Re: Getting rid of the manual

Subject: Re: Getting rid of the manual
From: John Garison <john -at- garisons -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 26 Jul 2006 08:20:03 -0400

OK, time for my 2¢ ...

You're thinking about this the wrong way. Don't think in terms of paper v. online. Think of it from the users' point of view. The real question is "How do I provide the information the user needs when and where it's needed so that getting it isn't a distraction?"

The real answer to this is to make the information part of the application.

Put more effort into usability design. Put more effort into knowing who your users are and how they use your applications. Put information on the screen. Provide information as part of the forms they have to fill out. Provide hints. Show examples. Make it all part of the application.

The down side: It takes us out of what we feel comfortable with. It forces us to work in conjunction with the developers. It's expensive.

Counter argument: Taking us out of what we're comfortable with is a good thing. Working with the developers is a good thing - in fact, once they see what all we do, they'll be less likely to make changes without consulting with us first. And it really isn't that much more expensive. It's just different.

You may still need some sort of introduction/overview/getting started guide. OK, write one up that's short and gets people up and running and in front of the application. Do it in PDF and let them print it out if needed. Show them the support that's designed into the application. Then get out of their way and let them do their jobs.

John G


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Re: Getting rid of the manual: From: Mike Starr

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