Re: Educating Rita

Subject: Re: Educating Rita
From: "Peter J. Harbeson" <harbeson -at- GARLIC -dot- COM>
Date: Sun, 2 May 1999 09:17:42 -0700

> My question: What's an effective way to approach
> a touchy, rather defensive SME to offer help in
> designing a GUI?

On the projects I work on, this would be done by submitting a bug report
that clearly lays out the usability problem, the impact on the user, the
workaround (if any), and the proposed fix. Writing clear, useful bug reports
is a valuable technical writing skill.

As for:
>Technical writing is information delivery, or as I like to say, "ramming as
>much information down the user's throat as painlessly as possibly."

Yeah, I've seen documentation created from that perspective. It's useful for
my "examples of what to do wrong" file. I think instead it's important to
take into
account the audience, the problem the user is trying to solve in turning to
the documentation, and how to make the right information easily available at
the right time and place.

Software interfaces ARE information delivery; that's why technical writers
need to care about them, and why the perspective of a technical writer is
valuable in interface design.

---
Peter J. Harbeson ( harbeson -at- structions -dot- com )
Technical Writing, Instructional Design, Help System Engineering
408-779-4886, www.structions.com

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