“”This foraging behavior is not exclusive to the Web, of course. John Carroll saw the
same behavior in his research subjects using paper manuals.
Learners also often skip over crucial material if it does not address their current
task-oriented concerns or skip around among several manuals, composing their
own ersatz instructional procedures on the fly.
—The Nurnberg Funnel[8, p. 8]””
This quote is taken from the introduction to Chapter 1 in the book, “Every Page is Page One”. How apt it is! I do this very thing and skim through a manual trying to find how to do a particular task, and get frustrated when it isn’t there. Then I have to go back and read it again to find what I missed. Of course, many times what I’m looking for isn’t there anyway, but until I do read it I don’t know that. Either scenario is frustrating. Even on the web, sometimes I find it incredibly hard to find something on the website that I’m looking for.
I have learned from this book, and one of the most important thing is to make sure people can find the information I’m writing about by treating each page as if it is page one. I suppose I never stopped to think that deeply about it. But then it’s rather hard to have each important point to be the first sentence. However, I can make use of white space and create snippets to the side of the documents which will tend to hi-light information, similar to how the book is written.
If you write technical manuals, either hard copy or web copy, this book can really help you. It helps by giving you a ‘window’ into how your readers use the material. I skim, even when I search for something, but then I click on a link and I skim again, when not finding it, I will slow down and actually search for the word on the page. Click back or close the tab and move on to the next. I love to read and I’m an avid reader and I love to learn, but I just don’t have to search the whole manual to find two sentences that tell me how to do something I’m trying to do. Little snippets, and especially either a table of contents or an index will be most helpful.
I appreciate the work the author has put into this book, and I have learned from it. Now if I can just remember how to place little snippets in my work. LOL.
I highly recommend this book to others, regardless of which kind of writing you do.
Link product title to this URL: http://shop.oreilly.com/product/9781937434298.do