I've tried to give back to the Linux community by helping with documentation. I've helped with some FAQs, HOWTOs, and am working on a large reference manual. Lately I started wondering how non-programmers actually use documentation so I asked a few. [... (random conclusions excerpted below) ...]Absolutely very very valid reading for software developers and people involved in writing documentation and on-line help for both application and online websites... Make sure to check out the comments as well as the original article! :-)
- Non-programmers insist that context-sensitive, on-line help must be provided with an application.
- Non-programmers want screen-shots in the on-line help. They don't care if it increases an application's file size.
- Non-programmers ignore the printed manuals bundled with off-the-shelf software.
- Non-programmers prefer information that answers the question "How do I do X?" (where X is a common use of the application).
- Non-programmers that I talked to have never sent a bug report or a feature request to a software company. The idea of sending one directly to a programmer or a technical writer was a completely foreign concept.
Anders Jacobsen |