Re: The dangerous myth of the "completely intuitive product"

Subject: Re: The dangerous myth of the "completely intuitive product"
From: Bonni Graham <Bonni_Graham_at_Enfin-SD -at- RELAY -dot- PROTEON -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 10 Jan 1994 14:44:00 EST

jong -at- TNPUBS -dot- ENET -dot- DEC -dot- COM notes:

<many good points about intuitiveness>
There -- I've gotten it off my chest. Does anyone agree? Or am I wrong, and
are there non-trivial intuitive programs out there?
End of quote

Well, yes and no. I agree that it's dangerous to "outmode" ourselves like
that. And yet, in a truly perfect world, things would be designed to be
intuitive. And yet, with a totally open ended product (use-wise) like a
computer (as opposed to a close-ended product like a TV, which only does one
thing at least right now -- receive electronic signals and display them
visually), you have to provide some guidance. And yet, I've worked on
products that don't really need doc.

For instance, my last contract job was for a grade-school student test
evaluation software package. Anyone familiar with both Windows and what/who
they were testing would almost never need to look at the doc (customizing
reports and warning notes aside) or the online help. I needed to ask the
programmer maybe three questions during the doc creation. The company
provided documentation mainly because most of their users were computer phobes
who wanted/needed handholding.

It also depends on what you want to call documentation -- is it restricted to
online help and books? A lot of manual pages could be removed if programs
used a good, well-written set of error codes -- ones that gave you some idea
of how to fix the problem... But are these codes doc or programming? In
other words is it doc if a writer writes it and it program is a coder codes
it? Or is it only doc if it is printed on paper or compiled into help files?
If that former is the case, it's going to be a long time before we are out of
a profession -- we'll just have to adapt/

Thoughts, netters?

Bonni Graham |
Technical Writer |
Easel Corporation, ENFIN Technology Lab | Never tell people how to
Bonni_Graham_at_Enfin-SD -at- relay -dot- proteon -dot- com | do things. Tell them
President, San Diego STC | what to do and they will
| surprise you with their
NOTE: apparently my email address needs | ingenuity.
to be typed exactly as it appears here, |
punctuation and all, or the system gets | --George Patton
upset. |

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