New Tech-Support Resource: Reviewer's Guides?
As I was making yet another futile attempt to clean the accumulation of paper off my desk earlier this week, I noticed how much of those printed products were the reviewer's guides that tech publicists usually hand out to critics.
I have long ignored these documents while writing a review, simply because you, the user, don't get any such help from the company when you're trying to use the product. But it finally hit me yesterday that maybe these companies ought to post these documents where their customers, not just their reviewers, could consult them.
A reviewer's guide is not an infallible resource; it will always put the best possible spin on a product's features (unless somebody in PR slips up). But it can provide a much clearer explanation of what the hardware or software does, and how to get to these functions and features, than its own interface or manual may include. See, for instance, this quick description of how to write one.
And unlike most manuals, a reviewer's guide will also normally be generously illustrated with screenshots, showing precisely where to click to do this and that. Here are a few examples of the genre:
* Google posts PDFs all of its reviewer's guides on a single page
* Here's Opera's reviewer's guide for its latest browser
* Microsoft occasionally posts these documents too; see, for instance, the guides for its Windows Live software and services (all in Word format)
Take a look at some of these and let me know if they were of any help in using the stuff they're trying to sell. Do you think it would help if more companies posted these documents for public consumption?
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