RE: Making them read the documentation

Subject: RE: Making them read the documentation
From: "Michele Marques" <marquesm -at- autros -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 25 Apr 2001 12:32:15 -0400

S Godfrey writes:

> In my company, not only our users, but our installation people
> fail to refer to the manual. I set it up to be either read, or
> quickly referred to. But still, our installation people
> repeatedly ask engineering the most basic questions - ones that
> are answered easily in the manual. For whatever reason, no one
> wants to read it.

To get people to read the documentation, you have to ask yourself: why are
they not reading the documentation? You may have to improve documentation
and/or access. Also, those people answering questions that could be answered
by the documentation should refer users/internal staff to the documentation
(assuming it takes longer to answer the question than to refer the
questioner to the documentation).

The point of documentation is so that the user doesn't have to waste time
calling Support, and so Support can control costs by not answering the same
question all the time (which should have been answered in the
documentation). But this only works if the documentation adequately supports
the needs of the user, and the user can easily access the appropriate
portions of the documentation.

Some questions you might ask are:
Can users easily get to the documentation? If the documentation is only in
print and PDF, but your tool is a client/server application with lots of
users, they might not have access to the documentation. Perhaps they need
"help" built into the application.

Can users locate the relevant portion of documentation? Most people don't
want to sit and read a manual. They only turn to the documentation when they
get stuck, and they will only look at your documentation if it is easy to
locate the answer to their question. Maybe you need context-sensitive help,
a good index, or a re-write of the documentation that re-organizes
information to be useful in trouble-shooting.

If these are installation or set-up instructions, maybe the instruction
steps are getting lost in the explanations. Perhaps people don't need some
of the explanations you are providing, extra information can be moved to
appendices, or you can make it more clear what are steps.

Is the documentation accurate? Is it correct and does it actually explain
the information? If the information is wrong or doesn't explain what the
user needs to know, the user will abandon the documentation and turn to the
engineers, who are providing this information.

Michele Marques
Technical Writer,
Autros Healthcare Solutions
marquesm -at- autros -dot- com

This material is intended for the use of the individual to whom it is
addressed and may contain information that is privileged, proprietary,
confidential and exempt from disclosure. If you are not the intended
recipient or the person responsible for delivering the material to the
intended recipient, you are notified that dissemination, distribution or
copying of this communication is strictly prohibited. If you have received
this communication in error, please contact the sender immediately via
e-mail and destroy this message accordingly.


*** Deva(tm) Tools for Dreamweaver and Deva(tm) Search ***
Build Contents, Indexes, and Search for Web Sites and Help Systems
Available 4/30/01 at or info -at- devahelp -dot- com

Sponsored by DigiPub Solutions Corp, producers of PDF 2001 Conference East,
June 4-6, Baltimore, MD. Now covering Acrobat 5. Early registration deadline
April 27.

You are currently subscribed to techwr-l as: archive -at- raycomm -dot- com
To unsubscribe send a blank email to leave-techwr-l-obscured -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Send administrative questions to ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com -dot- Visit for more resources and info.


Making them read the documentation: From: S Godfrey

Previous by Author: RE: New TECHWR-L Poll Question (Certification)
Next by Author: Certification rants
Previous by Thread: RE: Making them read the documentation
Next by Thread: RE: Making them read the documentation

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads