RE: Minimalist or low-level?

Subject: RE: Minimalist or low-level?
From: Geoff Purchase <Geoff -dot- Purchase -at- ReTechGlobal -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 5 Mar 2002 11:06:16 +1000

Subject: Minimalist or low-level?
My co-workers are minimalist procedure writers and I'm a low-level procedure
writer. That is, I write "On the File menu, click Open" while they write
"open the record." I am currently weighing the better method of writing:
minimalist or low-level. I don't have a true knowledge of our target
audience, but my co-workers have assumed they are skilled users and would be
insulted by such low-level writing. We all write for the same project, so
it's crucial we remain consistent. I've read through the archive, and some
say that this decision is best made when you know your target audience.
Since this is unlikely, I've assumed our target audience is a general user.
Somewhat familiar with our system, yet new to whatever concept or procedure
I am writing. In addition, I've already written low-level procedures (so as
not to assume my target audience is well versed) With that said, I've
embarked on a quest to convince myself and perhaps my co-workers that
low-level procedures are best. However, I need supporting data. Can anyone
provide me with a reason why low-level writing is better than minimalist?
Or, vice-versa?
mailto:scott -dot- parsons -at- ps -dot- net

Hi Scott,

What about the simplest reason: lowest common demoninator. Experienced
users are unlikely to conintually refer to the manual - which reinforces
their belief that manuals are for newbies. The low-level approach ensures
that the least skilled user is still able to perform all functions. The
highly skilled users are also able to perform their functions and find
assistance when required. The minimalist approach forces the least skilled
users to ask the most skilled users for assistance with basic tasks.

Without an audience analysis how can you be sure that your entire audience
understands what a record is? If in doubt about your audience, imagine them
to be first time users.


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