RE: Don Norman on Manual Writing

Subject: RE: Don Norman on Manual Writing
From: "Joe Malin" <jmalin -at- tuvox -dot- com>
To: "Nuckols, Kenneth M" <Kenneth -dot- Nuckols -at- mybrighthouse -dot- com>, "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 27 Dec 2005 09:45:21 -0800

Ken Nuckols wrote:

3) "Get rid of the lawyers, or at the least, put their required warnings
in a separate booklet or Appendix. When a manual is needed, it is needed
right away, and having to work one's way through umpteen pages of legal
warnings (that are behaviorally ineffective) only increases the anxiety
level and decreases the pleasure of the product." -- This will never
happen because of the need for companies to protect themselves from
liability. As stupid as it may seem, if you neglect to put the warning
that one shouldn't use a hair dryer in the bathtub in the main manual,
in a conspicuous label on the product, and on the packaging, those same
lawyers you fired will escort that one idiot client who thought drying
his/her hair in the shower was a good idea to court against your company
and will probably win.

Don't blame the lawyers. They'd stop bringing these suits in a heartbeat
if juries would stop ruling in favor of the plaintiffs against the "big,
bad" corporations. Also, those warnings may serve a *purpose*. I've seen
warnings on clothes irons to the effect of "don't iron clothes while
wearing them", and also documented instances of people doing just that!

I do favor putting all the warnings in an Appendix, then putting a
warning at the bottom of the first page that basically says "If you use
this product without reading the warnings, you are using it in an unsafe
manner and the company will not be liable." Of course, people won't read
the warnings, but do they read them anyway? *Tell* me you read every
line of a license during an installation :)

Joe
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