I’m directing this at all IT vendors – your job is enable me. Enable me to work, enable me to sell, enable me to speak with authority on your products.
It’s the same story, regardless of whether I’m a system integrator, a solutions architect, a support consultant or a customer.
Regardless of what my role, I want – I need – vendors to enable me to do my work. If they want to sell their hardware, or their software, or their services, I need to be convinced, and I need to be informed.
So what happens when I go to genericvendor.com/support, and want to pull down all the documentation for a specific product?
…click to download the install guide
…click to download the admin guide
…click to download the command reference guide
…click to download the error guide
…click to download the release notes
And so on, and so forth. It’s a click-hell – and for so many vendors, it’s not even one-click per document. It’s multiple clicks. If I want to learn about product X I might have to download 10, 20, 30 documents, and go through the click-hell with each document.
Some vendors offer download managers. It’s a bit of a clueless response – “It’s a problem, we’ll introduce ANOTHER download into the equation for you!”
There’s a simple solution though: zip. Or tar.gz*. That’s your download manager.
You’re a vendor, you have more than 2 documents for a product? Give me a zip file of all the documents. It should be as simple as:
Login > Click Support > Click Product > Download all docs…
(And that’s assuming you want people to be logged in before they access your documentation.)
Of course, that may mean I’ll get more documents than I need. I may not need to know how to integrate AS400 systems with your FCoE storage product over a WAN. But here’s the thing: I’ll accept that some of what I download in that consolidated zip file is dross, and I won’t complain about it, so long as I can download it all in one hit.
Oh, and when I open that zip file and unpack all the documents? Have them named properly, not by serial number or part number of some internal version of ISBN or Dewy-Decimal or some indecipherable 30 random-character filename dreamed up by your document management system that not only achieved sentience, but also went insane on the same day. If it’s an administration guide for product X version Y, call it “Product X Version Y Administration”, or something logical like that. That way my first act after downloading your documentation isn’t a tedious: “Preview > Find Title > Close Preview > Rename File > Type new Filename”. Even on a Mac, with excellent content based search capabilities, having a logical filename makes data so much easier to find.
It’s not much to ask for.
For goodness sakes, it’s so logical that I shouldn’t even need to ask.
Do you want me to know about your product, or not?
PS: Regrettably I’ve not had much opportunity to blog recently. My RSI has been particularly savage of late.
* If you suggest “.7z” or “.rar”, I will smack you.