Re: Getting rid of the manual: get rid of the media next

Subject: Re: Getting rid of the manual: get rid of the media next
From: Gregory P Sweet <gps03 -at- health -dot- state -dot- ny -dot- us>
To: "David Loveless" <daveloveless -at- gmail -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 25 Jul 2006 15:25:04 -0400

1. Never done it, wouldn't want to see it happen. (see below)

2. None that I know of. But since you brought it up, and I am having a heck
of a time with a software vendor today, as a consumer of software products
I say boo!!
How much does your product cost? I may be old-school but I believe in a
direct proportion between the cost of a product and the number of pages of
manuals, post cards, stickers, squishy stress thingies, etc. I get with it.
Any end user-product over $100 I at least expect in a box with a book
(unrealistic in this day and age I know).

For example about 6 years ago I purchased Macromedia Authorware 5.5 +
Flash studio (~$8,000). It all came in a nice boxes with a lovely user
guides and a quick start guides and some clever marketing material
I upgrade a few years later and I still get nice boxes and manuals.

I upgrade again. What's this media is now an option, OK select to receive
media, pay an $25 per CD. Receive nice boxes, no manuals, where are my
manuals? On-line for a better dynamic experience. Documents will be
constantly updated and users will be able to make changes directly to the
docs themselves as we discover new and better ways to use the software.
Problems, the page were put up haphazardly with little quality control.
Changes uploaded to pages are never accepted, pages never updated and the
software had a typo in the help link sending users to instead
of, so clicking the help link didn't even bring you to the
help pages. Nice feature to have in a $8000 piece of software.

Upgrading again this year (flash studio only, ~$600) receive a proof of
purchase (no license keys) via e-mail. Where are my license keys? Contact
the account exec. forwards them along, media that's extra, assumed we
didn't want it and didn't include it on the quote, manuals, what's a

And while we're on the subject, Why the <expletive deleted> would I order
software and not want the software? How is it that as the price of
producing CDs has plummeted, it has become increasingly difficult to get a
software makers to actually send me a CD and not charge me extra for the

Sorry for the rant,

Gregory P. Sweet
Health Media Training Specialist

Bureau of HEALTHCOM Network Systems Management
New York State Department of Health

"David Loveless"
<daveloveless -at- gma> To
Sent by: "List,Techwriter"
techwr-l-bounces+ <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
gps03=health.stat cc
e -dot- ny -dot- us -at- lists -dot- tec Subject
Getting rid of the manual

07/25/2006 11:54


My company is moving away from a printed user manual. We are doing
this gradually to ease our customers into it. Our previous version had
500 pages of user documentation, our current has 150, and the next
will probably have nothing more than a quick start card or guide.

Instead of a manual, we are providing vastly updated and more complete
Help files. I've noticed that many products do this. Sadly, our
previous versions have given very little emphasis to the Help, and
there is a general feeling of incompetence when it comes to the older
files. The newer versions are better, but those feelings still linger.

My Questions:

First--Has anyone out there done this, and what problems did you
encounter? Our biggest concern is the customer reaction. They are very
used to getting a nice printed manual, and they don't really trust the
Help. Even though the Help files will contain all the information from
the manual, we worry that they will "miss the forest for the tree."
How do we sell the user on the idea?

Second--We are also having problems getting buyoff from some members
of management. The rest of management and support is on board. Is
there any evidence or studies out there that compare the value of a
manual to a help file?

Thanks for the help.



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Getting rid of the manual: From: David Loveless

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