RE: Book: What makes a great user manual?

Subject: RE: Book: What makes a great user manual?
From: Slager Timothy J <Timothy -dot- Slager -at- dematic -dot- com>
To: "salt -dot- morton -at- gmail -dot- com" <salt -dot- morton -at- gmail -dot- com>, "techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 16 Jan 2017 16:37:25 +0000

If "they obviously work for many" that makes (some of) them pretty good. I suppose the question is whether there is a standard that bumps the "work for many" into the "works for most" category. ("Works for all" is one of those typically unachievable goals worth striving for.)

I liked the advice in the Forbes article to contact the manufacturer and complain. But complaints too can lead to poor design--unless there are enough of them to confirm that something is actually insufficient, wrong, or confusing. So often one person's good is another person's bad. Making a change based on a few complaints may cause that typical problem, in software terms, of adding a bug while removing another. On the other hand, failing to include how to add string to a trimmer seems like a gross oversight.

I'm interested too in knowing what are the essentials of a good manual. I suspect it is a compromise at best. If it includes what some really like, it should do so in a way that isn't too off-putting to those who dislike that sort of thing. If it has to include lots of warnings, it should make it easy to find the other information. If it has too many pictures, they should be good ones. If it has too many words, they should be clear.

I'm afraid that if I finally figured out exactly what makes a good manual, by the next year the recipe would no longer apply. So the quest continues--as it should.

tims

-----Original Message-----
From: techwr-l-bounces+timothy -dot- slager=dematic -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com [mailto:techwr-l-bounces+timothy -dot- slager=dematic -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com] On Behalf Of Chris Morton
Sent: Monday, January 16, 2017 11:06 AM
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Subject: Re: Book: What makes a great user manual?

Thanks, Tim, but my question isn't about *Dummies* books. They obviously work for many and that's great. I was turned off by a volume on TCP/IP I bought years ago.

I do a fair amount of writing. Outside of the technical realm, much of what I write includes humor here and there, as witnessed on this and other forums in which I participate. So I enjoy a good bit of humor. But while growing up, I never found The Three Stooges, Green Acres or Gomer Pyle to be funny enough to keep me engaged. For me, that level of thunk-over-the-head humor doesn't cut it.

So... back to the original question....

Chris Morton



â Substantive Editing â Technical Writing â Proofreading
â Marketing Expertise â Mentoring Click to <http://t.sidekickopen68.com/e1t/c/5/f18dQhb0S7lC8dDMPbW2n0x6l2B9nMJN7t5XYgdnqQxW7fsH3H4XrddKW1pNgV-56dMhqf2Q-c6C02?t=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.linkedin.com%2Fpub%2Fchris-morton%2F2%2F166%2F6ba&si=6020636811198464&pi=fa4629a9-bd82-48f9-f5b3-6b9bd993b242>


On Mon, Jan 16, 2017 at 10:48 AM, Slager Timothy J < Timothy -dot- Slager -at- dematic -dot- com> wrote:

