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--- User focus ---

1.1.8

Describe the importance of user documentation.

 

Teaching Note:

S/E The quality of user documentation can affect the rate of implementation of the new system.

 

Sample Question:

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JSR Notes:

User Documentation:

This is important for people who may not understand the program for one reason or another.

Be explicit with your instructions and explanations.

This can be something that is easy to pooh pooh. "Oh, the user will figure it out..." is a tendency that has to be suppressed. You may be able to figure things out, but you're a developer; you should be able to figure things out. You have to keep in mind that many people a lot less experienced than you with IT may be tasked with using your software product at some time. The documentation should be written and developed to the "least common denominator". Even something as simple as an installation instruction of "Drag to the Applications folder" should be included.

The other thing to keep in mind is that making good user documentation is not rocket science, so in terms of the acceptance and propagation of your product, this is the last thing that should hold it back. Even though not necessarily rocket science, it still takes thought and planning and commitment of resources to produce at the company level. Companies that pay attention to user documentation and tutorials etc. tend to be more successful with the implementation of new systems and software in particular.

 

User Documentation "Now-a-days"

It is all too easy to want to rely on Google searches, and third party tutorials and videos to take the place of good original documentation. But it should still be a priority for individual programmers and companies to produce the best user documentation they can. Ultimately, potential users who walk away from a product because they cannot figure out how to do something are lost revenu.

On-line vs Google search vs. YouTube - each has it's own advantages and disadvantages. Videos can be great, but are often shunned by users because they take too much time to look through to find one specific point.

Never-the-less it is curious to note how "WikiHow" type websites really can often offer better help than official documentation.

But one main point with this "new world" of on-line help and documentation is simply to recognize the dynamic when producing documentation. And the other main point to keep in mind the teaching note above that when you first release a product, for a while, your user documentation will be the only available, so if for no other reason than to get your product off the ground, you should invest strongly in good user documentation. A good recent example of this was the quality of video instruction etc. for Swift, Apple's new app programming language, which was produced right at Apple.

 

 

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Jaime: Not just comments in your code/JavaDoc, but user manuals