RE: Using the STOP methodology

Subject: RE: Using the STOP methodology
From: SteveFJong -at- aol -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Sat, 15 Sep 2001 20:51:18 EDT

I was bemused and somewhat distressed by Susan W. Gallagher's
<SGallagher -at- akonix -dot- com> story about end-user audiences who found STOP
documentation too simple ("like Mac documentation") and apparently forced her
to write more complexly. That's what we get for believing that gasbag Thoreau
8^) I suppose her readers must also hate the Microsoft "At a Glance" series,
which to my eyes is almost pure STOP.

Some years ago I learned an offshoot of Weiss's methodology, called
Structured Documentation, from SOLUTIONS in Reading, MA. I have used it
happily and successfully ever since. At Lightbridge I have enjoyed the rare
opportunity to run a doc group and call the shots, and we have written
several hundred structured documents. In six years, the only problem has been
a mid-level manager from a large client who tried to throw his weight around
by saying, "Well, I like the pictures on the left instead of the right." I
didn't do it 8^)

While there are some artificialities associated with the layout of a
structured document, there are artificialities with conventional documents,
too. (I'll never forget standing by silently fuming as a reader tried to find
a piece of information in one of my pre-structured documents. He passed the
level 1 head over and over again; he never found it. All because it was on
the bottom of the right-hand page 8^( The discipline of writing lean,
well-chunked topics pays dividends when going online or translating.
(Remember, online readers hate to scroll.) More and more, GUI-based user's
guide approach the simplicity and structure of structured documents. As long
as I've been using it, I feel the rest of the field is just catching up!

-- Steve

Steven Jong, Documentation Team Manager (Typo? What tpyo?)
Lightbridge, Inc., 67 South Bedford St., Burlington, MA 01803 USA
mailto:jong -at- lightbridge -dot- com -dot- nospam 781.359.4902 [voice]
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