How do readers use online docs?

Subject: How do readers use online docs?
From: "Bergen, Jane" <janeb -at- ANSWERSOFT -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 6 Aug 1997 08:56:24 -0500

We are finally making the move to putting our documents (user guide,
tech ref. guide, etc.) online. The plan is to distribute them on a
CD-ROM with the software (which already has online help...as
distinguished from online documentation), along with a small printed
"Getting Started" guide. We're looking at the tools to do this (Adobe
Acrobat, Folio, etc.), but we've now run into another interesting
puzzle: How do real-world software users really USE online
documentation?

Do they tend to just print it out? Do they tend to read the documents on
the screen? How much searching do they do? If they do print out the
docs, do they print the whole enchilada or only portions?

I'm trying to come up with a "plan" that involves users' needs (a new
concept in this organization). It seems that many of us involved in this
project have different ideas of what those needs are. Any help,
suggestions, war stories, references to articles, etc. would be most
appreciated.

Thanks,

Jane Bergen
Technical Writer,
AnswerSoft, Inc. Richardson, TX
janeb -at- answersoft -dot- com

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