RE: Customers who read manuals from cover to cover

Subject: RE: Customers who read manuals from cover to cover
From: "Brierley, Sean" <Sean -at- Quodata -dot- Com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 7 Sep 2001 11:25:26 -0400


The "nobody reads the manual anyway" idea is a complete and utter myth that
is too-often used as an excuse to divert resources away from documentation
or, at least, as an excuse for hurried or poorly planned and considered
documentation. The truth is, most of the people that repeat "nobody reads
the manual anyway" have never studied or tested that theory and they have no
clue whether it is true. They are basing that thought on the fact that they,
themselves, do not read the manual, probably because:

1) They are very familiar with the product in question and don't really need
to refer to the manual.
2) The manual is poorly done because adequate resources and time were not
given to documentation, thus a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts.

FWIW, if **I** have your hardware, software, device, electronic equipment,
or car, I **have** read your manual and I am **not** Japanese.


sean -at- quodata -dot- com

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Chris Gooch [SMTP:Chris -at- lightwork -dot- co -dot- uk]
> The tendency in our company was to undermine the value of documentation,
> by claiming that "nobody ever reads them anyway." All this changed when a
> high-level delegation, led by our CEO went to visit an important customer
> in Japan, and found out that they have a team of engineers, who sit with
> marking pens and go through every word in the manuals, underlining parts
> they don't understand or which aren't clear. If they find a single mistake
> or inaccuracy in the documentation, then this apparently undermines their
> entire faith in the manuals and the value of the product.
> ++++
> Warren -
> I can confirm that we have had this experience with Japanese customers -
> it
> is
> a cultural thing I think. Definitely something to be aware of if you deal
> with
> Japan.
> Of course, it should not be assumed that all Japanese people / companies
> are culturally identical... but it doesn't hurt to understand that there
> often
> are such differences between the "western" and "japanese" ways of doing
> things.


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