Re: documentation going away

Subject: Re: documentation going away
From: Connie Giordano <connie -at- therightwords -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Mon, 16 Jan 2012 10:22:31 -0500

I didn't want to know my new Android phone comprehensively, I just wanted
to know the basics of how to answer using touch rather than old fashioned
buttons. The sales people were all about telling me how to use the camera,
I just wanted to know how to answer the phone and reply to emails. I
looked online, couldn't even find a user guide for the model I bought. I
don't need a paper manual, but for goodness sake, please don't assume your
smart phone is that intuitive to use-because I'm proof it isn't so.

Community forums? I don't have time to wade through the tons of mis-titled
threads trying find a simple answer.

It's kind of presumptious to say "most users don't want that" since it
totally depends on the product, the company's support strategy and the
experience level of the user. Perhaps most companies think (or hope) most
users want that since it's probably a lot cheaper up front, but I haven't
found any kind of consumer research that says users are satisfied with such
an approach. Can you provide some data to back up your statement?


Connie

On Mon, Jan 16, 2012 at 9:53 AM, Phil Snow Leopard <
philstokes03 -at- googlemail -dot- com> wrote:

> I agree in the sense that if you want to know a product comprehensively,
> you can't beat a good manual. However, most users don't want that, they
> only want what was in the past tacked on in a page or three (if lucky) at
> the end labelled 'Troubleshooting'. Inch-thick manuals are really for those
> of us who provide help on online community forums, rather than for the
> majority of those who seek it, IMHO.
>
> Phil
>
>
> On 16 Jan 2012, at 21:46, John Allred wrote:
>
> > The rationale for shifting support to user communities is obvious, from
> a cost perspective. But, from a user perspective, I question whether we
> should acquiesce in this trend to offload responsibility for support.
> Whether printed, or in a PDF or eBook format, company-written documentation
> has the benefit of being organized and authentic. Forums are not. Google is
> not. Searching for help on specific issues can be like searching for the
> proverbial needle in the haystack. I used to have a one-inch-thick Excel
> manual on my desk that laid it out from A to Z. Besides being organized, it
> was also thorough. Now, I lose lots of time searching for help on Excel
> functions.
> >
> > I think we've lost something extremely valuable.
> >
> > John
> >
> > On 1/16/2012 8:16 AM, Phil Snow Leopard wrote:
> >>
> >> I think the answers are in your post.
> >>
> >> 1. Cost.
> >>
> >> 2. The internet, and more specifically, community forums that provide
> free technical help and establish a user community around the product. This
> provides several benefits:
> >> — a free marketing tool that has greater credibility than in-house
> marketing because enthusiasm comes from customers, not the company
> >> — a huge database of customer information and feedback usefule for
> >> : market analysis
> >> : product development
> >> : customer feedback
> >>
> >> To be honest, when you look at the huge pay-offs of internet-based help
> and the minimal cost, it remains a mystery why so many companies still
> produce paper documentation. The only rationale I can think of is for
> products where the user base or the product use is not conveniently related
> to online activity (like installing a shower, say) and/or the product is
> complex and safety critical (airplanes spring to mind, though there are of
> course many other more mundane examples).
> >>
> >>
> >> Phil
> >>
> >> Tech Writer:
> >> http://applehelpwriter.com
> >>
> >>
> >> Critical Thinking& Philosophy:
> >> http://essentialthinking.wordpress.com/
> >> ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
> >>
>
>
> Tech Writer:
> http://applehelpwriter.com
>
>
>
> Critical Thinking & Philosophy:
> http://essentialthinking.wordpress.com/
>
>
>
>
> ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
>
> Create and publish documentation through multiple channels with
> Doc-To-Help.
> Choose your authoring formats and get any output you may need. Try
> Doc-To-Help, now with MS SharePoint integration, free for 30-days.
> http://www.doctohelp.com
>
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>



--
Connie P. Giordano
Principal Consultant
The Right Words of NC, LLC

"It's kind of fun to do the impossible" - Walt Disney
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Create and publish documentation through multiple channels with Doc-To-Help.
Choose your authoring formats and get any output you may need. Try
Doc-To-Help, now with MS SharePoint integration, free for 30-days.
http://www.doctohelp.com

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Follow-Ups:

References:
Re: documentation going away: From: Phil Snow Leopard
Re: documentation going away: From: John Allred
Re: documentation going away: From: Phil Snow Leopard

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