Conceptual Info (Was Re: Technical Writing Tests)

Subject: Conceptual Info (Was Re: Technical Writing Tests)
From: Amy Smith/Westford/IBM <amy_smith -at- us -dot- ibm -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 14 Feb 2003 10:01:09 -0500

<snippage from Bonnie's post>
> Conceptual information may be more valuable under certain limited
> circumstances, but most users want to know how to *do* something.

Disagree. I think it depends on your user/role/persona - whatever. I write
about Domino server security for admins, and the bulk of my doc is
conceptual. IMNSHO, admins need to understand *why* you might need to use
various security features, and how they work. Then admins can implement
those features, as they need do.

> That assumes the software is well-designed and intuitive, and that users
> the luxury of spending five minutes reading about concepts. A good
> introduces the steps in a process with just enough conceptual
information to
> prepare the user to perform the task.

Disagree. Let me give a specific example. Being able to follow the
procedure for setting up a Domino certificate authority is useless (no
matter how well-written the doc or well-designed the interface) if you
have no idea why you are doing it or what the ramifications are for your
server environment. Admins really need to know all about CAs prior to
implementing one.

> Maybe that's because most users of documentation want to know how to use
> software, not how or why it does what it does.

In my experience with our users (and this would be Domino admins), they
want to know how the durn thang works.

Again, perhaps this is unique to our users (they do tend to like to tweak
our product endlessly! But this is a good thing - they are often a good
source of feedback on the doc).



Amy Smith | GPD User Assistance | IBM Software Group/Lotus Software
Phone 978.399.5009 | Tie line: 399.5009 | Email: amy_smith -at- us -dot- ibm -dot- com
-- IBM Confidential --
"The problem with America is stupidity. I'm not saying there should be a
capital punishment for stupidity, but why don't we just take the safety
labels off of everything and let the problem solve itself?"--Unknown


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Re: Technical Writing Tests: From: Bonnie Granat

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