Thinking outside the book

November 18, 2009

Recently, I was assigned the task of taking our technical information to the next level. Our development team is working on a kick-butt new product, so instead of producing the usual PDF manual, the team decided to instead design a whole user experience.  Help is embedded directly into the interface and appears as both context-sensitive HTML topics and brief video segments that illustrate the steps in the topics. The videos were uploaded to YouTube and linked to their respective topics, and a Google Group established to provide customers with a place to share their experiences, get peer help, and offer suggestions for improving the product.

This has been quite a roller-coaster ride, true baptism-by-fire.  I had to (re)learn HTML basics to correct formatting problems, research the differences among various video compression utilities to output a format suitable for YouTube, while tracking all my efforts so I can train the rest of our team.

I’m excited for beta to start because I can’t wait to collect customer comments.  I’ve always found it a challenge to get useful feedback on documentation quality. I hope the ways we’ve incorporated the latest social technologies into this product will encourage customers to speak up.  Though that will open up a whole new area to manage, I’m excited about finally having the technology to reach out directly to real users .



  1. That sounds awesome, Patty! Will the YouTube videos and/or other parts of the project be publicly visible? Let us know when the beta starts, so that we can take a look. 🙂

  2. Yes, the videos are public on YouTube now and the beta site is in the works. Go to arcserve.com and look for announcements about CA ARCserve D2D.

    There’s so much to learn. I’m enjoying every minute of this.

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