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>Here's a conundrum...I once read a hypothetical (I THINK it was a
>hypothetical) situation in which a manual was reduced literally to nothing
>more than a comic book without even thought balloons to interrupt the
>graphical approach. Then, when a user was hurt by not following the
>instructions closely, he/she sued on the basis that any instructions that
>look like a comic book can't reasonably expect to be taken seriously, hence
>is containing its own seeds for being ignored.
This is true enough. Users do not derive their opinions from first
principles and logical analysis, but divide everything they encounter
into rough categories almost before they see them, and deal with things
on the basis of that categorization. A user who considers comic books
to be irrelevant kid stuff will throw away a comic-style manual almost
without noticing it, since to him it has no more relevance than the
plastic peanuts that surrounded the product.
If you want users to pay attention to the manual, it has to look like
a manual that must be paid attention to.
Robert Plamondon, High-Tech Technical Writing, Inc.
36475 Norton Creek Road * Blodgett * Oregon * 97326
robert -at- plamondon -dot- com * (541) 453-5841 * Fax: (541) 453-4139 http://www.pioneer.net/~robertp