Re: PowerPoint Presentations for Doc/writer Impact?

Subject: Re: PowerPoint Presentations for Doc/writer Impact?
From: "Chuck Martin" <cm -at- writeforyou -dot- com>
To: techwr-l
Date: Tue, 24 Feb 2004 11:40:55 -0800

"Dick Margulis" <margulis -at- fiam -dot- net> wrote in message news:229994 -at- techwr-l -dot- -dot- -dot-
> k k wrote:
> > The effect of documentation on income can be exactly
> > quantified by a very simple experiment. Tell the
> > customers that when they buy your product you will
> > give them no documentation - no help system, no user
> > manual, no installation guide, no nothing. Try that
> > approach for one month and watch what happens to the
> > sales figures. After that, if the company is still in
> > business, you have exact figures down to the penny.
> >
> > Think anyone will ever try it? :-)
> People try it--and succeed--all the time.

I would argue that in many cases the product is either one that is commonly
used and that you have learned how to use (more often than not by being
taught) or one that is well designed enough that its use is easily implied
from its design

> Looking around my desk, I see the following products that came with no
> documentation:
> Various pens and markers

I bought a couple of these at my local Office Depot. On the packaging of one
pen, on the back, there is:

"To use, hold the barrel and twist cap to make a selection. Refer to symbol
on the cap."

There is also a 3-step procedure; its heading is:

"To refill:"

To be fair, this is a pen that has 3 things inside: black ink, red ink, and
a pencil.

Then the back of the highlighers documents not its use, but its features,
including a "micro-chisel tip."

> Tape dispenser
> Stapler

Every stapler I've seen has documentation (more often than not pictorial)
showing how to reload it, often different for different types of staplers.
More often than not, printed on the box, which most people probably don't

> Wastebasket
> File cabinets

I've seen filing cabinets with documentation, not so much for use, but for
how to lock and unlock. Sometimes for which way to put the folders in.`

> Storage cabiner
> Rolling cart
> Table
> Nameplate
> Suspended shelves with undershelf lights
> Paper clip holder/paper clips
> Push pins
> Rubber bands
> Note cube, memo pads, Post-Its
> The keyboard I'm typing on

My keyboard has a row of keys above the "standard" comptuer keyboard keys.
The center section is titled "Internet" with 7 keys, labeled "shopping,"
"sports," "finance," "connect," "search," "chat," and "e-mail." On the far
left of the row is a key shaped like a candy corn with a crescent moon
symbol. Next to that is a round key with a question mark. Next to that is a
group of 3 keys, one with the letters "hp" and two with symbols, one that
looks like a printer and one that looks like a camera. On the right is a
group of keys under the label "cd/dvd/mp3" and the labels are the common
abstract symbols for starting, stopping, pausing, fast forwarding, etc. (but
being "common" doens't mean that everyone knows them). Just to the right of
that is a large curcular button bisected horizontally (to make 2 buttons)
each with an arrowhead, the top one pointing up and the bottom one pointing
down. To the lower right of that one is a small button with a speaker
symbol, and in the far upper right there is another small one with a
sixteenth-note symbol.

> Mugs and cups
> Plastic drinking tumbler
> Box of business cards
> Ring binders
> Rulers
> Utility knife
> File folders
> Cheesecloth
> Steel wool
> Duct tape and three other kinds of specialty tape
> Screwdrivers
> Thinking about stuff I buy at the supermarket or discount store, there
> are hundreds of other items, from linens to furniture to kitchen gadgets
> to basic groceries to houseplanats that have nothing more than an
> identifying label with the minimum information required by law and custom.

Every half pint of milk I've ever seen (at least until they began being
produced in plastic bottles instead of paper cartons), from the time I was
in elementary school, had instructions printed on the carton that showed how
to open the carton.

Next time you buy a frozen food oitem or packaged meal item that requires
preparation, how would you do it if you didn't have the documentation?

On many products, documentation explains not only how to prepare or use the
product, but how to use the packaging.

> Yet all these things are produced by companies that don't see the need
> for user documentation and have somehow managed to stay in business.
> Of course your point is that it would be foolish to try to sell complex,
> feature-rich technological products with no documentation, and I
> completely agree. But we do need to remind ourselves from time to time
> that the world has lots of things in it that are not complex,
> feature-rich technological products.
You were not born with the knowledge to use even the simplest of products.
You learned. Many basic things that you now take for granted you still
learned long, long ago (for some of us longer than others).

Take a toothbrush. Simple, right? I bought this interesting one some years
back (and it wasn't cheap) with a very large oval brush area and very soft
bristles. It's design was such that when you crabbed the handle, it was
molded to fit your hand in a certain way, thereby angling the bristles to
(allegedly) perform a superior brushing job. Yes it had documentation
explaining all this, but its inherent design led you to its appropriate use.

Or take a door. More specifically, a door handle. How many times have you
encountered a door with a sign that said "PUSH" or "PULL?" Someone added
this documentation to this otherwise incredibly simple device because of bad
design: the design communicated its use in one way but its application
countered that communication. For example, a horizontal flat bar (that
communicates "push" that you have to pull to open. (If you want to see lots
more examples of how "common" things communicate--or fail to
communicate--their use, read Donald A. Norman's excellent "The Design of
Everyday Things."

The point is, everything in that list *is* documented. Much of that
documentation is inherent in its design, design that takes into account the
existing knowledge and experience of most users. But if you change the
design to the unfamiliar, and even though the function is the same, the
ability to use will be reduced.

Chuck Martin
User Assistance & Experience Engineer
twriter "at" sonic "dot" net

"I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me. The day
may come when the courage of Men fail, when we forsake our friends and
break all bonds of fellowship. But it is not this day! This day, we fight!"
- Aragorn

"All you have to decide is what to do with the time that is given you."
- Gandalf

Re: PowerPoint Presentations for Doc/writer Impact?: From: k k

Previous by Author: Re: Best idea of the week, make that year. Yeah, yeah, I know the year just started
Next by Author: Re: PowerPoint Presentations for Doc/writer Impact?
Previous by Thread: Re: PowerPoint Presentations for Doc/writer Impact?
Next by Thread: Re: PowerPoint Presentations for Doc/writer Impact?

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads