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I, like the audience for which I write (sys admins), am impatient and
I jump right in and get to work. I generally only read manuals when I'm
However, when I have a Quick Start available (as a small, separate
I'll skim it before I start working. It's small and manageable. I can
read it and do some tasks and feel like I've accomplished something in
order. If it's a chapter in a manual, I usually won't bother -- I, for
feel that because it's part of a several-hundred-page manual, it will
We found out that our users reacted the same way. We had a separate
guide. Then we combined it with the User's Guide. Our customers yelled.
info, but it's "usefulness" factor dropped through the ground. We
as a separate guide -- they take the time to learn to do some simple
correctly and save our tech support folks some time.
We actually have two versions of the Quick Start now. One is for web
customers who have downloaded our product and want to give it a whirl
wading through hundreds of pages of docs. The other is for actual
cover a standard installation, basic configuration, and some simple
tasks that let
them accomplish a small sample of what they want to do. They are well
time and effort for our audience.
Senior Technical Writer
Seagate Software mailto:alexiap -at- sems -dot- com
>From: Rikk Hallowell [SMTP:rikk -at- COGNEX -dot- COM]
>Sent: Thursday, August 21, 1997 9:56 AM
>To: TECHWR-L -at- LISTSERV -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU
>Subject: Quick Start sections.
>I'm interested in opinions on "Quick Start" sections - a section near
>the beginning of a book where the reader follows detailed instructions
>in order to accomplish some simple tasks with the software. It's
>understood that the reader doesn't necessarily grasp the process, but is
>able to see what can be done and how the major pieces of the interface
>work together. Detailed chapters describing how to use the software
>We're debating on whether to write (or whether *I'll* write) a Quick
>Start section for some brand-new software we're producing.
>Rikk "rikk -at- cognex -dot- com"
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