Re: FWD: Who is my audience?

Subject: Re: FWD: Who is my audience?
From: "Walker, Arlen P" <Arlen -dot- P -dot- Walker -at- JCI -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 29 Oct 1997 09:09:18 -0600

>1. At the moment, there are 9 manuals, and many, many e-mail updates to
>them. There is no on-line help, or web-based help. I have the choice of
>either re-doing the paper documentation, creating application help
>(accessible from the Help drop menu inside a module), or creating web
>help (in a secure web site). Which type of documentation would you
>consider to be a priority?
You don't say how accessible the web is to the people who are using the
application. If they can jump to the web while using the app, I'd focus on
web. If, as I suspect, jumping to the web is not a quick and simple step
for them, I'd do the application help first.

>2. My 4000 users are a very diverse group of people. They include
>programmers, tech staff, registrarial staff, faculty, secretaries, and
>upper level management. I know that there are computer whizzes out there,
>but there are also staff who still use rolodexes to track their students.
>A fair number of staff are not comfortable with computers.
>The main lesson that I have learned from this listserv is "know thy
>reader". I know them, but I don't know who to write for. Would you write
>for the rolodex users? The programmers? The secretaries (who only look at
>information)? The registrarial staff (who change all types of

(Ok, OK, I'll clarify that!) I'd write for all of them, but not in the same
manual. Real basic, cookbook-style step-by-steps for the novice users. Call
them "getting started" or "handy reference" or "cheat sheets." More detail
for the users who want/need more (typically the programmers -- you can
never tell them enough about what's going on). Then the users can pick
their own favorites. The secretarial staff can then easily avoid the sheets
that cover
what they don't do. As for priority, do the basic ones first, because those
are the users most in need.

>I'm only allowed to create one set of documentation. The last set was
>written for the registrarial staff. Needless to say, the larger body of
>secretaries complained about all of the useless information. The
>non-computer users didn't read the manuals since I didn't tell them how
>to turn their computers on. Management liked the manuals, but couldn't
>understand why they were never used and why errors were still being made
>by all staff.
>Does anybody have an opinion about my audience?
Well, I have an opinion about the intellectually-challenged mighty mental
midget who said "one size fits all" applies to docs, but I'll keep it to

I will, however, offer the suggestion that the approach of simple, quick
steps in one book and more detailed coverage in a fuller reference book can
count as "one set" of docs. If they want evidence, show them the
Encyclopedia Britannica.

Have fun,
Chief Managing Director In Charge, Department of Redundancy Department
DNRC 224

Arlen -dot- P -dot- Walker -at- JCI -dot- Com
In God we trust; all others must provide data.
Opinions expressed are mine and mine alone.
If JCI had an opinion on this, they'd hire someone else to deliver it.

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