RE: Studies relating to documentation density and getting the user to read the manuals

Subject: RE: Studies relating to documentation density and getting the user to read the manuals
From: "Dan Goldstein" <DGoldstein -at- riverainmedical -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 17 Feb 2009 09:30:56 -0500

Dear Doc Doc,

Does the client already know that the users "skim, skip steps, and get
into a mess"? I think that's the best support for your position.

Corollary 1: Even if you improve the documentation by cutting out the
excess, there's no guarantee that the users will read it.

Corollary 2: Even if the users are incorrigible, it's worth it to
improve the documentation.

Happy Tuesday,

Dan

> -----Original Message-----
> From: The Documentation Doctor
> Sent: Tuesday, February 17, 2009 4:59 AM
> To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
> Subject: Studies relating to documentation density and
> getting the user to read the manuals
>
> I'm hoping I can tap your collective wisdom.
>
> A client has the common problem that users don't read the
> installation manuals.
>
> Historically, the response has been to beef up the
> installation manuals with big warning boxes highlighting the
> importance of particular steps; so much so that the warnings
> duplicate about 30% of the procedure. In addition, to make
> the manuals more friendly, each and every dialogue box and
> message is documented and illustrated. Even so, users still
> tend to skim, skip steps and get into a mess.
>
> My contention is that users are more likely to read
> documentation that is terse and does not contain redundant
> information, and that a single "Follow the steps or suffer
> the consequences" warning will suffice.
>
> So, what I'd be grateful for would be links to any studies
> that I could cite in order to support (or invalidate!) my position.
>

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References:
Studies relating to documentation density and getting the user to read the manuals: From: The Documentation Doctor

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