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: Susan W Gallagher <susanwg -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: The Documentation Doctor <documentationdoctor -at- googlemail -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 18 Feb 2009 10:37:59 -0800

If the installation procedure for the software needs a manual, your client
has more problems than just the manual. <g> I'd guess that 90% of users
would stick the CD in the drive and click GO with nary a thought to opening
the installation guide. I probably would myself.

Practically speaking, your client has two choices. They can simplify the
installation routine to suit the behavior of the target audience, or they
can provide embedded assistance in the installation routine so that
instructions for complicated steps appear on screen at the time they're
needed and no manual is required.

Sorry, no link to research; just my two cents.
-Sue Gallagher

On Tue, Feb 17, 2009 at 1:59 AM, The Documentation Doctor <
documentationdoctor -at- googlemail -dot- com> wrote:

> 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

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

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