Tech Writing and McDonald's...

Subject: Tech Writing and McDonald's...
From: Charles E Vermette <cvermette -at- juno -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 1 Mar 2002 09:15:56 -0500

Our resident sigaholic Keith Cronin closed a recent post with the

<<<I'm pretty excited - I found this great job posting for a position as
a high-speed culinary distribution technician at some local firm called
McDonald's. Wonder what kind of software they make...>>>

After reviewing their product descriptions, they certainly need some tech
writing help - as obvious from the following example (a description of
the ingredients in their "Big Mac" product line:)

* Two all beef patties
* Special sauce
* Lettuce
* Cheese
* Pickles
* Onions, on a
* Sesame seed bun

This is clearly a case of someone who thought that because they knew
something about Information Mapping, that could call themselves a Tech
Writer! Yes, the 7 +/-2 rule is observed, but note the information
missing that is critical to both the developers and the target audience:

* What exactly are "all beef patties," and how does this distinguish
McDonald from the competition? Why are two better than one? In this day
and age? How do you know if the target audience values quantity over

Furthermore, what are the dimensions of these patties? Let's save some
calls to tech support by putting this information in the document.

* Most egregious of all, what is "special" about the "special sauce"? The
users want features and benefits. The developers need infomration on
process. They need a cross reference to the API Guide should they want to
customize the sauce for McDonald's "New Tastes Menu" initiative.

* There are myriad varieties of Lettuce, Cheese, Pickles and Onions.
Again, more detail on features is needed. Users have different
preferences for these items, and want to know if they can be customized.

For example - my wife is Filipino, and I am an SME of Filipino culture
who has eaten at McDonald's in the Philippines. The Philippine standard
is to have sweet pickles, as opposed to dill pickles, in their
hamburgers. The issue of customization is especially critical for the
localization process, and if this writer was willing to be involved in
the product development they would address this. Burger King, one of
their strongest competitors, emphasizes that the user can "have it their

* Finally, some needed detail. While we know specifically that we have a
"Sesame Seed Bun," is this the only option available to the user? Again,
a good writer would flesh out these details.

This is what happens when a TW doesn't want to dig into the technical
details, be involved in product development, or understand the internal
and external audience.

Charles E. Vermette
85 Washington Park Drive, Norwell MA 02061
e-mail: cvermette -at- juno -dot- com

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Office or RoboHelp Enterprise. Hurry, this offer expires February 28, 2002.

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