Re: Mac vs PC users

Subject: Re: Mac vs PC users
From: Deborah Hemstreet <dvora -at- tech-challenged -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Tue, 06 Jul 2010 11:21:47 -0400

I once had a supervisor get angry with my writing. She complained that any idiot off the street could install our hi-tech medical systems because of my instructions. I thought that was good.

She made me take out a lot of "basic" stuff. Two years later the new Service and Support manager complained that my instructions were not complete enough. That he had "idiots" in the field... and they needed to be nursed through everything.

I suppose, and perhaps I'm wrong, but if I'm writing online Help and the procedure is about Saving a File,
To save a file
1. On the File menu... The save dialog box appears...
2. In the Save dialog box...

I SUPPOSE I could leave all that out. BUT assuming (bad word, my mom used to say ass=u+me=assume) that someone is looking up how to save a file, the instructions should be complete. I don't think I need to say it over and over... but IF this is HELP, then the information should be there for the beginner as well as for the advanced user.

My problem, is there is a lot of stuff that everyone keeps telling me, MAC users know how to use it. I ask, but what about people who are new to MAC. And I am told, "It is all so intuitive". Then why, if it is all so intuitive, am I translating 900 pages of a documentation to online HELP?

From my perspective, it is terribly confusing to have up to 4-key combinations for keyboard shortcuts, AND to have as many as three or four different ways to do the same thing.

I am writing so many instructions about those FOUR methods it's driving me nuts! As a user, I get confused when there are too many ways to do the same thing. I asked what the preferred method was, and answer: "Everyone is different, we know x is not done much, but someone might complain if we take it out, and we put y in because someone else complained, and of course we have to have Z because that is the MAC way of doing it..."

I will survive... I know its Tuesday but feels like Monday!

Thanks!

Deborah

On 07/06/2010 11:06 AM, Tim Murray wrote:

Are there any studies out there that anyone knows of that compare how MAC users interact with computers compared to PC users?

Are MAC users quicker learners?

I"m writing some Help for a MAC application, and a lot of the feedback I get is, EVERYONE knows this - you don't have to explain it (such as what happens when I click File> Save, or what an Action button is, etc.
The issues are the same, it's just that the actions to perform a task seem to be easier to grasp on a Mac than in Windows. (And it's Mac, not MAC. Mac is an abbreviation, not an acronym or initialism.)

In other words, if someone doesn't know anything about the concept of saving files, then they'll need more information. But unless you're writing about their very first app, I'd say just "save the file."
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Follow-Ups:

References:
Mac vs PC users: From: Deborah Hemstreet
Re: Mac vs PC users: From: Tim Murray

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