Re: There's more to it than grammar

Subject: Re: There's more to it than grammar
From: Jay Wynia <jwynia -at- JASC -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 12 Mar 1999 11:19:43 -0600

> Don't you think that most users pick up a user's guide to locate how
> to do
> something or how to solve a problem? They usually have the big
> picture
> before they purchase the equipment or software.

While I do think that many users primarily access documentation
materials in a "just-in-time" sort of way, I think it is a dangerous
assumption that the users actually have the big picture before a
purchase or before use. As an example, many techwriters write to this
very list asking for advice on learning [insert popular techwriting tool
here] because their boss bought it and they are being told to do work
with it, even though they have no idea how it works. Many users buy a
product (at least software) because they were told it would help them do
X, not because they already understand or are able to do X. Another
example: many software documenters[sic] are responsible for creating
screenshots, but a significant portion of those feel lost in
understanding why they won't resize, or what format to put them in,
which are issues I consider "big picture" issues for graphics. If the
techwriter/users are not in command of the big picture at the purchase
time or when they start using the software, there are likely large
segments of the general user base for software who are in a similar
situation. Software or product buyer != Software or product user.(see
ps) Just imagine how much easier it is to assemble a bike when you have
seen the "big picture" of what a bike looks like. Each small step makes
far more sense.

However, I don't feel that the "big picture" should be shoved down the
throat of an experienced user, but it should be easily accessible. Put
it in a chapter specifically for that or in related topics of a help

J Wynia

PS. != means not equal

From ??? -at- ??? Sun Jan 00 00:00:00 0000=

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