DOCUMENTATIONExamples include operations manuals, productdemand specs, consultant study reports, salesliterature1. Descriptions: lists the features, capabilities & processes that a mechanism may use May begin with a sentence definition: A domestic dog is a four-legged mammal that may function as a pet, a worker, or a show competitor.
DOCUMENTATION (CONTINUED)2. Process Analyses: how something works Example: how an air bag works3. Instructions: how to do something Example: how to send a fax
TIPS FOR WRITING DOCUMENTATION Start with an introduction (tell us what we are about to do) Provide list of materials needed Keep it simple; no jargon (think of the “For Dummies” books) Write short, imperative commands, using active voice Avoid “Now you want to…” or “File>New>New Project”
VISUAL CUES IN DOCUMENTATION Add diagrams, photos, captions to help inexperienced users Number steps and stick to one action per step. Numbers indicate sequence, order, counting Bullet points indicate notes, in no particular order Highlight safety warnings Provide clear, intuitive headings to subdivide numbered steps
EXAMPLES OF GRAPHICS IN DOCUMENTATIONIKEA examples AVSIKT roll front cabinet 18x17" ALSVIK dual central kitchen faucet
LESSONS FROM USER TESTING Images may be more valuable than text in some situations • Clear, intuitive images can replace words • Color makes a difference to many users • Images need to be consistent in size, placement, etc. Experienced users can overlook poor instructions; inexperienced users will become confused, frustrated or will feel “dumb” • Important to set expectations: we’re testing my instructions, not your abilities, etc. • Asking users to “think aloud” can identify problems • Alertness to visual or auditory cues (frowning, sighing) is important
HELPFUL RESOURCES Howcast: video tutorials on all sorts of subjects The Product Manual Archive: Classic owners manuals, catalogs, hang tags, and other things Instructables: eBooks, videos, and illustrated tutorials on many subjects Warning Sign Generator: a place to experiment with design and content of warning messages
THE ENDFollow me on TwitterVisit my WorkplaceWriting Blog