Re[2]: Nonstandard HTML

Subject: Re[2]: Nonstandard HTML
From: Arlen -dot- P -dot- Walker -at- JCI -dot- COM
Date: Thu, 25 Apr 1996 12:03:00 -0600

But the customers said that they believed presentation and branding
was more important to pubs folks than timeliness or accuracy or
completeness. Because they were always having problems with those
areas, but the books always looked great. Just something for us all
to ponder on.

I'd love to see a variation of that study performed.

Create four sets of documentation.

Set A is beautifully done with illustrations, tightly organized. The
information is accurate. It's real bang-up job, one we'd all be proud

Set B is text-only, no or few illustrations, and badly organized. The
information is accurate.

Sets C & D are just like A&B but the information is incomplete.

Ask the users to rate the documentation sets. (Obviously the test is a
blind one, so they shouldn't be informed which manuals have complete
information and which do not.)

My guess is that they'd rate the docs A, C, B, D. The psychology of the
choice is that they would believe set B was incomplete and inaccurate,
because they wouldn't be able to locate the information in it readily. But
then, I've been wrong on these kind of things before, and I have to admit
I'm not *sure* that's the way they'd rate it. It's just a guess. That's why
I'd like to see the result.

My basis for it is that in my experience users will often vote one way with
their mouths, but another way with their actions. I can't honestly claim to
be much different, though. If asked "Do you want good-looking but
incomplete docs, or badly done but complete docs?" I'd probably say the
latter. But when it came down to using them, I'd probably judge them
equally unusable. (It would depend on how incomplete or how clumsy they
were. After all, what's the practical difference between "It's not in the
manual" and "I can't find it in the manual?")

It's an interesting study, though. Definitely something to ponder. I wonder
how we can find the optimum point?

Have fun,
Chief Managing Director In Charge, Department of Redundancy Department
DNRC 124

Arlen -dot- P -dot- Walker -at- JCI -dot- Com
In God we trust; all others must provide data.
Opinions expressed are mine and mine alone.
If JCI had an opinion on this, they'd hire someone else to deliver it.

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