Re: RTFM? Really?

Subject: Re: RTFM? Really?
From: Hannah Drake <hannah -at- formulatrix -dot- com>
To: Gene Kim-Eng <techwr -at- genek -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 26 Sep 2014 12:47:02 -0400

Great question. So, we started with the typical help file, and added quick
start guides, and printer user manuals. We did powerpoint "getting started"
presentations to help the customer learn a product. We've done video
tutorials, and video feature overviews.

Some people are visual learners, and LOVE videos. Some people (like myself)
would rather have text to refer to and go step-by-step. Some people request
that, but when it comes down to it don't want to spend the time searching a
help file for the answer, primarily because they're used to helpfiles being
less than helpful.

We tried a forum. I think because of the nature of our customers and what
they work on, most of them can't go public. We have a suggestion forum
open, but it has a low interaction rate.

But we're specialized enough that we *can* have the product managers,
support techs, and engineers talk to customers if something requires that
level of care.

At the end of the day, I just think that my audience is so busy, they just
want the answer yesterday, so they don't love the idea of watching a video
or reading a help file. We even built an in-software tutorial that helps
you create things, and we got some feedback that they don't want to have to
do that, they just want it to be easy to use.

But at some point, the software is complicated and powerful enough that you
simply aren't going to be able to make simple, clean UIs with cute little
text telling the user what to do all the time. Think Photoshop. Super
powerful, and you can't really walk up and use it.





On Fri, Sep 26, 2014 at 12:34 PM, Gene Kim-Eng <techwr -at- genek -dot- com> wrote:

> I would never "insist" on writing a manual, or anything else for that
> matter. I just seek out opportunities where everyone involved already
> understands their need for whatever they're asking me whether I can do. If
> I'm going to have to convince management that they need to fund
> documentation or convince users they need to use it, I'll probably just
> pass on the job. I'm done being an evangelist for common sense.
>
> Now, from a non-writer, big-picture business approach...
>
> A lot of companies, especially in the software business, find themselves
> between a rock and a hard place when it comes to support. Consumers insist
> on buying the cheapest products they can find, then expect high end support
> for them. Well, TAANSTAFL. Either you pay for high end support, or you buy
> cheap and have to look for the answers to your questions on your own.
>
> For companies not in that unenviable position, there are other options.
> HW/SW systems can be designed to walk the user through (think about your
> bank's ATM machine, for example), and complex, potentially hazardous
> systems often cannot legally be turned on in the first place without the
> operators being trained and certified.
>
> As for video tutorials and user support groups, if lazy users won't RTFM,
> what makes you think they're going to view the videos or read the user
> forums...?
>
> Gene Kim-Eng
>
>
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Follow-Ups:

References:
RTFM? Really?: From: Karl Norman
Re: RTFM? Really?: From: Gene Kim-Eng

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