TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
Subject:Re: Write the User Guide First From:Jean Farris <jfarris -at- THRU-PUT -dot- COM> Date:Fri, 8 May 1998 16:01:27 -0700
Well, this does make sense... although they weren't writing a user guide,
they were writing extended functional specs. They just put a pretty name on
it and called it innovative.
www.thru-put.com mailto:jfarris -at- thru-put -dot- com
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Michael Blair [SMTP:mjblair -at- TOTAL -dot- NET]
> Sent: Friday, May 08, 1998 2:01 PM
> To: TECHWR-L -at- LISTSERV -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU
> Subject: Write the User Guide First
> I thought I'd just toss this out to see what happens.
> About ten years ago I took a company sponsored human interface design
> course a few years ago from an outfit called the Learning Tree or some
> such thing. They guy giving the course was an ex-NASA type -- who, btw,
> had some great war stories about the early days of the space program. One
> of the first things he told his audience, exactly one of whom was a
> technical writer, was that when designing a system that humans will use,
> write the user guide first.
> It made sense to me (as the sole tech writer), nor did it seem to be a
> particularly radical idea, but the project managers, analysts and
> programmers also taking the course were scandalized. How could you write
> the user guide before you built the system?
> I should point out that this paritcular company spent millions of dollars
> designing systems without bothering to consult users.
> Michael Blair
> Blair Technical Communications Tel: (514) 989-8713
> 106 - 3500 Atwater Avenue Fax: (514) 989-7521
> Montreal, Quebec CANADA H3H 1Y5 Email: mjblair -at- total -dot- net