Re: Down Time

Subject: Re: Down Time
From: Sella Rush <SellaR -at- APPTECHSYS -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 5 Feb 1998 13:52:24 -0800

Someone mentioned Horton's book and figuring out the questions that the
documentation needs to answer. The best way to do this is to learn
about the users. Do some usability research if you can. Do a design
document, which should include audience analysis.

I just finished a big help project, and I spent way too much time
figuring out style while I was doing content. Do this now--and in
addition to regular style things like fonts, headings, etc., decide what
types of windows you want, when to use popups and what type of info to
put in them, other consistency issues that will help the user get a
sense of the documentation and be able to anticipate where to look for
info. Look at as many other help files as you can and decide what you
like, what you don't, what might apply to yours.

Not sure if you're new to online help, but if you are, do some
experimenting with hardware issues. Do you know what capabilities your
users will have? Will they all have 16 million colors or might some
have 256? Find out what problems this entails.

Are you planning any kind of tutorial? You might learn about
appropriate techniques now, just in case.

You might also try to get involved in the interface development process,
helping to design dialog boxes, etc., and of course any messages. I am
constantly amazed at how some really great programmers can occasionally
forget to think about how people will use the product.
Sella Rush
mailto:sellar -at- apptechsys -dot- com
Applied Technical Systems, Inc. (ATS)
Bremerton, Washington USA
Developers of the CCM Database

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