"Using this Book"

Subject: "Using this Book"
From: Mike Christie <mikec -at- SYNTEL -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 31 Mar 1994 09:00:28 PST

A couple of years ago I was at a company that developed
and marketed a shrink-wrapped personal accounting package.
We converted from the old-fashioned, early-80's,
one-menu-per-screen user interface to the DOS CUA standard.
I spent a lot of time and effort very carefully documenting how
to get around the system with the new interface (we had a lot
of customers we _knew_ were going to be resistant to the change)
and we included the chapter _both_ in the upgrade booklet _and_
in the complete user guide.

Did anyone read it? Based on my experience handling customer suport
calls (it was a _very_ small company), almost no one.

Bottom line: The software has got to be as self-explanatory as possible
(as was discussed at length here some months ago), and the manual has
got to be organized so the user can immediately fi_immediately_ find a specific
when s/he goes to look for it.

(But try doing that with the enterprise software I am documeting these days!)

Mike Christie
Technical Writer
Syntelligence Systems, Inc.
mikec -at- syntel -dot- com

PS: Apologies for all the italics. I'm just feeling very _emphatic_ today.

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