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I am very interested in the discussion about audience analysis. The
I work for has recently begun producing Windows software for industrial
clients (previously they had produced only hardware and one DOS-based
software product), and I've been wondering how to find out what kind of
software documentation our customers prefer and will actually use.
For example, we have been focusing a lot on online help, but some misc.
comments I've received from engineers/marketing people in the company
made me wonder if our efforts are misplaced. One said he wasn't aware
product had online help; another didn't know what online help was. Two
others said they knew help was there but had never used it. These people
are all familiar with or heavily involved in the project and are
experienced Windows users. Will our users--many of whom are used to a
environment--fare any better?
Also, how do you find out what the customer actually wants? Our
asked some customers who were in town for training to give us feedback
documentation. We learned that they didn't know what they wanted and
provide few specifics about what they liked or disliked about our
documentation. Anyone had luck in extracting usable feedback from
Documentation Specialist (there's another title to add to the recent
of tech. writer names)
karen -dot- brown -at- cho -dot- ge -dot- com