Re: TOC article in INTERCOM -- things that made me go "HUH??"

Subject: Re: TOC article in INTERCOM -- things that made me go "HUH??"
From: "Michael West" <mbwest -at- bigpond -dot- net -dot- au>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Sun, 15 Dec 2002 14:59:28 +1100



----- Original Message -----
From: "Gordon Meyer" <gordonmeyer -at- mac -dot- com>

> On Friday, December 13, 2002, at 08:58 AM, jgarison -at- ide -dot- com wrote:
>
> > IMHO, I think most TOCs in online help are unusable, unused, and a
> > waste of
> > time.
>
> Hear, hear, John! I have personally watched numerous user studies where
> participants spent a long time, and got very frustrated, while
> "treasure hunting" the topic they wanted among the hundreds of choices
> offered in a TOC.


Um, well, the corollary part of the argument that you
seem to be agreeing with was that users "never
use" TOCs. So which is it? You can't have it both ways.

The frustrated users you describe are users who
have been given a TOC that does not correspond
to their view of the world. The fault is with the Help,
author--not with the utility of a TOC as a navigational
aid. It has to be well-built to be useful. Just "being
there" isn't good enough.

The fact that someone sold someone a lemon
doesn't mean automobiles are useless.


> In contrast, those who searched, found their
> information in just seconds. If a user knows what they're looking for
> then searching is much faster.


And yes, if what you are looking for is a discrete
particle of information rather than a top-down survey,
the index or FTS is the way to go.

--
Mike W
Melbourne


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Re: TOC article in INTERCOM -- things that made me go "HUH??": From: Gordon Meyer

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