Re: PDF v paper--what about customers?

Subject: Re: PDF v paper--what about customers?
From: Holli Kearns <hkearns -at- CISCO -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 16 Dec 1998 06:54:44 -0800

At 12:58 PM 12/16/98 +0100, you wrote:
>Why is there a need for paper doc. to be shipped with a software product?
>For example: I write the doc. in Word, I convert it to PDF and put it on a
>CD. The final user can then view the doc. or print the doc. if need be.
>Production costs are reduced. No printing and lighter packages to ship.
>Am I over simplifying the situation?
Sure, your solution will work just fine if your goal is to reduce product costs. If that is your only goal, I am saddened. Why? Because I see so many companies losing touch with what our real goal should be. We're supposed to be in this business to empower the users--to provide them with the right type of information when they need it to make their experience with our product successful.

Everyone who has posted had good information based on what they have done and why, which might be useful. But, I think the answer is "it depends." On what does it depend? ON YOUR AUDIENCE!

Sorry, but I see us getting so caught up on what we think is right or explaining we have done at our companies. The number one thing is whether your users will be happy with just PDF files. We have spent a lot of time going to customers and asking them what they want. For some of our products, customers don't think they need printed manuals. For other products, they prefer them. What do we do? We provide what they want! This means that some products get printed manuals and online help and other products just have online help.

Seriously, I strongly suggest that you get as much user input as possible. Ideally, watch users actually using your products or competitors products and observe how they use documentation. If you can't do that, at least ask them. (But keep in mind that people don't always report what they actually do.) But, asking them is better than just guessing.


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