lydia wong & the truth of the Post article

Subject: lydia wong & the truth of the Post article
From: DURL <durl -at- BUFFNET -dot- NET>
Date: Thu, 18 Dec 1997 14:03:35 -0500

Lydia Wong's point struck me as very true: people don't want to
read the manual. *I* don't want to read the manual.
Lydia writes, "...people small doses,
formulated exactly to meet their needs, in words they will instantly
Egads, we've just invented apprenticeships!
If I worked for
Lydia's company, I'd compare the costs of the tech pub department/online
help development/etc... with the
costs of staffing tech support 24 hours a day. I'd also analyze customer
satisfaction with the manual against customer satisfaction with the 800
lines at, say, 5 minute hold times. I'd go with the cheaper, after
factoring in the $ impact of
customer satisfaction.
Since Pareto's law usually applies--80% of the customers use 20% of
of the software features--you could probably get by with a low level of
training. Those tech support reps would probably work for the $10/hr
that *nobody* on this list would *dream* of accepting. You'd need a few
experts for the remaining 20%
of customers...and, if you're working in a pure capitalist mode, do you
really care if you make those few happy? What %age of Word 97 users are
troubled by the questions that come up on the TW list?
Interestingly, in my recent post defining tech writing in part as
"writing stuff nobody wants to read," I rec'd a number of replies
saying I shouldn't *say* that. But *nobody* said it wasn't true!!
Maybe we are too busy making the information "accessible"
to notice that most of our intended users don't want the information!!
(I'm looking at 24 O&M sheets, which I'm including with a manual for a
machine built using the 24 parts these O&M sheets go with. The user has
been running the machine for 3 weeks now without them. My final product
will be 30-40 pages,plus drawings, plus these sheets.)
Don't tell my client!!
Um--anybody want to buy a nice poem?!

Mary Durlak Erie Documentation Inc.
East Aurora, New York (near Buffalo)
durl -at- buffnet -dot- net, or

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