Re: A direct attack on TW? - NOT

Subject: Re: A direct attack on TW? - NOT
From: John Posada <john -at- TDANDW -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 23 Jul 1998 15:48:07 -0400

Burke Michael wrote:
> All
> I wanted to pass on an interesting advertisement that takes a direct
> swipe at a user manual I wrote, and at all user manuals in general.

I don't see this as a swipe at all user manuals. Should I infer that
because someone's software that has nothing to do with mine, or my
industry, or my field, comes with a special keyboard and mine doesn't,
that I am at a disadvantage?

> A recent ad run by one of our competitors directly attacked our product
> because of the existence of a user manual, essentially implying that
> since we supply a manual for out product, then our product must be
> terribly complicated. The manual in question runs a scant 50 pages, 30
> of which are installation instructions, but this is hardly mentioned in
> the ad.

Maybe someone should should examine why you need 30 pages to install and
they don't. Maybe they have a point.

> Their product uses a special keyboard which you can use to access the
> various elements of the software. So it doesn't need a manual.

It's your developers who should be concerned...

> Our product is intuitive enough that it probably doesn't need a user
> manual, but since we needed to do an install guide, we decided to put
> some interface instructions, as well.
> Now I know that this is merely an ad that is running in a magazine aimed
> at a very narrow audience, one that probably doesn't want to read a
> manual (professional pilots). But, should we as TW be concerned about a
> direct attack on a product based on the existence of a manual?

So, if the audience doesn't want to read manuals, and the competition
understands this, addressed the point and came up with a way to make the
users happier by not having a manual, then they seem to have done a
better needs analysis, and have every right to advertise the product
that way.

I know you were looking for a sympathetic ear, but maybe someone should
be asking your developers some hard questions instead.

John Posada, Technical Writer (and proud of the title)
The world's premier Internet fax service company: The FaxSav Global
-work -personal
-work mailto:posada -at- faxsav -dot- com -personal mailto:john -at- tdandw -dot- com
-work phone: 732-906-2000 X2296 -home phone: 732-291-7811
My opinions are mine, and neither you nor my company can take credit for

"One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good
poem, see a fine picture, and, if it were possible, to speak a few
reasonable words.", Goethe
"Say all you have to say in the fewest possible words, or your reader
will be sure to skip them; and in the plainest possible words or he will
certainly misunderstand them.", John Ruskin

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