December 12, 2010
Microsoft Outlook® User Manual Critique
The objective of this paper will be to evaluate Microsoft manual for Outlook®. According to Torkzadeh (1988), author of The Quality of User Documentation, “User documentation is an important tool for communications. It enhances the value of an application to the user and in turn, improves user satisfaction” (p. 99). When designing a manual Ganier (2007) suggests in his article, Comparative User-Focused Evaluation of User Guides, the strategy for a user manual should focus on 3 characteristics: format, structure, and its content. Ganier in his article also includes the criteria for measuring the quality and efficiency of the manual as, “attractiveness, practicality, simplicity, and efficiency”. The critique of the Outlook® user manual will not evaluate the criteria using a weighted score for each criteria on a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 is very bad and 5 is very good (Ganier, 2007). Instead, it will provide a written critique of the Outlook® user manual based upon Ganier’s identified characteristics and criteria. Assessment of the Design Strategy
The first characteristic of the Outlook® user e-manual is format. Since the Outlook® user manual is in electronic format or e-manual, it can be launched from the application by pressing the F1 key on the keyboard. The cognitive workload required to utilize the function of the e-manual is minimal. Structure, the second characteristic, refers to the layout of the information and how users access the information based upon their knowledge. New users will typically access the information linearly; in a step-by-step fashion whereas, more experienced users will access the information by function. There is no “Getting Started” section on the main menu with directed instruction for new users. The Outlook® manual is focused toward the experienced user, who would be searching for...