Usability: Tutorial *chapter* or *manual*

Subject: Usability: Tutorial *chapter* or *manual*
From: "Engstrom, Douglas D." <EngstromDD -at- PHIBRED -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 9 Apr 1997 08:23:24 -0500

Sue:

This is written in response to:
*************************
So, forget about the cost difference. If you had your choice, would
you prefer to have a 500 page manual that includes ONE WHOLE CHAPTER
on learning the program that is 150 pages long? Or would you prefer
to have a separate "Learning" booklet (likely saddle-stitched, btw)
and a separate user's guide?
*************************
I faced a very similar choice several years ago, when I was working for
a small agricultural software company. When re-designing the
documentation, we wound up with a 250-350 page "main reference manual"
on 8.5"x11" pages, a 15-20 page "Setup Guide" on 5.5"x8.5" pages, and a
30-50 page "Tutorial" on 8.5"x 5.5" pages for most products. The
Tutorial walked through exercises using sample data.

In earlier releases, all the documentation had been mashed together in a
single binder. The change was successful. The two small-format books
were regarded as much friendlier by customers, who started actually
doing setups correctly, with fewer phone calls, and using the Tutorial,
which most of them had ignored. Sales received a lot of favorable
comments. It also opened up a new marketing possibility--prospective
customers were given a limited-boot edition of the program and just the
tutorial portion of the manual as a demo.

We recovered part of the additional cost by taking the Tutorials out of
the upgrade packets. Existing users were unlikely to re-take basic
training, and didn't seem to miss it.

Skoal,


Doug Engstrom "It's hard not to rock the boat when you're
engstromdd -at- phibred -dot- com sailing against the undertow."
--- The Indigo Girls

#######################################################################
My opinions only, not those of Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc.
#######################################################################

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