Re: No one reads the manuals

Subject: Re: No one reads the manuals
From: Bruce Conway <bconway -at- ISLAND -dot- NET>
Date: Tue, 22 Dec 1998 12:35:12 +0000

In my experience (Help Desk - 7 years(of innocent "bliss")), people
normally do the following (in sequence):

1. panic
2. ask a co-worker
3. phone the Help Desk (if they can get through)
4. try the online help
5 find somebody with a manual (in the large corporation where I worked
- the one that makes your home telephones - they did not issue manuals)
6. panic (again)
7. put on their coat and go home early (giving you, the Help Desk guy, a
bit of a "look"
on the way out

But (a very big "but"), it is possible the manager in question here, is
not sure what he means by "manual". I think he/she is using it as a
convenient (& shorter) word for "documentation", (or documentation set)
which, as we know, can exist in a variety of formats, and designed to be
used in conjunction (with each other), and not in isolation. Therefore
the "manual" in question is a lot (alot?) more useful than he/she

Would it be possible to survey the readers of this list? (After all, we
are users of manuals as well). Or, do we get "moderated" for that kind
of behaviour?

In my opinion, the "manual" makes a good substitute for a formal
training course (with limitations of course). I relied very heavily on
the MS Word manual when learning Word. I'm also told the RoboHelp
Tutorial will give you about 80% of what you need (of course I don't
believe that, otherwise DK would get mad at me, but ....)

Suzanne Gerrior wrote:
> This message is in MIME format. Since your mail reader does not understand
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> I don't want to beat a dead horse here, but I need some information - fast!
> I was just in a meeting with my boss who made this very innocent comment to
> me and my co-worker:
> "It must be very frustrating to be in a profession where no one reads what
> you produce."
> I have searched the archives and not found the type of info that I'm looking
> for. Can anyone tell me if they know "for a fact" that user's read the
> documentation (skimming is included as reading). By this I mean have you
> done a usability test, have you talked to customers. Does anyone have facts
> that I can use to back up my belief that user's do read the manuals.
> Thanks
> Suzanne Gerrior
> Raymark Business Systems Inc.
Bruce Conway *** Technical Writer
Member: STC and VIATeC (Vancouver Island)
Tel: 250-336-8338 ( til Jan 1,99)
Tel: 250-474-9939 (after Jan 1,99)
Email: <bconway -at- island -dot- net>

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