she is over 40). Would she be allowed to cook without
supervision?
Also, in New Orleans some bars serve to anyone who can reach the bar to put
money on top of it. Should my daughter (who is 9 years old and 5'0" tall) be
allowed to drink alcohol without my consent/presence just because she can
reach the bar?
These things (although seemingly off topic) relate to knowing that your
audience will always vary. Even if you are writing about a product that is
going to be used by developers, you always have to remember that there is
the possibility of a non-developer trying to use the product. With that in
mind, information should be formatted in such a way as to be useful to the
main audience, with subsequent information either referenced or appended in
the back of the manual or in a different guide altogether.Think about the
different books that are written about c++. You would agree that since C++
is a programming language, it will mostly used by programmers. However,
there are books that are written that target a non-programmer based
audience. These books provide concepts and other information that the
neophyte may need to be successful in learning C++.
My point is that I don't think you rarely know exactly who will be using the
product. Therefore, you do the best you can targeting the main audience (the
ones that you are sure will be the majority users) and then either provide
supplemental instructions for the novice, or indicate that some background
information is needed before using either the product or the manual.
Relating to Mac & Cheese, Maybe one side of the box should keep the basic
directions, and the other side should have directions that are geared more
towards children who may be old enough and experienced enough to cook
without supervision, but don't know anything about how to know if the
product is completed.
JMHO,
Kathi Jan DeGuzman
Senior Technical Writer
Kathi -dot- Deguzman -at- nextel -dot- com <mailto:Kathi -dot- Deguzman -at- nextel -dot- com>
When I hear somebody sigh that "Life is hard," I am always tempted to ask,
"Compared to what?" ~ Sidney J. Harris
<http://www.cybernation.com/victory/quotations/authors/quotes_harris_sidneyj
.html>

I agree. My rule for cooking was that the kids had to be able to look down
on the stove with enough height allowed to prevent their face from being
spattered. Absolutely NO CHAIRS or other devices.

Marilynne

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