When Do People Use Documentation?

Remember the time you have got a new household electronics item (a microwave, an OTG, food processor, an electric cooker) or other gadgets like camera, ipod, smart phone, etc.  You usually spend some time with the product and its user manual trying to figure out how “it” works. Then you go back to it when you need to figure out how a certain feature functions or works.

The same applies to software manuals as well. Hence, we can say that manuals are usually used as reference material to understand a concept or product or to overcome the problem faced while using the product.

The users do not read the documentation before using the product. Nor do they read it in sequence, from start till the end. They use documentation as they use the product, especially when they:

  • Want to satisfy their knowledge.
  • Run into a problem when using the product.
  • Want to over come the problem and try for a work around.
  • Require information regarding a function/command to proceed with a given task.
  • Want to understand the theory behind the working of a certain functionality.
  •  Want to complete the task they are performing.

The sers outside the organization use documentation for making decisions. Those in the organization use the documents to track and maintain their own operation.

A Manuals Lament

– by Bob Moran 

I am a lonely manual. I sit upon the shelf.
I cannot help the user who will not help himself.

Sometimes I hear him dialing the help desk on the line,
and I want to cry out, Wait, the answers on page nine!

I try and try to tell them how friendly I can be,
but my voice is all but muffled by the plastic over me.

There are others up here with me clothed in this cellophane.
Our authors toiled long hours I wish it weren’t in vain.

Deep within our pages lies knowledge yet untapped.
You know that we could help you, if we weren’t so tightly wrapped.

Oh how I’d love to feel my binding against the desk,
my pages all uncovered, the plastic laid to rest.

The knowledge all exposed to the gaze of raptured
whose hungry search for knowledge cannot be disguised.

I’d work with them in unison to get the project done,
and then in quiet confidence wed start another one.

Oh, if only you’d expose my pages to your glance.
I’d give you so much knowledge, if you’d just give me a chance.


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