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User Documentation. Documentation Guidelines. Break the documentation down by tasks Plan for an audience State the purpose of the document Organize the documentation Develop a product visualization Pick the appropriate medium Decide on a page format and layout Design for ease of editing.

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User Documentation

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documentation guidelines
Documentation Guidelines
  • Break the documentation down by tasks
  • Plan for an audience
  • State the purpose of the document
  • Organize the documentation
  • Develop a product visualization
  • Pick the appropriate medium
  • Decide on a page format and layout
  • Design for ease of editing
break down by task
Break Down by Task
  • Users don’t like to read documentation
  • Avoid software orientation
  • Avoid menu orientation
  • Avoid user-role orientation (e.g., Operators Guide, Programmers Guide, etc.)
  • Use Task Orientation
task orientation
Task Orientation
  • Who performs each task?
  • What action begins each task?
  • What are the specific steps involved in performing the task?
  • What action ends each task?
  • Are there any variations in H/W or in the general environment which would alter it?
plan for an audience
Plan for an Audience
  • Distinguish between audiences
    • Relative computer sophistication
    • General background, training, and education
    • Attitude toward information
  • Types of audiences
    • Novice
    • Intermediate
    • Expert
    • Casual
purpose of document
Purpose of Document
  • What is the specific technical problem?
  • What is the general business background problem it also needs to answer?
organize text
Organize Text
  • Text should be organized in ways expected by readers
  • The organization should be apparent to readers
  • Let the reader know the organization with explicit words or pictures
organizational alternatives
Organizational Alternatives
  • Chronological order
  • Most important to least important order
  • Order of need
  • Order of difficulty
  • Question/answer order
  • Comparison/contrast order
  • Spatial order (with respect to the screen)
  • Alphabetical order
develop a product visualization
Develop a Product Visualization
  • Create a picture in the reader’s mind of the system.
pick the appropriate media
Pick the Appropriate Media
  • Manuals
  • Brochures
  • Reference cards
  • Online documentation
reference card attributes
Reference Card Attributes
  • Contain only most relevant information
  • Have adequate use of white space
  • Are legible
  • Have effective headings
  • Provide easy access to information
  • Provide logical groupings of information
online documentation considerations
Online Documentation Considerations
  • User cannot cope with as much information online as in written form
  • Users have less success finding information online than similarly trained people using printed sources
determine page format and layout
Determine Page Format and Layout
  • Give attention to:
    • Legibility of print
    • Spatial arrangements
    • Color print and background
legibility of print
Legibility of Print
  • Typefaces
    • Helvetica or Letter Gothic are preferred
    • Serif is better than sans serif
    • Courier photocopies better
  • Readers like use of boldface text
  • Users prefer Arabic over Roman
  • Italicized text is harder to read
  • Mixed typefaces slows reading
spatial arrangements
Spatial Arrangements
  • Use 40% print density and wide margins
  • Use active white space
  • Ragged right margins are preferred
color print and background
Color Print and Background
  • Black on white is best
  • Other possibilities are:
    • Green on white
    • Blue on yellow
    • Black on yellow
    • Red on yellow
  • 5 ½ x 9 layout is becoming standard (less foreboding, easier to handle, difficult to photocopy)
plan for updating
Plan for Updating
  • Number and title all pages
  • Number sections separately
  • Place change page sheet at front
  • Include reader comment endsheet
what makes good on line documentation
What Makes Good On-Line Documentation?
  • Well Presented – fonts, colors, etc.
  • Well Organized – take into account that only one screen can be seen
  • Well Written – grammar, spelling, etc.
  • Balanced – with respect to text and graphics
  • Up To Date – information should be regularly updated
what makes good on line documentation cont d
What Makes Good On-Line Documentation? (cont’d)
  • Interesting – tone and style are friendly and informal
  • Well Structured – homepage needs to give an overall plan for the site and structure should not be cumbersome
  • Searchable – contain common key words to make finding easy
  • Consistent – there must be consistency in style among the pages
what makes good on line documentation cont d20
What Makes Good On-Line Documentation? (cont’d)
  • Impressive – at least the homepage should have high visual impact
  • Entertaining – users have a short attention span, and like to have fun
  • Maintained – changes must be made in a timely manner
  • Reliable – must be accurate and hyperlinks must be current