Re: The Lettuce Test

Subject: Re: The Lettuce Test
From: Elna Tymes <Etymes -at- LTS -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 6 Sep 1996 18:05:58 -0700

MacDonald, Alexander G. AP wrote:

> Has anyone ever heard of that grocery ordering software called Peapod's? If
> you own a computer and a modem, you can order food on line and then somebody
> will deliver it to your home. I've never used it, but here are hypothetical
> instructions.
<snip>
The example that followed, and the others that have been posited here,
are interesting exercises in creating user-friendly instructions, but I
would hate to assume that one has to be able to create something like
that in order to call onesself a technical writer.

The important part of the exercise is not necessarily the instructions,
but the thinking through that's required. After that, a basic level of
user-friendliness in the written instructions would qualify one as able
to do the job, I should think.

When we interview interns (and we hire tech. writing interns all the
time), we ask to see their solution to similar types of problems, often
invented on the spot. We are interested first in their ability to
analyze the problem, including defining the user's perspective, and then
in their ability to write instructions clearly. It doesn't matter as
much to us if they haven't thought through all the different types of
lettuce, or how they sort through the coins in their pocket, as long as
they get the basic idea right and then state things clearly and
appropriately.

Elna Tymes
Los Trancos Systems

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