RE: Quick Start Guide

Subject: RE: Quick Start Guide
From: mlist -at- safenet-inc -dot- com
To: tig -dot- techwriter -at- gmail -dot- com, techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Thu, 30 Nov 2006 09:27:26 -0500

Deborah McNally [mailto:tig -dot- techwriter -at- gmail -dot- com]

> Normally I write online help and printed manuals. I've been asked for
> a 'Quick Start Guide' for one of our products. Does anyone have a
> suggestion of where to start? I don't want to put *too much* into it,
> but I want to make sure that I hit all of the points that should be in
> a quick start. Even a template would be helpful.

In a previous century, I used to do multiple 200 and 400-page
manuals for each product, and some bright soul wanted a
Quick Start Guide, to ease the pain for some lucky customer
wanting basic, generic setup, just to get ... well... started.


I put together a thingie about ten pages long (hey, don't
blame me; setup was fairly complex and had lots of options,
almost none of which were "standard").

It went for review.

By the time I'd put in everybody's recommendations, the
QuickStart Guide was 41 pages long. Oi.

A few years ago, we migrated most of the docs to WebHelp,
and I took it upon myself to get rid of the wordy QSG
and turn it into a one-sheet, mostly pictorial thing,
much like you get with an HP printer (or did, the last
time I bought an inkjet).

Somebody suggested that I merge that with our Common Criteria
checklist and a pictorial "packing list". It grew to about
six or seven pages, mostly pictures. The last instruction
says to insert the CD, click the START_HERE.html file and
click the link for instructions to Install/setup on your operating system.

Our product is hardware and software, so the QSG instructions
are almost entirely the physical unwrap it, mount it (in a
19-inch rack), connect this cable here, connect that cable
there, press this button.... stand back... sort of instruction
that work as pictures with little pointing hands.

Nobody ever reads it beyond flipping through the pages to
see if there's anything they need to read. The instructions
that people might really need are in the Help.

Well, I lied. One of our big customers read my QSG, asked if they
could have it, and re-branded for distribution to their
end-customers (who will not read it). :-)
But at least it's there to comfort the CC auditors.


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