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Sunday, May 28, 2006

Flowers and Usability


Thoughts after reading a part of the user manual of Sony Ericsson K750i cell phone.

A panorama image taken with Sony Ericsson K750i.

Weekend flowers on my window sill.

Flowers

Sony Ericsson should have given an example of a photograph in their documentation to make it an interesting read, instead of a few plain lines that say Camera Menu provides different Shoot Mode options and various Effects.

Why is documentation always boring? Does it have to be? Shouldn't a manual be written for the User? Shouldn't it engage a user? Does it always have to be in black and white? Why is a Camera cell phone promoted without showing an actual picture in the manual?

If people get what they're looking for with documentation they would prefer to read it. Let the documentation be an A4-size book instead of a pocketbook, spend some money in printing, but make it worth reading.

Why does the advertisement look so slick and the documentation so drab? Shouldn't writing be joyful? Is it necessary for technical documentation to be always dull?

"Shoot Mode: Normal, Panorama, Frames, and Burst."

How about showing how each image looks in different Shoot Modes? Why not give examples of the funny frames in the cell phone and the humour it adds to images that can be shared with family and friends.

Had these thoughts after reading the Shoot Mode features of K750i from the pocketbook black and white documentation of the camera cell phone.

What's the use of writing that people won't like to read? How do we make Technical Writing beautiful? To borrow a football analogy, it's time to do a 'Jogo Bonito' (play beautiful) on technical writing (write beautiful).

Technical writing is like the defence of Italy's 1990 football World Cup team—solid, dull, drab, and boring, which meets with its own downfall. Italy played an ultra-defensive game and lost to Argentina on penalties in the semi-finals of the 1990 world cup and the bane of penalties followed Italy in the 1994 and 1998 World cups.

It's a manual, it's documentation so it has to be dull and boring. Let's change that mindset. Let's write beautiful. Let's try.