Re: Task oriented manuals

Subject: Re: Task oriented manuals
From: WandaJane Phillips <wandajp -at- ANDYNE -dot- ON -dot- CA>
Date: Mon, 27 Jun 1994 17:11:35 GMT

When I designed a large *task oriented* set of manuals, I first
surveyed users to determine some *tasks* and then I began. . . I
outlined a single manual and contacted a number of users from the
survey, they reviewed the outline and made some suggestions, our
trainers made some suggestions, and I revised. I drafted a single
chapter (based on a task) for the revision and repeated the survey
(using the draft and a ToC). More feedback and revisions, finally a

In the end, this particular audience, got a series of books:

the end user book had task oriented chapters organized by processor -
followed by a reference chapter for the processor
each chapter had a *getting started* section that explained what the
user needed to accomplish the task, followed by a brief overview of the
task (which included telling them the expected outcome) - 2 pages max.
before the steps - at the end was a single page map (visual
representation of the steps)

the manager's book was more complex with entire theory chapters
preceeding the task oriented chapters.

and so on.

but this design arose out of close encounters with users and an
iterative design strategy. I thank my former employer for the
opportunity, I haven't experienced the same willingness since leaving.


my dog is old, my cat wants out, and the bills are hidden in the top
drawer... there is nothing to steal

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