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As far as I am
concerned, it make no difference whether the documentation is online or
printed, if it is too long, it becomes self-defeating. I vote for
emphasizing the important things, and keeping the rest as simple as
I think this calls for a discussion on "minimalism" in both hardcopy and
online documentation. Does anyone have experiences in attempts at minimalist
documentation they wish to share?
I am especially interested in how effective this theory proves to be: that if
you provide just enough information to get users to strike out on their own
and "discover" how to use it, they will learn more effectively. My questions
1. Do they? or do they just figure out the basics, never learn the complex,
or learn how to do a complex thing in a round-about, time-wasting way and do it
_that_ way ever after, never having been told there is a built-in function, or
set of functions, for doing something?
2. Do users "resent" being forced to work harder at something--especially
when they are trying to use the software (or whatever, really) to get a job
done, quickly? Or do they (as I have read) feel "empowered", having "interacted
in a meaningful, challenging, fun way" with the computer...
3. How can minimalist documentation (online or hardcopy) deal with poorly
designed, non-intuitively functioning software? Can it?
You may tell from my questions that I am sceptical (somewhat), but would be
interested in real world tales.
Gwen (ggall -at- ca -dot- oracle -dot- com)
"The question is not the size of your intelligence,
but how you use the little amount of it you might have."