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My docs go through three types of testing before they're "released".
First, we have formal QA to check for agregious errors. Second,
I circulate the document informally among employees who act as
customers. Finally, my company uses a beta test period for new
software and my docs are included in the beta testing.
At my company, all docs bound for external readers go through a
formal QA process, just like our software. The QA team is there
to check technical accuracy. These folks are familiar with the
product and can correct out-and-out errors. Bugs in the docs
are treated just like bugs in the software. They are reported in
our bug tracking database and I fix bugs and send the docs back
to QA for verification.
As for determining "useful and readable", I circulate my docs
to potential audience members in an informal manner. Though the
types of docs I'm talking about here are aimed at our customers,
a good number of our employees could just as easily be customers.
I send the document to them asking for feedback. In all honesty,
this method has met with only limited success. I have trouble
getting other people to actually read the docs.
Finally, the beta test cycle is a great time to work out the
last bugs in docs. This phase is the single most useful for me.
Real users really read the docs and report problems.
From: train2 -at- sprynet -dot- com
Sent: 3/13/01 12:13 PM
Subject: writing quality
So...how do we know what we write is useful and readable?
Are there methods for checking? Who tests the documentation?
Looking for a little feedback here.
IPCC 01, the IEEE International Professional Communication Conference,
October 24-27, 2001 at historic La Fonda in Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA.
CALL FOR PAPERS OPEN UNTIL MARCH 15. http://ieeepcs.org/2001/
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