> I've used a few Dummies books. One I thought was amazingly well done,
> and another was pretty bad. Both of these were on programming, which I
> knew next to nothing about.
>
> tims
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: techwr-l-bounces+timothy -dot- slager=dematic -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
> [mailto:techwr-l-bounces+timothy -dot- slager=dematic -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
> ]
> On Behalf Of Chris Morton
> Sent: Monday, January 16, 2017 10:40 AM
> To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
> Subject: Re: Book: What makes a great user manual?
>
> I can't stand *Dummies* books, Craig. Usually the humor is at the Adam
> Sandler/Mr. Bean level. Not my cuppa.
>
> Chris Morton
>
>
>
> â Substantive Editing â Technical Writing â Proofreading
> â Marketing Expertise â Mentoring Click to <
> http://t.sidekickopen68.com/e1t/c/5/f18dQhb0S7lC8dDMPbW2n0x6l2B9nM
> JN7t5XYgdnqQxW7fsH3H4XrddKW1pNgV-56dMhqf2Q-c6C02?t=https%3A%
> 2F%2Fwww.linkedin.com%2Fpub%2Fchris-morton%2F2%2F166%
> 2F6ba&si=6020636811198464&pi=96a12667-7627-44fb-9750-a7bfe0e453e7>
>
>
> On Mon, Jan 16, 2017 at 10:38 AM, Cardimon, Craig
> <ccardimon -at- m-s-g -dot- com>
> wrote:
>
> > I always liked the Dummies books as launching pads. Great just to
> > get you started.
> >
> > Anyone else use Dummies as starting points?
> >
> > ~Craig
> >
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: techwr-l-bounces+ccardimon=m-s-g -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com [mailto:
> > techwr-l-bounces+ccardimon=m-s-g -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com] On Behalf
> > techwr-l-bounces+Of
> > Chris Morton
> > Sent: Monday, January 16, 2017 10:35 AM
> > To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
> > Subject: Re: Book: What makes a great user manual?
> >
> > Specifically I'm interested in a somewhat breezy book (but not like
> > *Dummies*) that clearly explains the problems the problems that can
> > ensue with a manual that is poorly written/laid out.
> >
> > Chris Morton
> >
> >
> >
> > â Substantive Editing â Technical Writing â Proofreading
> > â Marketing Expertise â Mentoring Click to <
> > http://t.sidekickopen68.com/e1t/c/5/f18dQhb0S7lC8dDMPbW2n0x6l2B9nM
> > JN7t5XYgdnqQxW7fsH3H4XrddKW1pNgV-56dMhqf2Q-c6C02?t=https%3A%
> > 2F%2Fwww.linkedin.com%2Fpub%2Fchris-morton%2F2%2F166%
> > 2F6ba&si=6020636811198464&pi=7db9504b-239d-4442-cc97-f40fe7da56e4>
> >
> >
> > On Mon, Jan 16, 2017 at 10:13 AM, Chris Morton
> > <salt -dot- morton -at- gmail -dot- com>
> > wrote:
> >
> > > Considering the following (as well as usability works by Steve
> > > Krug), I'm wondering if there is a similar volume that takes a
> > > good look at user manuals. Your recommendations welcome, although
> > > each should be easy read in keeping with what Redish and Krug are
> > > conveying. (I have a low tolerance for high-brow studies written
> > > by
> > > PhDs.)
> > >
> > > *Letting Go of the Words: Writing Web Content that Works* by Ginny
> > > Redish
> > >
> > > "Web site design and development continues to become more
> sophisticated.
> > > An important part of this maturity originates with well-laid-out
> > > and well-written content. Ginny Redish is a world-renowned expert
> > > on information design and how to produce clear writing in plain
> > > language for the web. All of the invaluable information that she
> > > shared in the first edition is included with numerous new examples.
> > > New information on content strategy for web sites, search engine
> > > optimization (SEO), and social media make this once again the only
> > > book you need to own to optimize your writing for the web."
> > >
> > > Thanks
> > >
> > > Chris Morton
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > â Substantive Editing â Technical Writing â Proofreading
> > > â Marketing Expertise â Mentoring Click to
> > >
> > > <http://t.sidekickopen68.com/e1t/c/5/f18dQhb0S7lC8dDMPbW2n0x6l2B9n
> > > MJ
> > > N7
> > > t5XYgdnqQxW7fsH3H4XrddKW1pNgV-56dMhqf2Q-c6C02?t=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.
> > > li
> > > nk
> > > edin.com%2Fpub%2Fchris-morton%2F2%2F166%2F6ba&si=6020636811198464&
> > > pi
> > > =2
> > > 0d48203-2891-4cb8-fd95-abe81b7e7276>
> > >
> > >
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Follow-Ups:

References:
Book: What makes a great user manual?: From: Chris Morton
Re: Book: What makes a great user manual?: From: Chris Morton
RE: Book: What makes a great user manual?: From: Cardimon, Craig
Re: Book: What makes a great user manual?: From: Chris Morton
RE: Book: What makes a great user manual?: From: Slager Timothy J
Re: Book: What makes a great user manual?: From: Chris Morton

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