Hardware Documentation versus Software Documentation
A colleague of mine asked me recently what the difference between hardware documentation and software documentation is. At first my answer was “Very little, if any."
But some days later this question again came to my mind, and I started to list the main topics involved in both types of documents.
After completing the list, I set up a matrix to assist my colleague and me in sorting out the main topics, which could help to organize the workflow to start a new writing project.
THE DOCUMENTATION MATRIX
3D visuals are the next logical step in documenting mechanical assemblies for setup, maintenance and training. 3D visuals convert static printed pages to dynamic 3D presentations.
This matrix can be adapted to each writing project to determine which topics apply and which resources are required to complete the document. The resources have to be checked in advance.
If you need assistance with any of the topics listed in this matrix, you may contact us at
04-8336435 or via our website www.tehnicalcom.co.il.
Beyond the User Guide
Varying post-sale requirements and the intensive use of the internet have changed the customer support landscape.
If users cannot figure out how to use something, they will be dissatisfied with their purchase.
Users’ experience working with sophisticated advanced applications and devices shows that:
providing the user guide alone is not always
sufficient to introduce the user to the product!
To ensure client satisfaction and future sales, a more innovative approach should be applied.
A variety of tools and an integrated approach to customer support may be required to implement an effective, winning deployment that ensures that your client understands all this new information.
Consider the limits of the human working memory!
Studies have found that people learn better when
information is broken up into digestible pieces.
A new approach can be adopted which goes beyond just the User Guide:
¨ Quick Guides
¨ Formal Training Sessions
¨ Review Questions and Assessment Tests
¨ Help Systems
¨ The Web
¨ Integrated Approach
Each knowledge approach contains the same core content but the structure of each is unique. The use of the various types of documentation systems depends on what is relevant to the users’ learning objectives and which one meets their needs.
These provide the minimum of essential information required to start working on the application or device.
Formal Training Sessions
Surveys show that users absorb new information when they are introduced bit-by-bit to the application or device and are actively engaged in the training session!
A well-designed formal training session using multimedia training aids can simplify the process of knowledge transfer and practice.
Review Questions and Assessment Tests
Review questions and assessments at the end of the training are mainly useful for checking information retention and for evaluation purposes.
A “Help” system provides an almost-instantaneous context-sensitive answer or solution to the user’s immediate question or problem.
The www has changed the way information transfer is utilized. The user is connected more of the time and can instantly obtain online information as needed.
Given the dramatic changes in information access brought about by the internet, such information can be provided at the company website or via a special training portal.
Users, through search engines and other help systems, can find answers which often can better assist them than printed user guides.
In an integrated approach, in the initial phase information is pushed to the user by presenting the user guide and organizing traditional training sessions.
Once the user starts working with the system, relevant information can be pulled at any time by using the online help or connecting to the training portal. In this way, the user has access to, and draws from, all the content at any point of a procedure.
A well-organized training portal can be updated on a regular basis any time a technical change is introduced or a new product version is offered, and is available 24/7. This gives the user ultimate support at any stage of any procedure. Mobile users can access the training portal anytime and anywhere when they need on-the-job assistance.
Starting to use a program or system efficiently and in the most satisfactory way is very important to the company.
Better learning and absorption means more involvement, return and significantly less service calls.