Re: What's with the new docs?

Subject: Re: What's with the new docs?
From: Michael Keith Anderson <mka -at- CRIS -dot- COM>
Date: Sun, 21 Jan 1996 23:55:24 -0600

Hello:

To answer at least one of Jane's questions -- I know what Microsoft has =
in mind. They hope people will purchase books from MS press when they =
determine their needs for documentation. I spoke with a tech writer =
there when I got MS Office. He said that after a lot of audience =
analysis, they determined "nobody" read their manuals. Those who did =
read to learn usually purchased manuals from third party sources anyway.

More and more I have noticed companies either produce reference manuals, =
tutorial manuals, exclusive on-line help, or a mixture of some or all. =
It seems to me there are about four basic audiences for software =
documentation:=20

* the experienced user who doesn't read the manual unless it's strictly =
for reference
* the experienced user who relies on on-line help only
* the inexperienced user who needs a manual for reference and tutorials
* the inexperienced user who preferes the on-line tutorials over the =
hardcopy (especially if it's multi-media)

Here are a couple of questions for you to kick around:

1. Is there a way to accurately please "most of the people most of the =
time"? This, of course, is impossible. However, there must be a way to =
research your users to help you plan your documentation.
2. How do you plan documentation around audience needs? Specifically, =
what determines which type of manual you write?

This topic of a special interest to me because I am currently =
engineering some documentation procedures centered around =
single-sourcing information. I am wondering if you can have different =
outputs to satisfy the customer and avoid content differences between =
them.


Keith Anderson

mka -at- cris -dot- com
mkanderson -at- ualr -dot- edu




----------
From: Jane Bergen[SMTP:janeb -at- airmail -dot- net]
Sent: Sunday, January 21, 1996 3:03 PM
To: Multiple recipients of list TECHWR-L
Subject: What's with the new docs?

I'm so exasperated..... what is happening with the documentation,
both online and paper, with some of the new Windows 95 programs? Or
perhaps I should rephrase that: what is NOT happening....?

<snip>
........................................................................=
....
Jane Bergen Technical Writer
janeb -at- answersoft -dot- com or janeb -at- airmail -dot- net
"The difference between the right word and the almost right word
is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug"
(Mark Twain)
........................................................................=
....

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