Re: Making them read the documentation

Subject: Re: Making them read the documentation
From: Paul Goble <pg -at- pgcommunication -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 27 Apr 2001 16:53:32 -0600

Christine asked:
> Paul, was there anything in the *content* that users could
> have possibly mistaken for marketing fluff?

They didn't look at the document long enough to even read the
title, "Quick Start." When asked, they didn't even know what
it was they had tossed aside. All they knew is that it was
very colorful and thin.

The document was printed on large sheet of cardstock, and placed
so that it was the first thing they saw upon opening the box.
(Actually, the product came in two boxes. Box #1 contained
the Quick Start. Box #2 contained a "real" manual.)
The dominant visual elements were the title ("Quick Start") and
a sweeping curve which was intended to guide the eye through the
mostly-graphical steps.

> 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.)

We tried five subjects, all engineers, before we gave up. If I
recall correctly, four of them ignored the document. When the
document was pointed out to them after the test, they all "liked"
it and agreed that it would have been useful. *Sigh*

By way of contrast, the box also contained some downright ugly
sheets of paper, such as a packing list. The users examined each
of these documents closely, until they were confident that the
information was or was not relevant to their task.

Paul Goble


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