Installation Directions

These really have to work. If you possibly can, make the installation of your program bulletproof. You'd be amazed how many fail at this first, most important hurdle.

Get the program to do almost all the work it can. Ask the users yes or no questions and nothing more challenging than filling in the storage locations, license agreement, e-mail address, and name. Explain what is happening as loading progresses and tell them how long each sequence usually takes.

Give them a contact number, in case they need help. If it is not practicable to automate initial program loading, make your log-on directions very simple. Break the task down into easy bites. Do not take the understanding of any technical expression for granted. Define each term before you use it. Explain what the program is doing as loading progresses. Show them exactly what the screen should look like at each stage. Explain anything tricky or novel in several ways so the user can get the hang of what you mean and check that his understanding is correct. As soon as loading is complete, tell the user precisely what he needs to begin using your program.

Once you have got a seemingly reasonable set of directions together, try them out on strangers. See if they can follow them. Watch their reactions where possible to establish at what point they are meeting difficulties. Embody their queries in a revised set of instructions. Then try the fuller and better version on another panel of strangers. Repeat these revisions until you get 100 percent comprehension.

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