RE: Business Process Information in a User Guide

Subject: RE: Business Process Information in a User Guide
From: Tara English-Sweeney <tesweeney -at- novadigm -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 4 Sep 2001 09:57:27 -0400

Erika wrote: Scott, you are so right! Lots of manuals tell you how to use a
feature, but they don't tell you why. This is true for hardware as well. I
am trying to change this approach here as much as I can and on the few
things we already did, we got excellent feedback from users. If anyone out
there has experience promoting the task-oriented approach, it would be great
to hear.
Hi Erika. We've been working to change the approach here too.

In order to help people understand the WHY, we have been including more
descriptive information, not only about what the reader is doing at the
moment, but about where it fits into the overall picture. We try to include
real-world examples, as well as graphics, such as work flows, targeted at
the reader - in language that makes sense to them.

Several of our books describe an overall process, using text and a graphic,
up front. Then, we use the graphic (and variations of the text) throughout
the book (e.g., at the beginning of each chapter) to help the readers see
where in the process they are. Also, we try to introduce procedures by
giving the reader background information about what they are about to do and
why they are doing it.

Also, we've been talking with other departments, such as customer support
and technical product management, to get their perspective on how people in
the "real world" use our products and what kinds of issues they run into.
This helps us to write useful information, that makes sense to our customers
- and stops us from focusing on the procedures only.

Tara English-Sweeney
Senior Technical Writer & Analyst
Novadigm, Inc.


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