Re: Documents and on-line help

Subject: Re: Documents and on-line help
From: "William J. Hartzer" <William -dot- Hartzer -at- EMC2-TAO -dot- FISC -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 10 Feb 1995 09:40:00 EST

Marguerite said: "Why NOT put the graphics in the help?"

As technical writers (in the computer software industry), I see our goal as
trying to make it as easy for the user to get the information they need as
quickly and painlessly as possible. I view online documentation as a tool for
the user, and not a "user guide." In my opinion, online documentation should
act more as a quick reference guide and not a user guide.

If you add all sorts of graphics, etc. and extra words, it tends to make the
online help not so helpful. Even though it is possible to display graphics,
we need to give the user the information he/she needs as quickly and
painlessly as possible. I like the idea of putting graphics in online help,
but they should probably be limited to icons, etc.. Certainly if you can "say
it" in a small graphic rather than a lengthy paragraph, that would be better.

If we make our online help into user guides, what's the use of a user guide
with a good table of contents and index? Or a great quick reference guide?

My idea of computer doc (online help, printed guides, etc.) is that we should
be trying to make it as easy as possible to give the users the information
he/she needs, as quickly as possible. Certainly, in my view, less is more.

Regards,
Bill Hartzer
Technical Writer
Fischer International Systems Corporation
Naples, Florida

William -dot- Hartzer -at- EMC2-TAO -dot- FISC -dot- COM


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