Re: Advice On User Manuals

Subject: Re: Advice On User Manuals
From: "Jared M. Spool" <jspool -at- UIE -dot- COM>
Date: Sun, 3 Dec 1995 22:49:59 -0500

Suzanne Pyle wrote:

> My question involves using engineering specs to write the manual.
> Have any of you done this before without actually using the
> software/hardware? And if you have, did you also interface with
> engineers for your questions ?

We have been successful at producing a full working version of the
design by building a paper mockup. The paper mockup is a fully
interactive representation of the design. It has these advantages:

o It can be built from the specifications. From a well defined set
of specifications, it often takes us less than an hour to build. No
special talents necessary.

o If the spec isn't well defined, then details are identified and
decisions get made. This gives the development team a tool for
determining the missing parts of the design.

o You can take the mockup and actually use it to write the manual
from. You can interact with the mockup to determine the behaviours
and match them to the tasks.

o You can verify the mockup by showing it to the other members of the
development team. The mockup becomes a visualization of what the
design will look like, much like an architect's cardboard model or a
car designer's clay model. It becomes the common medium for
discussing the actual behavior of the application.

We have used this technique successfully with dozens of products.

I hope you find this helpful.


Jared M. Spool User Interface Engineering
jspool -at- uie -dot- com 800 Turnpike Street, Suite 101
(508) 975-4343 North Andover, MA 01845
fax: (508) 975-5353 USA

If you send me your postal address, you'll get
the next issue of our newsletter, Eye For Design.

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