surveys

Subject: surveys
From: Damien Braniff <Damien_Braniff -at- PAC -dot- CO -dot- UK>
Date: Fri, 13 Mar 1998 15:58:40 +0000

As part of my thesis project I will be doing a survey of our installers and
end users. I've been doing some general background reading and and found
several studies and books that cover (both hard copy and online) the
usability of the literature. The studies seem to concentrate on usability
from the perspective of "looks" - readability, use of white space and so
on. It seems to be assumed that the manuals have been properly edited and
contain all the information they should contain. Am I missing something?
Are there surveys which cover content or is it simply too "topic specific"
to do a general survey? My interest is that, as we sell to installers and
they sell to the end user, we don't have any direct contact with the user
(trying to fix that!) and so we don't get the normal feedback you might
expect re the documentation. But unless we know what the user actually
wants in the lit and the best structure for their ease of use, we can't be
sure we're providing good documents. As we've no direct contact we only
hear if somebody complains. We're just about to start putting the TW email
address in the docs so that may help.

What I want to find out is do people read the documentation and, if not,
why not? If they do, how do they use it - skim, read cover to cover etc?
Do we cater for the wide rage of users? etc. I've come across a couple
articles which covered this for Help but if anyone knows of more they'd be
most welcome.

Damien Braniff
Technical Author
PAC International




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