Re: Redefining Instructions (was "Sam Clemens is dead")

Subject: Re: Redefining Instructions (was "Sam Clemens is dead")
From: "Bonni J. Graham" <bgraham -at- ELECTRICITI -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 4 Oct 1994 17:13:55 PST

Doug makes a very good point when he says,
" Perhaps instead of arguing whether paper or online would be
better, you-all could discuss which parts of the documentation
would be better suited online, and which in paper manuals."

This is exactly what I recommend to my clients and is exactly how I write
my manuals. In fact, I'm in the process of writing a paper/workshop that I
hope to present at next year's Writer in the Workplace and Region 8
conferences about this very topic. The gist of it that users are asking
one of four questions when they go to documentation (drawn from an
excellent article by Abigail Sellen and Anne Nicol in "The Art of
Human-Computer Interface Design", ed. by Brenda Laurel and published by
Addison-Wesley in 1990):

1. What is it?
2. How do I do it?
3. Why do I want to do it?
4. Why did it do THAT?

My solution is to put 1 and 4 online, whether via status line info, help
topics, "error" messages, or some combination of the above. 2 can also go
online, but never in more detail than can be presented on one help screen
of Windows default size on a VGA 640x480 14" monitor (that being my
arbitrarily assigned standard, based on experience and observation).

Extended 2 and 3 go on paper, where I can be as linear as I want ("why" is
often a very linear discussion) and take up as much eye real estate w/o
worrying about tiring the person reading.

This system has received excellent feedback from customers -- they find
whay they want, approximately where they want it, and I always include
plenty of cross references between the two.

Anyway, it works for me and mine.

Bonni Graham
Manual Labour
Director, Region 8 Conference
bgraham -at- electriciti -dot- com

Previous by Author: Re: Goofing off on the job?
Next by Author: The 1994 STC Region 8 Conference
Previous by Thread: Redefining Instructions (was "Sam Clemens is dead")
Next by Thread: Re: Redefining Instructions (was "Sam Clemens is dead")

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads