Re: These users have us stumped!

Subject: Re: These users have us stumped!
From: Janet Myers <myers032 -at- tc -dot- umn -dot- edu>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 23 Oct 2002 13:36:20 -0500

When I look at my first manuals of 15+ years ago, I'm amazed at how much background I used to write--and it was appreciated at the time.
I started with a brief introduction to concepts--2-5 pages--of both the application and the computer (user perspective: screen, keyboard, Hit ENTER). It was more narrative than a glossary and would have benefited from some graphics (not an option at the time).

Without giving the whole Windows manual, you could start with an introduction to computer concepts in the context of the application. It might include illustrations with callouts of a basic window, a mouse in action, a scroll bar... glossary or narrative descriptions of clicking, scrolling, and so on.

The information could be included in How to Use this Manual or Before You Begin

"Gilger.John" wrote:

> The TW crew here just had a chat with the folks in Apps Support/Training. They are asking us to dumb down the User Docs even more. Our product's GUI has been designed to be extremely intuitive and user friendly. Ease of use is a primary selling point.
> We write at approximately the 6th grade level now. Short sentances and simple words are the rule. One problem is that we make the assumption that the user is familier with using Windows. Not so, say the front line trainers.
> The end users do not know how to use a computer. At a recent training session (10 students) three students picked up their mice and touched the screen with it when told to "Point at the icon with your mouse." The lady managing these users says that they can't understand the context sensitive on-line help that says, "Right-click on XXX and select YYY from the list." and includes a screen shot of the cursor pointing at XXX and another screen shot of the expanded list with YYY highlighted.
> The root cause of this is that even though our customers pay well over a million dollars for our product, they won't pay the users more than $6 per hour (minimum wage). People with a high school education and posibly some exposure to computers won't work that cheap.
> So the question is: Does anyone have any experience or ideas about writing a non-technical user's guide for the totally clueless?
> John Gilger
> Senior Technical Writer
> Acres Gaming
> Las Vegas, NV

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