Re: Quick-start guides?

Subject: Re: Quick-start guides?
From: Jane Bergen <jbergen1 -at- EARTHLINK -dot- NET>
Date: Mon, 31 May 1999 19:12:41 -0500

I didn't read the book, but I did read all the pages on the site you
gave below. I generally agree with him, but differ in a few. One place
I differ is his suggestion to "stop documenting everything" --- the
problem with this suggestion is that the alternative is to play a
guessing game with what the user wants or needs. That's pretty
subjective analysis. Isn't it better to provide MORE information, with
the obvious stipulation that it be well-organized and concise, than to
make generalizations or assumptions about an audience? Of course, if
you are writing for a very narrow, well-defined audience, this might
make sense. But in many cases, you really DO need to document every
field. I've literally seen users stumble over fields such as "Last
Name"! Rare, true, especially these days where assuming a little
computer literacy is not so far-fetched.

As for the rest of his suggestions ("Actions for Tech Writers"), I
think they have some merit. Now if we could only get our employers and
managers to buy into it!! Unfortunately, some of us work for some
pretty crummy ones....

Jane Bergen

----- Original Message -----
From: O'Neill, Kate <kateo -at- CINEBASE -dot- COM>

>Did anyone else read "Computers Stink" by Jack Bellis
>and think he made a very good point? His main thrust,
>when all is said and done, seems to be that, now more
>than ever (with so many computer users having to use
>so many diverse types of programs), self-documenting
>interfaces are critical to the usability of an
>application.
>
>Sure, this information is far from new for most of us,
>but it's pretty radical thinking for most of the
>developers I've worked with.
>
>But a strength of this book is the group of "action
>summaries" at the end (and listed on the web at
>http://www.netaxs.com/~jbellis/stink.htm) for various
>groups of people, including writers. It's worth a look,
>and possibly worth distributing to your coworkers.
>
>--
>Kate O'Neill: Manager of Documentation
>Cinebase Software
>kate -at- cinebase -dot- com ... direct -at- 408 -dot- 568 -dot- 7343

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