Re: Click X, or click the X button?

Subject: Re: Click X, or click the X button?
From: Janice Gelb <Janice -dot- Gelb -at- Sun -dot- COM>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Thu, 29 Oct 2009 07:21:05 +1100

Chris Despopoulos wrote:
> If you have the
> benefit of all this information, then why shouldn't you share that
> benefit with your customers? Isn't it necessary for you to know all
> this stuff (whether through formal channels or a self-inflicted A-Ha!
> moment) before you can fully understand the product? Why should your
> audience be any different?

Because your audience isn't trying to document the
product and most audiences don't care how it works
or why it works the way it does. Most studies show
that for end-user products, most people don't even
look at the documentation at first, they just try to
start using the product until they get stuck. When they
do get stuck, they try to find out how to get unstuck
from the online help or documentation. The user wants
to use the product, not necessarily to understand it.

Products that are used by people to produce other
products (for example, programming languages that
software developers use to write applications)
need to be thoroughly documented because the user
has to understand the underlying product in order
to understand how to use it. But most commercial
products do not fall under this category.

> My point is that good coverage doesn't come for
> free just because the docs are "task oriented".
> And I also maintain that things have changed
> considerably since the task-oriented mantra was
> taken up.

In what way? Online delivery of documentation means
that we don't have to worry as much about page count
any more but I don't think it means that end users
are any more interested in the inner workings of the
product than they were before.

-- Janice

Janice Gelb | The only connection Sun has with
janice -dot- gelb -at- sun -dot- com | this message is the return address


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RE: Click X, or click the X button?: From: Marguerite Krupp
Re: Click X, or click the X button?: From: Chris Despopoulos

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