Re: What *is* user-friendly...

Subject: Re: What *is* user-friendly...
From: rjl -at- BOSTECH -dot- COM
Date: Mon, 22 Jan 1996 10:23:23 EST

WandaJane had a discussion with a friend regarding the definition of "user
friendly."

See? SEE!!?? This is why you need tech communicators. I've always believed
the phrase "user friendly" came from a developer, not a writer. Now we have
an ambiguous term.

I tend to agree with WandaJane. For me, the term "user friendly" simply means
"easy to use." A document does not have to contain cartoons, smiley faces,
or pointing characters in order to be easy to use. In fact, as we all know,
a manual could be -loaded- with these things yet still incomprehensible and
useless for explaining procedures.

Sure, it's nice to have Dilbert supply a joke on the page, but when it's late
at night and I'm trying to figure out how to get an obscure feature to
work, I don't need humor. I need short, accurate, well-written steps that
tell me exactly what I need to know. I don't need a wacky index, I need
a nice, thick, clearly written index that links back to headings that match
the feature names.

And I'd like the documentation to explain as much as possible about all the
features. A smiley-book that gives me only the basics is likely useless, I
can figure out how to open, rename, and save files. Instead, tell me
-everything- that the system will do. Doggone it, I -paid- for those features
and I expect some sort of explanation of how to use them.

Rick Lippincott
Boston Technology
Wakefield, MA
rjl -at- bostech -dot- com


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