RE: How do you read a User Manual

Subject: RE: How do you read a User Manual
From: Fred Sampson <wfreds -at- cruzio -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 16 Jun 2004 18:59:53 -0700

At 06:35 AM 6/16/2004, Colin wrote:

That's fantastic.

Can you make these (or some useful part of your) usability results
available? Even just for objective statistical purposes and analysis?


The one report to which I have access was based on a combination of a user survey and user comments. Some of the results:

To a question about when users look at the documentation when starting work with a new system, about 50% said they started using the system without first consulting the documentation; the next highest score was for using the documentation only when they hit a roadblock. The response for reading the documentation completely before using the system scored very low.

About 50% preferred online documentation, 30% print.

To the question about how they use the documentation, 40% used the table of contents, 30% the index, and 30% used the flipping through the pages method. Search was not offered as a choice, but was specified by some users.

Judging by the user comments section of the study, being able to find information using the index was mentioned frequently, suggesting that users go looking for specific help, not reading everything. No one said "I find what I need by reading the entire book."

Anecdotally, management has told us that, since users depend so much on the index, that we have to focus on making our indexes very extensive and complete.

Sorry I can't present more detail. . .


Fred Sampson
Information Developer
fred -at- fredsampson -dot- com


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RE: How do you read a User Manual: From: Fred Sampson

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