Documenting Everything

Subject: Documenting Everything
From: David Orr <dorr -at- ORRNET -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 1 Jun 1999 09:48:18 -0500

Writing minimalist documentation requires a more sophisticated use of
audience and task analysis than tech writers usually employ.
Instructional designers are trained routinely to do critical task and
most used task analysis as part of training design. This same approach
is needed to make minimalist documentation successful.

Case Study

We had a client who had a 600-800 screen GUI system (no one new exactly
how many screens there were). The training guide/user manual was 2500
pages. They had documented everything. They also trained people in
everything. The system accommodated so many exceptions to its core
processes that the core processes got obscured. I'll call the name of
the system GUM (Grand, Unusable Mess). Users spent their own money to
produce "GUM Sucks!" buttons (true story), which they proudly wore to
training classes. Instructors began wearing "GUM Sucks!" buttons to
identify with their trainees.

To fix this mess, we worked with power users to determine what was the
Base Path, or best route through the core functions of the system. We
were able to reduce the core functionality to 23 tasks and describe them
in 125 pages. These became the backbone of an EPSS (electronic
performance support system) that sequenced screens for each task and
provided help for each task screen by screen. We developed other
strategies for building upon users core knowledge over time. The
2500-page manual is a door stop now.

M. David Orr
Orr & Associates/Usability Management

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

Previous by Author: Re: order Adobe product tryouts
Next by Author: Re: To thank or not to thank...
Previous by Thread: Re: The Interview from Hell! Who are they?
Next by Thread: Re: Documentation Theory?

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads