Levels of detail -- are we beyond this? (take II)

Subject: Levels of detail -- are we beyond this? (take II)
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: TECHWR-L' Whirlers <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>, Evelyn Lee Barney <evbarney -at- comcast -dot- net>
Date: Fri, 15 Aug 2008 17:12:45 -0400

Evelyn Lee Barney raised a really good point: <<That said, I don't
think we can ever really know (depending, maybe, on our audience)
what is a common-knowledge detail to them, and what is not. My
personal frustration with software documentation for aps that are new
to me is when they say something like: "If you'd like to perform X
function, just use the Y-enator while holding down cntr." No screen
shot, no tip as to where to find the Y-enator, let alone what it's
primary function is (and you'd assume it has a primary function that
isn't X, since it's a Y-enator, not an X-enator.)>>

Did anyone say "Adobe"? <g> I'm hardly what you'd call naive about
computers, and I use some parts of Creative Suite heavily and other
parts erratically, but I often run into precisely this kind of
instruction, and have to dig deeper into the online help (sometimes a
really deep dig) to find out just what the heck they're talking
about, by which time I've half-forgotten the original question that
sent me to the documentation.

So even for "experts", it pays to remember that we shouldn't assume
the audience knows as much as we do. And to remember that even
experts have blind spots (e.g., parts of the software we simply never
use). Given that the vast majority of our audience falls into the
category of "experts only in 20% of the software" or "used to be an
expert but have since forgotten", we need to always remember to
provide what readers need to succeed.

How do we know what that is? It's awfully tough to make that call.

-- Geoff Hart
ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca / geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com
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levels of detail -- are we beyond this?: From: Tom Johnson
RE: levels of detail -- are we beyond this?: From: Butler, Darren J CTR USAF AFMC 584 CBSS/GBHAC
Re: levels of detail -- are we beyond this?: From: Evelyn Lee Barney

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