Saturday, 12 December 2009

The pleasure of clearity

I've been sending my resume abroad, to be more specific to Swedish companies. I run into some job offers that, in my mind, seemed to match my current qualifications. Unfortunately, they, politely sent me back an email saying my qualifications do not meet our needs/profile. What a bummer!! . Anyway, aside from these dismal responses :( what I want to empathize here it's their efficiency. Even if they are not interested in my application they reply to my job submission. In this way you don't fuel faint hopes, make pipe dreams and I think it's the correct and serious behaviour that a company should have. In Italy, generally, the human resource managers contact you only if they want to interview you...

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Stop writring guide, it's time for Video Guide !

In my role as IT consultant, one of my tasks is to write user guides for our products. It' s really boring, useless and it sucks definitely! at least when my chief says to me: please write the guide, I brace myself !

Why is it boring ?
Because you have to spell out every step that you take in order to make things run. You can't omit anything, to write it as comprehensible as it is possible is an asset , otherwise the end-user can't make it out!
You have to care about the details, take several snapshots hopefully none of your colleagues change the front-end in the meantime.
Why is it useless?
In my brief experience, I've run into several users that simply ignore the guide or skim through it. The final result is that they will contact you in anyway is possible and ask you for an explanation. Please do not ask them have you read the guide ? the obvious answer is no or they stammer to say something " I didn't find it".
Why does it suck?
if the reader has never written any guide, please try it just once and I'm pretty sure you'll agree with me.
Then what can we do ? I realized that we might pin down on video-guide. People have changed the way they interact with media over last years, generally there is no time to read a paragraph, sometimes the instructions are not clear, misleading and not up to date.
Why not use video-guides? End users, nowadays, are familiar with Youtube, they are accustomed to see short movies and probably they can get the information in much easier, more quickly and funnier way !!
With a video-guide it's very hard that they do not understand, images and voices can drive them to explore all the features of your products.
To produce a video-guide is simpler than writing one, I suppose it saves time (therefore it implies your company saves $$$). Some problems arise, of course. You shall guarantee that the user has installed on his computer a video-player, but it's not a big problem because you can provide it with your user guides. Maybe the toughest thing is to keep your video-guide up to date. Sometimes we need to update only a few lines or change some screenshot, how can we do it with a video ? I do not think it's easy to replace a frame with a new one.
Now I want to read your comments.
As user guide do you find a video-guide more handy than a written one?
As technical writer would you replace the traditional user-guide with a video guide ?


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