Re: Cost Savings and Online Help

Subject: Re: Cost Savings and Online Help
From: Connie Winch <conwin -at- BBS -dot- BKB -dot- SYMIX -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 21 Oct 1994 16:00:15 EDT

Eric Shaffer writes:

> Help, Documenation, and training are hardly good investments.
> They are despiration measures (old saying... "the documentation is
> nothing but a compilation of the failures of the interface designer).

> However, there are situations where it does make sense. Jack
> Tananbaum wrote a great Bell Technical Memo on "Means to Achive
> Performance Tradeoff". He identified critiera for when doucmentation,
> training, OR performance aides (e.g. help) were acutally useful.
> Great work, we use it regularly.

"Hardly good investments"??? "Compilation of the failures of the interface

As a technical writer, I take offense at both statements (and I'm sure many of
the designers I know would at that last bit, too.) I agree that documentation
can be not very useful, but it depends primarily on how well it's tailored to
the intended audience. Documentation that is tailored well to its audience and
generally written well can be a value-adding entity. (For support for that last
statement, you can e-mail me, and I'd be happy to share with you research
sponsored by STC on that very subject.) You get to know your audience well -
what do they need from a manual or other documents; you craft your documents to
serve their purposes; you'll produce documents that can add to customer
productivity and satisfaction.

If I didn't believe that, I wouldn't be in this profession.

| Connie Winch |
| Associate Technical Writer |
|Symix Computer Systems, Inc.|
| conwin -at- symix -dot- com |

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