Conventions, Intros, Overviews, Help, etc.

Subject: Conventions, Intros, Overviews, Help, etc.
From: Elizabeth Kane <bkane -at- ARTISOFT -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 28 May 1998 16:05:15 -0700

I agree that people don't read "conventions" sections. If you want to make
sure people know about the conventions you're using, you've gotta put a
note about them right where you're using them.

Most people also skip right past anything called Welcome, Introduction, or
Overview just as FAST as they can! Better words are needed.

People go right to what sounds like task-oriented material. Maybe if you
change "Introduction to Xware" to "How to Use Xware," the section will get
read, even if it is still introductory material. (Although I'm hearing that
people are now shying away from anything that says "How to," particularly
in online Help.)

At the STC conference, Jared Spool noted that most people don't want to
click Help. However, he discovered people are quite willing to click a
button in the same location that's called Hint! Everyone wants a "hint,"
but many don't want to admit they need "help." From childhood on, you're
encouraged to handle things on your own, without asking for help. So why
did we name it help? Maybe it's time to change it.

STC publications competition judges used to think every book needs a
separate conventions section. I thought it was silly, but we complied for
awhile. Now we've dropped them. I think judges these days have backed down
on that issue. We shouldn't be requiring things that users just don't use.

Beth Kane
Senior Tech Writer
bkane -at- artisoft -dot- com

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