Re: "Tech Writing in the Age of Information Overload"

Subject: Re: "Tech Writing in the Age of Information Overload"
From: Mike Starr <mike -at- writestarr -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Wed, 08 Apr 2015 10:47:27 -0500

We also need to figure out a way to encourage our users to ask the right question. If they ask the wrong question, they may or may not get a "good enough" answer. Of course, task-based documentation with good topic titles (e.g., How do I...?) helps a lot if the users are aware that they're out there.

But the problem I always try to solve is when users of complex products need to drill down into details of options that aren't typically used in the most common tasks. That's where we need to provide reference-based documentation as well and make it easy for the user to find those nitty-gritty details. If our task-based documentation for complex products is emphasized, users will not feel quite overloaded with information but they still need the reference-based documentation to learn how to take advantage of advanced features. We need to make sure they're made aware that it's out there for them and that they know how to find what they need.

Best Regards,

Mike Starr, Writer
Technical Writer - Online Help Developer - WordPress Websites
Graphic Designer - Desktop Publisher - Custom Microsoft Word templates
(262) 694-1028 - mike -at- writestarr -dot- com -
President - Working Writers of Wisconsin

On 4/8/2015 7:30 AM, Kaylin Tristano wrote:

In library school we talked a lot about satisficing - the decision making model in which you keep searching for information only until you find an answer that's "good enough". There may be a better, more comprehensive answer out there, but this one suits your needs and you move on. That's why people rarely go beyond page 1 of Google search results, and it's a natural defense mechanism against information overload.

Writing for the end user, we just have to keep in mind that they're going to take the first answer that's "good enough" and organize our content in a way that makes the good enough answer also happen to be the right/best answer.

Kaylin Tristano | Quadax Technical Communication Specialist
Adobe TCS 5: Get the Best of both worlds: modern publishing and best in class XML \ DITA authoring |


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