FW: Usability Studies and Manual Organization

Subject: FW: Usability Studies and Manual Organization
From: "Lippincott, Richard" <RLippincott -at- as-e -dot- com>
To: "Techwr-l List (techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com)" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 21 Jan 2014 22:27:44 +0000

I'm fighting a battle for about the fourth or fifth time here, and I could use some studies or documentation to support my point.

To make a long story short (and those of you who know me know how difficult this is), we're using printed manuals because that's what the customers prefer. When we roll out a variation of a product, if the variation is significant enough to change the operator's workflow or significantly changes the GUI, I issue a new manual (new part number) keyed to that product variation.

There is a program manager here who feels that the best way to handle these variations is to stick an appendix or addendum at the end of the baseline manual, and let the user flip pages. (The actual truth, which he has admitted, is that if we only had one manual to cover all of the product variations, his paperwork level would be smaller and he would prefer that.)

I'm sure that someone has done some scholarly work analyzing reductions in usability and readability when new data is shoved into an appendix, and perhaps even the impact on safety.

Can anyone point me in the right direction?


Rick Lippincott, Technical Writer
American Science and Engineering, Inc. | www.as-e.com  
829 Middlesex Turnpike | Billerica, MA 01821 USA | Fax +1-978-262-8702
Office +1-978-262-8807 | rlippincott -at- as-e -dot- com

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