Feedback needed for help documentation suite (hardcopy, online, HTML)

Subject: Feedback needed for help documentation suite (hardcopy, online, HTML)
From: Raymond Chenier <rchenier -at- SYNAPSE -dot- NET>
Date: Thu, 26 Oct 1995 23:14:22 GMT


I'm a Tech Writing student looking for some feedback on a sixth
semester project I am undertaking. The project involves providing
Internet software help documentation for the customers of an Internet
Service Provider/Internet Training Company. I have until Jan 95 to
define the need and the shape this project will take.

This ISP is providing live technical support but finds it somewhat
inefficient and costly, and with the large number of new customers
going online everyday, a solution is being sought in the form of a
help-type manual for software installation, configuration, and

I believe a paper manual to help customers get over the initial
connectivity hurdle is clearly insufficient. While a well-prepared
manual written for the lay person would certainly help, its life span
would be extremely limited by the upgrades in Internet related
software and the ISP's server. I am trying to work out a document plan
for a manual that would have some of these features:

-- A paper manual that the ISP can themselves upgrade and maintain
easily by use of something like MS-Word forms; a manual set up using
forms which would prompt the ISP employee for changes in the manual.
The ISP would then keep a limited supply of preprinted manuals.
-- An online help version of the manual that the customer could
download with the original software connectivity package. I am in the
process of learning the Easyhelp/MS-Word software combination.
-- An online help feature on the ISP's server written in HTML using
forms for feedback. I am already well-versed in HTML.

I think I'm on the right track by trying to make use of available
resources and setting up a documentation system that will evolve
alongside the need. My concerns are usability for the ISP and their
customers, and cost-effectiveness. I am thinking of setting up my own
web server next year (hobby), and I am treating this as something I
would want for my own customers.

Thanks in advance for any ideas,

Raymond Chenier

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