Intellectual Exercise: How would you reduce your

Subject: Intellectual Exercise: How would you reduce your
From: Lisa Baker <LISAB -at- WORDPERFECT -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 23 Jan 1995 13:55:25 -0700

documentation by 80%? -Reply

This seems to be a popular cost-cutting notion now that the margins are getting
so
slim on software. The catch is the level of customer satisfaction.

Aside from reducing the typeface 80% or just throwing out a whole lot of
information
(neither of which would meet the customer satisfaction requirement), I don't
think
there any quick fixes.

Someone suggested producing video tapes and training classes, but while these
are
useful, if the software needs to be localized or if it is distributed several
thousand or
millions of customers in corporations and homes, these suggestions are more
costly
than the docs they are replacing.

The only real answer I see to cutting printed and online documentation is to
improve
the usability of the product to the same degree you are cutting the
documentation.
This might include writers working with programmers to create a self-documenting
interface--the dialog boxes are worded so that they explain themselves. But the
big
thing is to design usability from the beginning.

Personally, I think it's a great idea, but practically it'll take a few
development cycles
and a whole lot of restructuring to the corporate development process to
accomplish
it.
Good luck.
Lisa Baker lisab -at- wordperfect -dot- com
Master Technical Writer - WordPerfect, Novell Applications Group
; A child's face can say it all. ;
; Especially the mouth part of the face. ;


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