Lots of forms, take II?

Subject: Lots of forms, take II?
From: "Hart, Geoff" <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 6 Feb 2001 09:50:35 -0500

Kelly Williamson provides additional details:

<<The forms in the online manual are well organized and the names *should
be* irrelevant: they should just find the title of the form they are looking
for in the manual (e.g., Expense Report for Case Managers), click the link,
and the form opens for them (they currently don't even have access to the
lookup table--they shouldn't need it).>>

Sounds like a good design. If the lookup table is just for your use (or your
successor should you move on to larger forms <g>), I'd recommend using names
that you will recognize without having to consult a lookup table. You'll
still need to produce the lookup table so that future maintenance of the
online manual is easy. Don't know about you, but I have trouble remembering
file names from week to week, let alone from year to year. (Call me Homer!)

<<They would literally have to be taught how to copy the forms to their hard
drive--they really have almost zero computer skills, despite our trainer
having taught them Windows basics at least one or two times already.>>

Would it be feasible to create a simple installation routine that dumps the
entire WebHelp system into "My Documents", puts an icon on their desktop,
and adds a shortcut to the start menu? (This could be done with a full
installer such as the one sold by Vise, or simply by a DOS batch file that
copies the appropriate files to the correct places.) If you don't have
access to a friendly programmer, and want to do the batch file route, it's
easy enough to create an autorun file on the CD that will automatically run
when the CD is inserted and copy files to the appropriate directories. Have
a look at Microsoft's online knowledge base for details on how to create
autorun files.

<<these are remote users that do not have access to the corporate network
and do not have Internet access.>>

Scratch the intranet, then. <g> Sounds like we're back to the CD!

--Geoff Hart, FERIC, Pointe-Claire, Quebec
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
"User's advocate" online monthly at

"Technical writing... requires understanding the audience, understanding
what activities the user wants to accomplish, and translating the often
idiosyncratic and unplanned design into something that appears to make
sense."--Donald Norman, The Invisible Computer

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