Re: Making them read the documentation

Subject: Re: Making them read the documentation
From: Christine -dot- Anameier -at- seagate -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 27 Apr 2001 15:34:06 -0500

Paul Goble offered this alarming anecdote:
> After working with a graphic designer to develop
> a visually attractive quick-start guide, we were
> horrified to see usability test subjects
> *literally* toss our work aside. "Marketing stuff,"
> they grumbled. "Now where's the manual?"

This strikes fear into my heart. I've come to believe that most people
react positively to good design, whether they're consciously aware of it or
not. I'm in the process of finishing a 150-page manual that is loaded with
screen captures (cropped, annotated, and often drop-shadowed) and
painstakingly laid out, and I would hate to have users dismiss it as
marketing fluff just because it isn't ugly.

Paul, was there anything in the *content* that users could have possibly
mistaken for marketing fluff? For example, I've seen manuals that begin
with sales pitches (overt or thinly veiled) and "about this manual" stuff.
To me, an "our [fabulous] product will help you blah blah blah more
effectively" overview smells like marketing.

Or did your quick-start guide get right to business immediately?

What proportion of your subjects overall reacted negatively to the visual
design of the guide? Did you have any test subjects with the opposite
reaction? (....she said, with a last glimmer of hope.)

Man, now I'll be fretting about this all weekend... ;)



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