RE: Task-based vs. descriptive online help? (quasi-summary)

Subject: RE: Task-based vs. descriptive online help? (quasi-summary)
From: "Newman, Sarah" <snewman -at- bechtel -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 8 Mar 2001 14:25:45 -0600

>>"This is the Name field. The Name field is where
>>the Name goes!"

>>the self-evident stuff goes, the actually
>>helpful stuff stays.

>But is the NAME field such a bad example? All I see is an example
of >bad help writing. The NAME of what? My name, the clients name, the
>application name, or maybe something else?
>The other big problem is which stuff is self-evident? and to whom?
I >would rather ask for help and find that I had missed something obvious
>than get frustrated looking for help that is not there.

>The fields (or any other function or component) may be obvious to
you, >but never assume the knowledge level, competence, or state of mind of
>your user is such that it is self-evident
>to them.

The best example I have of the problem with "self-evident": In my freshman
year of college I took Natural Science for liberal arts students. The
professor was awful--he got bad evaluations from graduate students who
didn't understand him. He would start working an equation on the board and
then stop about midway through it. He would then sort of wave his hand and
say "And the rest is intuitive." As one student wrote on his evaluation "If
it were f****** intuitive, we'd be physics majors!"

Sarah Newman
Information Systems and Technology
(713) 235-3352
(281) 240-9111


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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