RE: Developing a troubleshooting guide

Subject: RE: Developing a troubleshooting guide
From: "Joe Malin" <jmalin -at- tuvox -dot- com>
To: "Peter Neilson" <neilson -at- alltel -dot- net>, <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Sat, 11 Mar 2006 15:25:36 -0800

Yeah, but that's treating users like babies, and I dislike that. It also
is bound to generate calls to tech support!

In my experience, good design involves several things:
* Make the setup/install/startup as automatic as possible. Put your best
engineers to work on it.
Then let your tech support people critique their work. Once the user
has a problem getting the
darn thing going, you've lost 50% of their good will and attention.
* *Provide documentation*. The real problem is that lots of
shareware/freeware comes with *nothing*.
* If you provide documentation, at least have a tech writer *edit* it.
Engineers and tech gurus can
write reasonably well, but that's not the same as writing really good
technical documentation. *AND I KNOW!*
I was one of those SW engineers who figured he could write as well as
any tech writer. WRONG-O! Fortunately
I had a patient manager and mentor who collectively let me figure out
how dumb that attitude was.
* Make the documentation easy to use in the environment. Lots of people
don't have extra room around their
computer for books; don't have a telephone close by, and so forth.

Nonetheless, Peter's basic idea is a good one; hide easter eggs and
challenge people to find them. They'll at least *open the book*. I will
send off to Sweden immediately.


Joe Malin
Technical Writer
jmalin -at- tuvox -dot- com
The views expressed in this document are those of the sender, and do not
necessarily reflect those of TuVox, Inc.

-----Original Message-----
From: Peter Neilson [mailto:neilson -at- alltel -dot- net]
Sent: Friday, March 10, 2006 5:06 AM
To: Joe Malin; techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Subject: Re: Developing a troubleshooting guide

There is a way that has been known for years and has lain unused as far
as I know. The software (or some smart
hardware) asks the user, "Have you read the READ THIS FIRST manual or
card?" If the user answers, "Yes," the equipment refuses to operate,
and continues to ask the question.
Somewhere on page two or three of READ THIS FIRST is the
*correct* answer. It's something like, "Sure have," or "You betcha."

Where is my prize?


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