RE: craft vs. science vs. art

Subject: RE: craft vs. science vs. art
From: Phil Levy <PLevy -at- epion -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 24 Jun 2002 13:39:19 -0400


Willow, one point I want to clarify: all readers do want the same things.
What are those things? Good index, examples, and headings. Most of us spent
too much time writing the text, which is the least valuable part of the
document.

-----Original Message-----
From: Foster, Willow [mailto:WFoster -at- friedmancorp -dot- com]
Sent: Monday, June 24, 2002 1:12 PM
To: TECHWR-L
Subject: RE: craft vs. science vs. art



From: Phil Levy [mailto:PLevy -at- epion -dot- com]
~> This is a good point. But defining the user---isn't this
~> something that should be done in advance of everything
~> else?

Yes. Absolutely. I was more referring to the quote: "don't all readers want
the exact same things from all technical documents?" I think the answer to
that is no. Some readers want (need) every bit of everything little thing
written out for them. (Insert the CD face up, for example.) For other
readers, that level of detail is painful.

~> And if you have several levels of users you can come
~> up with a consistent method of differentiating levels of
~> info so that users can get what they want if they go to the
~> correct place, and the correct is defined by a consistent
~> heading or icon.

Yes, different headings and icon will certainly help and I use such things
quite often... I think we all do, right? But when I'm doc'ing for the
extreme user... the new person who's never seen a computer before (I doc a
product the runs on an AS/400, this isn't uncommon for me.) or the power
user who will cuss me a blue streak for pointing out that the CD goes face
up... it's different. They have different needs. It's not always in their
best interest to try and meet those needs in the same document.

I want to make it as easy as possible for a user to find what they are
looking for. (I assume the last thing a person wants to do is read what I've
written. I am only a necessary evil.) So ideally, a user just opens the
book, finds what they need, and then go on with their day. Trying to please
too many different types of readers in one doc makes this much harder.

~> The process of creating the document
~> doesn't have to change though, is my point.

I think the process does change. Or at least, I find different users require
a different way of thinking. If I used the same process for both extreme
types of readers, the techie folks would say very bad ugly things about me.
Actually, I think that goes both ways. Also, there are things I tell a power
user that I will not tell a beginner.

Willow


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