User interfaces and supporting documentation are both supposed to help people when using a complex device. But often, these forms of support seem to come from different worlds. User interface designers, document designers, and researchers in both interface and document design share many goals, but are also separated by many barriers.
In this book, user interface designers and documents designers from Microsoft Corporation and from Apple Computer, plus researchers from several universities try to bridge the gap between interface design and document design. They discuss opportunities for closer cooperation, and for more integrated and effective help for users of modern technology.
User manuals, reference guides, project documentation, equipment specifications and other technical documents are increasingly subjected to high quality standards. However, it is not clear whether research efforts are keeping pace with this increasing importance of documentation quality. This volume includes studies from researchers as well as practitioners, exemplifying three approaches towards document quality: • Product-orientation, with an eye for usability in various manifestations such as tutorials, concept definitions, tools for users of documentation to find information, methods of eliciting user feedback, and cultural differences; • Process-orientation, in which the quality of technical documentation is regarded as an outgrowth of a process involving sub-steps such as storyboarding, pre-testing and use of automation tools in writing and producing documents; • Professional orientation, in which attention is focused on those who create technical documentation. The volume will be of interest to a broad audience of writers, managers and trainers with technical and non-technical backgrounds, such as: quality managers; communication managers; technical communicators; trainers in computer usage; teachers, researchers and students of (technical) communication.