When do people consult documentation?

Subject: When do people consult documentation?
From: Kim Keegan <keegan -at- EXPLORERS -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 16 Jan 1997 13:28:53 -0800

In the "Editors" thread, Phil wrote:
...Besides, people are not ready to admit they do not know something...

This is interesting... Just this morning I distributed a one-page survey to our
customer support department to determine their comfort level with their PCs, software,
web browsing, e-mail and the like, building up to what kind of content they would like
to see on our Intranet site that would help them with their client projects.

I included one question that asked them to rank in order 1-3 what they would do if
they had a question about how to use an application. The choices were (1)look in the
manual; (2)use the on-line help; (3)ask someone else.

Two-thirds would first ask someone else for help before consulting the application's
documentation, thereby admitting that they do not know something, and going against
Phil's statement. Granted, this group of people isn't overly technical (they just
migrated from a DOS system to OS/2 and Windows - using a mouse is new to some of
them), so I can understand why they might shy away from online help. I knew when I
wrote the question that most of them would rather ask someone else for help -- they
are in a very hectic work environment.

It just goes to show that not all people are afraid to admit they don't know something
- you need to factor in how much time they have to complete the task and whether or
not they are concerned with *understanding* the solution or simply doing it.

I have my work cut out for me!
Kim Keegan | keegan -at- explorers -dot- com
"Trust in your calling, make sure your calling's true." - R.E.M., "I Believe"

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