What we catch in critical reviews and technical edits...

©Ed Wischmeyer, www.greatusermanuals.com

With our critical analysis skills, and being outsiders to your processes, we find things that can easily get past even the most diligent in-house reviews -- such as the examples below. Those examples can cost businesses customers, referrals, and the company's reputation.

We're incredibly fast and very thorough. This helps your team get an even better product out the door, to improve your customer satisfaction, to give you a competitive advantage, and to reduce your customer training and support costs.

What they wrote

What we observed

Creating contact sheets

"Contact sheets let you easily preview and catalog groups of images by displaying a series of thumbnails on a single page. You can automatically create and place thumbnails on a page using the Contact Sheet II command."
A picture of a contact sheet follows

From a well-known image processing application help system

 

  • They show a "contact sheet," but don't say what it is that makes it a "contact sheet." The picture has meaning only to those who already know what a contact sheet is.
  • What does the name mean? Where did it come from?
  • What are "contact sheets" good for?
  • What are the alternatives?
  • Where is the "Contact Sheet II" command? They don't even tell you where to find the command!!

Crop and slice tools

Picture of an abstract image with one quadrant selected.

"The Slice tool creates slices."

From a well-known image processing application help system

 

  • What is a "slice"? What does the name mean?
  • What is it used for?
  • What is similar to a slice? What else can do what a slice does?
  • Where is the "slice tool" located? They don't even tell you where to find the tool!!

"Current location"

From an aviation GPS receiver user manual.
  • The one and only standardized phrase in use is "present position." Users will not look for "current location" in an index because that's unnatural wording. It's like calling a "spare tire" an "emergency wheel."

"Rear cylinders often run hotter than front cylinders due to airflow over the engine."

From an online training course.
  • The real reason is that the rear cylinders get less cooling air than front cylinders -- but that's not what they said. If you already knew what they meant, you might not notice this poor writing, but if you didn't already know, this writing would not tell you.

Missing from the index -- terms the customer already knows.

From an online help system.

  • In this computer application, users make the program do what they want it to do by connecting "terminals" with "wires."
  • The words "connect" and "connector" do not appear in the index.
  • If a user doesn't remember that the correct word is "terminal," that user will not find the help they need.

Missing from the index -- a common technical term.

From an online help system.

  • One special kind of "terminal," in the example above, is called a "tunnel."
  • What is a tunnel? No reference to "tunnel" in the index refers the user to a definition or explanation. The help system leaves the user entirely on their own when they need help the most.

Rote memory required.

"You can also press U to select the rectangle tool, and then press Shift + U to switch from one shape tool to the next.."

From a text for a well-known image processing application.

  • How can a user remember the letter "U"? It's not even in the name of the tool.
  • Does any other tool name or function start with a "U", and that might make it harder to remember which tool is accessed with "U"?
  • The shift key works differently here than in other places. Is there a pattern? What pattern? Do I have to guess what that pattern is?