Re: indexing software manuals

Subject: Re: indexing software manuals
From: "Focus on 3 things: Quality, Quality, Quality" <raven -at- USABLE -dot- ENET -dot- DEC -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 6 Apr 1993 13:36:29 EDT

Michael Steehouder:
You ask if there are any methods to test the usability of an
index. I'd like to suggest a method that tests the index as PART of
the test (it also tests the Table of Contents, headings, and other
aspects of the book).

The method is called a read/locate (or read-and-locate) test,
whereby you make up some typical questions that a user would want to
answer. Ask some representative users to read the questions and locate
the answers to those questions in your documentation. (I've found that
people ususally go to the index first; you can ask them to write down
phrases that they look for that they don't find.)

The method is described in more detail in:
"Quick Usability Tests for Documentation: Read/locate and Summary
Tests" by Mary Elizabeth Raven in the Conference Record of the 1992 IEEE
International Professional Communication Conference, Sante FE, New
Mexico, September 29-Oct.3, 1992. pp. 254-257. IEEE Catalog number 92CH3200-3

Best of luck,
Mary Beth Raven
Digital Equipment Corp.
Nashua NH

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