Digital delivery of documentation?

Subject: Digital delivery of documentation?
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: TECHWR-L Writing <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>, Anne Woolson <anne -dot- woolson -at- rimage -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 05 May 2009 16:22:32 -0400

Anne Woolson wondered: <<My company is wanting to go paperless - and
send all documentation on a CD with our hardware products. We
currently ship a large printed User Guide. >>

Just to play devil's advocate here: Has anyone considered asking the
customers what they want? Personally, I get really steamed when I
spend $500 on software and all I get is a teeny little getting started
guide. Or when I have to print a massive PDF file on my laser printer.
Would it kill them to throw in a $30 copy of X for Dummies in the
package? (Are you listening, Adobe?)

<<I've been told to "just throw the .pdf file onto a disc" - but it
seems like there has to be a better way to present the digital
document. Does anyone have any ideas or suggestions? >>

First and most obviously, make the availability of the PDF obvious.
Advertise its existence everywhere, and make sure it's one of the
first two items under the Help menu.

Second, take a giant step backwards and decide what your goal is: Are
you trying to produce something that will actually be used as an
onscreen document? If so, design it to be used that way (e.g., in
landscape format), and wave your hands in the air and make lots of
loud noises about how ecologically responsible your company is. If
you're just trying to shift the printing costs to the customer,
without compensating them for this by reducing the price, then by all
means produce a printable PDF and see if you can hire Nancy Allison to
convince your customers that this is a good thing. <g>

Geoff Hart (
ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca / geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com
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Digital delivery of documentation.: From: Anne Woolson

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