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: "Leonard C. Porrello" <Leonard -dot- Porrello -at- SoleraTec -dot- com>
To: "The Documentation Doctor" <documentationdoctor -at- googlemail -dot- com>, <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 17 Feb 2009 08:01:44 -0800

I don't have any studies to back you up, but my thinking is along the
same lines as yours. If people aren't using it, it probably needs to be
made more simple, not more complex. It would be interesting if you could
survey users to understand why they don't use the current docs.

Leonard

-----Original Message-----
From: techwr-l-bounces+leonard -dot- porrello=soleratec -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
[mailto:techwr-l-bounces+leonard -dot- porrello=soleratec -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- c
om] On Behalf Of The Documentation Doctor
Sent: Tuesday, February 17, 2009 1:59 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

Hi folks

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.

Cheers and much thanks in advance

Martin
http://www.documentationdoctor.com/
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solution. Author in Doc-To-Help's XML-based editor, Microsoft Word or
HTML and publish to the Web, Help systems or printed manuals.
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authors and teams. Professional power, intuitive interface. Write
once, publish to 8 formats. Multi-user authoring and version control! http://www.helpandmanual.com/

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Follow-Ups:

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

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