I write lots of documentation. It’s what I do. If I can’t automate something for a client, or make it any easier, I attempt to write the cleanest, clearest, most concise documentation possible. I use screenshots, arrows, highlighting, I’ll even do a quick screencast to show how to do something. I make documents that have hyperlinks to other documents if there are edge cases. I leave few to no stones unturned.
However, it invariably happens.
“How do I turn the dial on the frobnosticator?”
“Uh oh, did it not work like in the help document?”
“No, nothing is like it shows in the PDF / wiki / whatever!”
“Well, okay, at which point in the instructions did it break, because depending on…”
“Nothing is working. Nothing.”
“So, the document that explains…”
“IT’S NOT WORKING NOTHING IS THE SAME THE INSTRUCTIONS WERE WRONG!!!”
Checks system in question.
“Yeah, see this wingding? See the page here? The page says to wobble the wingding, so I just wobbled the wingding and it’s working.”
Hey, I get it. I’ve been there. I’ve had manuals that were too verbose to crawl through cover to cover, with poor indexes and appendices. That’s what support contracts are for! You just send an email in to support with your questions, and BAM! You’ve got an answer.
Just make sure that if you do that, it’s the exception, not the rule. Unless the support contract is heinously expensive (EMC), in which case, send in all your “How do I computer?” questions.