RE: Advocating Documentation and Support

Subject: RE: Advocating Documentation and Support
From: Steve Shepard <STEVES -at- YARDI -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 8 Mar 2001 12:01:30 -0800

Connie Giordano writes:
> Engineers and Programmers who answer thusly do so because
> they think product
> design centers on the designer not the end user.
> As a result they would never last in consumer product design.
> What this whole series says to me is that two things need to happen:
> 1) Engineers need to face the music--they are no more the
> right hand of God
> than that doctor who treats you like an idiot (you don't
> have an MD so you
> can't possibly know what's wrong with you). The goal is NOT
> bug-free code
> and the engineer's ego IS products that
> people can use,
> will use, and will be satisfied with.

Part of the problem is the way the software industry began. It was started
by engineers. Many companies are still run by engineers. PCs began on DOS
type operating systems where the programmers were doing us a favor by
creating something we could do by typing in cryptic commands instead of
knowing how to program ourselves. At least that seemed to be the attitude.
And we were thrilled. What took us hours to do with a pad a paper and
calculator now took minutes, even if it took us months to really learn all
those commands.

But it's a different world now. Computers are appliances. And as such should
be as easy to use.

A lecturer I heard recently talking about online help was making the
argument that more thought had to be given to what the user needed, not the
programming involved. She said that programming should not be the first
consideration. She said it should be the last. And I tend to agree. Figure
out what the customer needs, design the interface around that not
programming constraints, and give to the programmers and say, "this is what
we need." Yeah, they will say it can't be done or it's too hard, but then
they will figure out how to do it and then it is easy to repeat. How many
programmers 20 years ago thought Photoshop was possible? Now every $25 paint
program has many of it's features.

steve shepard


Develop HTML-Based Help with Macromedia Dreamweaver 4 ($100 STC Discount)
**New Dates!!** San Francisco (Apr 16-17), San Jose (Mar 29-30) or 800-646-9989.

IPCC 01, the IEEE International Professional Communication Conference,
October 24-27, 2001 at historic La Fonda in Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA.

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