Moving upstream

Subject: Moving upstream
From: Beth Agnew <Beth -dot- Agnew -at- senecac -dot- on -dot- ca>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 19 May 2006 10:37:56 -0700

In a reply on the Troubleshooting? thread, Geoff Hart noted:
"Why leave to chance something you can automate for the
user? For that matter, why not test whether the user created a known
problem after each step, and if so, pop up a note telling them how to
fix it?"

Why not, indeed? These and a hundred other good ideas for making life better
for the user are things best handled at the analysis and design stage,
rather than in documentation. Unfortunately, this upstream position is often
a place where techwriters are not welcome. The few of us who successfully
insinuate ourselves into the design process find that we can make useful and
cost-effective changes that improve the product long before it gets to the
QA or Customer Support Complaint stage.

The sad thing is that so few companies understand that prevention is less
expensive than rehabilitation.

Just wondering, how many of you have the opportunity to provide input on
behalf of the user at earlier stages in the development process?

STC Conference Presentation: Podcasting & Vidcasting: The Future of TechComm

Beth Agnew
Professor, Technical Communication
Seneca College of Applied Arts & Technology
Toronto, ON 416-491-5050 x3133


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Troubleshooting?: From: Geoff Hart

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