Online Documentation v. Hardcopy Doc -Reply

Subject: Online Documentation v. Hardcopy Doc -Reply
From: Bill Sullivan <bsullivan -at- SMTPLINK -dot- DELTECPOWER -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 28 Feb 1997 17:05:58 -0800

Sharon Elizabeth Echols asks:

---Is online or hardcopy documentation better?

And I reply: I thought this a week ago when Jane Berger asked
approximately the same question, and of course the question has been
asked many times before. It sounds as if you are looking for the One
True Answer, like it was religion or something. You may be on the
wrong track.

I would not look to my colleagues for the answer to a question like
this. I would look to my users. Find out what they like and want, and
what they are set up to browse or peruse. Send out a few reply cards,
or perhaps some e-mail. Make a few telephone calls. Get some audience
feedback, and bear in mind that some of our fastest growing
technologies support online documentation. So the answer you get this
week may not be good next Fall as more and more people start to use
it. Things are going to change over the next few years if not more.

And don't look for just one answer. What plays in Peoria may lay an
egg in Podunk, but you have to sell in both places. If you poll your
users about their preferences and the answer is 33 percent pdf, 33
percent HTML, and 33 percent hard copy, then you had better
accomodate all three of these options.

In fact that would be a much better question: How many options should
I accomodate?

Bill Sullivan
bsullivan -at- deltecpower -dot- com
San Diego, California

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