Re: There's more to it than grammar

Subject: Re: There's more to it than grammar
From: Virginia_Day -at- DATACARD -dot- COM
Date: Mon, 15 Mar 1999 09:11:34 -0600


> One of the more problematic assumptions about technical communication is
> that it frequently assumes users already know, in general, what they want
> to do ...
> Then there is the line between information relevant to your
> application and information relevant to the user's field of specialty.


Not all applications/tools are designed for users who are expert at
anything remotely related to the application. The company I work for
creates software and hardware for printing personalized plastic cards (such
as employee badges). I have never heard of any generic training program
(such as for Administrative assistants) that includes using our (or a
competitor's) products, and I don't think they should.

Doesn't it all come down to knowing our audience(s)? To do my job well, I
need to know how the products I document come into the users' hands. I also
need to know how someone might be selected to be my "user." Michael Wing's
users are selected because of their expertise. Many of us have users
selected by other criteria, such as how well a receptionist answers the
phone or the entry-level wage of a welfare-to-work employee.

For mass-market applications (Word, Excel, IE) third-party books help to
fill the gap. For more specialized applications, I think many of us should
consider how our work fits into the big picture and provide at least the
basic support users might need. I've found that usability tests help me to
identify and justify including this information. In the best
circumstances, the information we provide will find its way into training
for those who use our products. In more typical circumstances, naive users
will see the information we provide and ask questions to get the rest of
the big picture. If your goal is the user's and customer's success, big
picture information contributes.

Regards, Virginia
My ideas, not those of my employer.

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

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