RE: "They don't need no stinkin' documentation..."
David Locke says:
These days the biggest issue in the PC industry is how do we get phobic to use PCs and PC software. These people will not endure man pages. They will not tolerate what they feel is poor documentation. They are not motivated to learn or to wait. They don't want controls. They want to do their work. They don't want to do something, because the software insists on it. They insist on design.
Their insistence on design extends beyond manuals and help. They want the software tasks to be allocated to the software. They want to focus entirely on tasks from the automated domain, not the automation. They want defaults and power without all the feature bloating controls. They want embedded. They want a picture or a table that cuts a thousand words. They want a view, not a black box.
Sure the market for technical enthusiast technology will always be there, and a lot of us serve that market. But, the markets and audiences after that one still need good content, but the content changes and eventually, in phobic markets, better disappear almost completely.
I'm amused by this thread and generally agree that content is first and that design should aid the ability of the reader to obtain the information that they need.
But David's comment above puzzles me, and indicates that there are many different audiences for technical documentation. PC phobic? Unlikely to even pick up the technical documentation. In that case the user needs training, not documentation. That's my job as an instructional designer. It all depends on the audience. I can think of some businesses where "pretty" would be welcomed as "user-friendly" - (Hallmark Cards?) and others where it would be seen as frivolous. (KMPG)
Everything that David talks about in the first two paragraphs I would consider to be issues that should be addressed by training, carefully designed to suit the audience. After training users should have some well designed, useful Job Aids to have at their desk.
I've always assumed that technical documentation served the non-phobic users who understand that they'll get more out of the software if they read about it.
I guess I've stopped lurking.
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RE: "They don't need no stinkin' documentation...": From: david . locke
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