TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
Subject:Re: Value of paper docs? From:Robert Plamondon <robert -at- PLAMONDON -dot- COM> Date:Wed, 2 Oct 1996 06:51:37 PDT
Are you really interested only in the perceived value of printed manuals
for the INITIAL sale? This is the "Value of manuals to fly-by-night
Companies that expect to remain in business should focus on the perceived
value of manuals for SUBSEQUENT sales. Will the user buy version 2.0,
or is he so fed up with the "useless" product that he will flee to
the competition by purchasing a "competitive upgrade"?
Microsoft documentation is in something of a death spiral. By focusing
first on baby-food manuals with little real content, they set themselves
up for the realization that useless manuals cost a lot more than no
manuals at all, while giving comparable performance. There was also
a period where they bragged about being able to cut 90% out of their
manuals and get away with it. Many people concluded that they should
do a 90% cut, too.
It's as if someone who weighted 1200 pounds became much healthier
with a 90% weight loss, causing many 150-pound readers to attempt
the same thing.
But I digress. People who have not yet used a piece of software are
just guessing at the value of the documentation. Later on, the TRUE
value of the documentation can be learned, though probably not from
a simple "put a dollar value on each piece of the product" sort of
Robert Plamondon, President/Managing Editor, High-Tech Technical Writing, Inc.
36475 Norton Creek Road * Blodgett * Oregon * 97326
robert -at- plamondon -dot- com * (541) 453-5841 * Fax: (541) 453-4139