Chapter 16

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Good instructions make for good software.
Bad instructions make for bad software.
This is because "good" or "bad" is primarily an issue of the quality of the user experience.*

I use a drawing program that I won't name because I don't want to promote it. It has a whole bunch of "tools" that you use to make things happen in your drawing. Each of these tools has a name. If you search the tool name in the help files, you won't get a hit, you won't find it.

How stupid is that? Some menu or rollover or help article mentions the "Fleegle Tool" or "use the Fleegle Tool", and you search Help for "Fleegle Tool" and get no results.

When you produce a product that is sufficiently complex that it needs a help file, every name of every feature, every term on the screen that you do the work on, every entry on every menu and every part of that product should, if searched for, produce a result when it is searched for in the Help file.

And, of course, the manufacturer should monitor the help lines and forums to determine what questions come up. Whenever a question comes up, especially if it comes up repeatedly, that means that the instruction -- or the design of the product in that particular aspect -- is inadequate. And the manufacturer should repair the inadequacy as soon as possible.


* I am way about quality of experience. It's the only thing.