Standard Doc Review Cycle-Online/Print Help?

Subject: Standard Doc Review Cycle-Online/Print Help?
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: Gurpreet Singh <gurpreet2311 -at- gmail -dot- com>, TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 04 Jul 2006 09:29:48 -0400

Gurpreet Singh wondered: <<Are there any industry defined specific review/test cycles that one can apply in testing or reviewing documents, for both online and print media? Are these different for print and online help?>>

I'm sure there are specific standards for specific industries, but you'd have to name the actual industry you're working in to get focused advice. I think reviews for print and help are more similar than they are different, though the details differ; for example, in print, you have to flip to the specified page to confirm that a cross-reference is correct, whereas in online help, you have to click a hyperlink.

Specific and more major differences relate to how the different media are implemented. For example, print isn't context-sensitive, so you have an extra step in reviewing help: does the right topic come up when you click the Help button? Conversely, in print layouts, you have to check for good/bad page breaks, which isn't a problem in online material, where the pages are infinitely long, and the "page breaks" are defined by the reader as they scroll.

<<Does STC, or any similar organization provides guidelines/best practices over this?>>

STC doesn't provide anything official, but I suspect various professional societies that focus on "Quality" are likely to have at least draft standards. In the meantime, an article of mine that provides a general overview of designing an effective review process will be appearing in _Intercom_ magazine later this year. You can find a preprint at:

<<What kind of review process does your organization use, for both online and print media?>>

Since my organization is "me and me alone", the review process is somewhat informal. <g> But the abovementioned article describes the review process I've developed and implemented elsewhere.

<<Is the review process for online help different from the review of print manuals? If yes, then what are the major differences between both.>>

As noted above, the fundamentals of the review process are identical. The processes diverge when it comes to evaluating specific features that differ between the two media. If you can come up with a good list of ways that online help differs from print, that will help you focus on steps that must be added to the review.

<<I tried to search STC and other similar organizations but failed to get some good information on the subject. Is it because I'm not a member and this kind of information is only for members?>>

If you were a member, I could tell you that. But since you're not... <g> STC does restrict some of its information to members, but I don't know whether they have information on the specific topic you're asking about. If they did, I suspect you could find it by contacting their Management, Quality, Single-sourcing, and Editing SIGs. These are the groups most likely to be involved in creating such information.

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Geoff Hart ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca
(try geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com if you don't get a reply)
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Standard Doc Review Cycle-Online/Print Help: From: Gurpreet Singh

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