Why Users Don’t Read Help

In the ten years that we’ve been developing Dr.Explain, a leading-edge tool for creating help files, we saw hundreds of our customers’ projects.

Our technical support team mostly receives user documentation for software products with requests to help implement some tricks. When talking with our customers, we ask them all kinds of questions about their projects, business areas, products, and audiences.

Based on that experience, we can draw a lot of conclusions, including this one: Users do read user documentation. In many cases, users frequently consult with such documentation. In some projects, it is a vital component of the product or services.

However, sometimes people do not use user documentation. In most cases, the reasons are as follows:

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260+ Random Facts About User Assitance (UA) and User Experience (UX)

Just a plain list of interesting fact …

  1. 60% of interactions with Search fail. [*]
  2. Translation is a young profession with nearly half of professionals (48%) in their thirties. [*]
  3. Dropbox, a cloud-based service that lets you easily access your content from any device, claims 45 million customers. [*]
  4. The USA has more personal computers than the next 7 countries combined. [*]
  5. Approximately 40% of browsers support HTML5 at present (Nov,2011), which may reach to 800+ million audiences. [*]
  6. Pharma and medical device companies distrust certificates of accuracy and ISO certifications, relying more heavily on sample translations to assess quality. [*]
  7. Users often gravitated to the search engine when the links on the page didn’t satisfy them in some way. [*]
  8. China’s software and IT services industry grew 32.4 percent in revenue in 2011. [*]
  9. Companies that offer translation services in many languages receive 67.46 percent of the client’s total volume. [*]
  10. Ireland has ingredients to become world leader in technical writing. [*]
  11. The font Courier is a librarian favorite and used by data entry companies as well. [*]
  12. Read the rest of 260+ Random Facts About User Assitance (UA) and User Experience (UX) »

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Why Code Quality Matters for a Product-Oriented Software Company

Recently I had a conversation with my colleague about the performance and primary focus of the Dr.Explain development team. What should go first: the number of new features or the quality of architecture and of source code?

I agree that the number of new functions and features in a software product is very important for attracting new customers and improving customer loyalty, especially in the very beginning.

When you’re releasing a pilot version of your software, your main objective is to verify and test your business idea. Time to market is very important, so you may focus on the key functions and features of your product while not investing a lot of efforts in good architecture design and code quality.

If your idea works and if you are serious about developing your product in the forthcoming years, you’ll probably have to throw out your pilot version and rework it almost from scratch, this time paying attention to code quality and clearness, smart project structure, and scalable architecture.
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Does your price table design help your software sales?

I’m sure you’re constantly improving all aspects of your business like we do: adding new features to products, experimenting with prices, changing your logo and web site design, polishing user interface, tweaking AdWords ads and landing pages. This is a good strategy. It’s called Kaizen.

Let’s discuss one more element of software sales funnel – price table. Price table is a final element your customers see before making order decisions. It mostly depends upon the price table how many customers will proceed to order form and enter credit their card number. So, it’s very important to compose your price table properly.

I’d like to tell you about a real experiment with our own price table.

We produce and sell Dr.Explain, software for making on-line manuals, help files, and user guides.
We offer two types of licenses with different function set: Regular and Advanced. Also we offer discounted multi-license packages. Moreover, we offer upgrades from Regular to Advanced license for every package.

So, our old price table looked like this:

Old price table
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Posted in GUI Marketing Presentation Website by Dennis Crane. 3 Comments

Christmas and New Year ideas for independent software vendors (ISV)

Add an “Easter egg” feature into your software

Your users will be pleasantly surprised when your application unexpectedly congratulates them and wishes them a Merry Christmas or Happy New Year. This may be a specially decorated splash screen or logo graphics, funny animation, music, or video with your wishes to your users. For instance, VLC Media player puts up a red Christmas hat icon as an Easter egg in 2009 festive season.
Moreover, you may hide this secret feature deep in the application interface and hold a contest on your website with prizes for those who will find the “Easter egg” feature first.
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Posted in Marketing Presentation Specials by Dennis Crane. 1 Comment

Entrepreneurship Matters!

Have you ever thought about starting your own business? Do you run your own business already? No matter if it’s a barbershop around the corner, a technical writing service, a software development company, or a huge corporation with hundreds of employees. Finally, it’s all about entrepreneurship.

For me, entrepreneurship means using my skills to help other people to solve their problems. In the same time, I often have to solve problems of my business and turn them into opportunities.

Surprisingly, competition, finances, suppliers, and management aren’t real problems in many cases. Often, there is a main problem in the way we think and behave. Every successful business comes from founder’s heart and is driven by his or her entrepreneurship spirit.

What is a real entrepreneurship spirit?
Who is intrapreneur?
What skills and personal qualities will set you apart from other entrepreneurs and competitors?
How to keep your mental, psychological, and physical health and not to become a slave to money?
How did the Internet impact on entrepreneurship?

Sooner or later, all entrepreneurs ask themselves similar questions. Keith Johnson gives answers to many questions about entrepreneurship in his new e-book “Entrepreneurship Matters! For 2012 And Beyond”.

This book is a great collection of real business stories, inspirational thoughts, and deep reasoning. Keith’s ideas aren’t citations from MBA theory textbooks. They are proved by many years of his experience. As a documentation specialist, he has been working with many businesses ranging from individual entrepreneurs to big companies. Documentation writing gives insight to the nature of business – its structure, problems, communications, achievements, and people. Such expertise is worth a lot. Fortunately, Keith is a very open person who loves to share his knowledge with other people. So, today we have a lucky chance to read this excellent book.

Check it out at LuLu: “Entrepreneurship Matters! For 2012 And Beyond”

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Posted in Blogroll Miscellaneous Productivity by Dennis Crane. No Comments