Re: "INSTRUCTIONS NOT INCLUDED"

Subject: Re: "INSTRUCTIONS NOT INCLUDED"
From: John Allred <john2 -at- allrednet -dot- com>
To: Kaylin Boehme <kaylinboehme -at- quadax -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 14 Jan 2015 10:12:54 -0600

"The iPhone may come with brief instructions, but there are a bunch of iPhone "manuals" (third-party books) on Amazon.com. Plus, as you mentioned, there are tons of videos on YouTube. Whatever your learning style, there are plenty of resources available, even if they are no longer provided by the manufacturer."

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I wish you were right, Kaylin. However, I see the same problems with documentation that have always existed. Manufacturers either have documentation groups, or they contract out to smaller companies, who don't understand--or care for-- the very function they are performing. "Good enough" really is not, particularly for complex devices that accomplish their numerous functions through deep and non-intuitive menu structures.

I bought a new radio for my car a couple of weeks ago. Came with a printed manual in the obligatory four languages. The company's online documentation is merely a PDF of the printed manual. There are no YouTube videos and no user-written help docs on the web to explain how to manually enter FM stations in the three tiers of presets, for a total of 18. The manual tells you that you can fill the presets manually, and it tells you how to fill them with an auto search routine, but it does not actually tell you how to fill them manually nor, for that matter, how to access positions 7-18, once they've been filled.

When I wrote manuals, I sought answers to questions like these, because I knew some users would want--or need-- to know. Someone mentioned how they read manuals, cover-to-cover back in the 90s. I did, too, and became my employers' expert as a result. I know we all understand that precious few people ever did this, or ever would. But, the point is, the detailed information was present in many of the manuals from that time. My Microsoft Office and Ventura Publisher boxes weighed 6-8 pounds, each, included multiple bound volumes, and took up from six to ten inches of shelf space. I get that documentation in those days was incredibly expensive both to produce and ship.

I don't find that same level of inquisitiveness present in anything written nowadays. Maybe the budget for documentation has been so severely reduced that curiosity is simply too costly. The problem may also lie in the "simple interface" concept. To me, "simple" means "obscured." Devices are no less complex than they used to be. People may be less curious, though.

John Allred

> On Jan 14, 2015, at 7:44 AM, Kaylin Boehme <kaylinboehme -at- quadax -dot- com> wrote:
>
> Seems to me that as the need for printed/upfront documentation fades away thanks to advances in UXD, the importance of "official documentation" will be in helping the consumer with those advanced features that you don't find on the surface.
...
>
> As for Rick's comment on image-based society, I will grudgingly refrain from comment because I could talk about that all day!
>
> - Kaylin
>
>
> -----Original Message-----
>
> http://www.popsci.com/instructions-not-included
>
> Thoughts?
>
> Cordially,
>
> Craig Cardimon | Senior Technical Writer Marketing Systems Group
>
> ------------------------------
>
>
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Doc-To-Help: The Quickest Way to Author and Publish Online Help, Policy & Procedure Guides, eBooks, and more using Microsoft Word | http://bit.ly/doctohelp2015

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