Study shows people use search to learn as well as to find facts

Researchers at Penn State University are claiming people don’t just use Search Engines to find facts – mostly, they’re using them to learn. Could this influence the way in which e-learning courseware is developed in the future? The researchers sought to discover the cognitive processes underlying searching. They examined the search habits of 72 participants while… Read more »

Open source survey reveals the value of community-based Help

Actuate’s August 2009 Open Source Survey reported users see community-based Help as one of the key benefits of adopting open source software. The benefits of adoption for the 1,500 respondents were: Community-based Help (33.2%) Access to source code (72.6%) Built on open platforms (63.9%) Scalability (57.2%) Flexibility (54.3%) Not locked into Microsoft (40.9%) Standards-based technology… Read more »

The “Google or Death?” choice for technical authors

July’s edition of Science magazine includes a study that shows scientific researchers are now more inclined to get their information from the Web (specifically, “quick and dirty” searches in Google) than from specialist scientific resources. If scientists are focusing on only a tiny bit of research – the bits served up by Google – what are typical users… Read more »

What should you include in your user documentation?

Technical authors are faced with limited time and resources, so they often are faced with the dilemma as to what to include and what to leave out of their user documentation. You may ask, if 80% read only 20% of the content, is there any value in documenting the rest? Technical Authors are often great… Read more »

Survey of UK Documentation Teams

We’ve completed interviewing the managers of UK documentation teams today. We estimate our survey covers 5% of the technical authors in the UK. This means we should have a representative sample size. The next step is to combine all the questionnaires, analyse the data and write the report. In our survey, we were particularly interested… Read more »