Re: Doc Design and Convention ( was TECHWR-L Digest, Vol 48, Issue 27)

Subject: Re: Doc Design and Convention ( was TECHWR-L Digest, Vol 48, Issue 27)
From: Robert Lauriston <robert -at- lauriston -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Wed, 4 Nov 2009 11:01:19 -0800

I didn't say anything of the sort. Marketing hype doesn't belong in
technical documentation. I never use any marketing language except
sometimes in the first few paragraphs of a user's guide and release
notes, and even there I tone it down and cut anything that's not
supported by the facts.

Documentation that reflects the specific business requirements of
prospective customers and a contextual understanding of how, by whom,
and for what purposes the product is used is a helpful tool for anyone
evaluating the product, especially when installation is a long and
complex process (as is usually the case for client-server and
Web-based applications, especially those that require a third-party
database such as Oracle or SQL Server). It helps the prospective buyer
understand whether the product would meet their needs.

I know that's true from the buyer's side as well. If it's too much
trouble to install a product and I can't tell from the docs whether it
will do the specific things I need it do, I'll move on to the next
candidate.

On Wed, Nov 4, 2009 at 10:48 AM, Gene Kim-Eng <techwr -at- genek -dot- com> wrote:
> If a company provides me with a document set as part of its presale
> presentation, one of the things i look for is an indication that they know where
> to put different kinds of information.  User manuals that read like advertising
> brochures for a company's other products - or worse, like advertising brochures
> for the very product the reader has (presumably) already purchased - do not tend
> to make me want to buy a company's products.  They just irritate me.
>
> Gene Kim-Eng
>
>
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Robert Lauriston" <robert -at- lauriston -dot- com>
>> By focusing narrowly on technical concerns you're excluding the
>> specific business contexts in which the tool will be used and thus
>> perhaps industry-specific warnings and tips that could be helpful to
>> users.
>>
>> Whether that matters probably depends on how varied the product's uses
>> are in practice.
>>
>> Also, a good technical writer should think like a marketer to the
>> extent that the docs may be used as presales tools.
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Follow-Ups:

References:
Re: Doc Design and Convention ( was TECHWR-L Digest, Vol 48, Issue 27): From: Janice Gelb
Re: Doc Design and Convention ( was TECHWR-L Digest, Vol 48, Issue 27): From: Keith Hood
Re: Doc Design and Convention ( was TECHWR-L Digest, Vol 48, Issue 27): From: Robert Lauriston
Re: Doc Design and Convention ( was TECHWR-L Digest, Vol 48, Issue 27): From: Gene Kim-Eng

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