User Documentation...Customer Setup or Up Set?

Monday 25 January 2010

6pm for 6.30pm

Richard Hodgkinson

Southampton Solent University, Herbert Collins Building, ground floor, room HC 029 | Directions and maps at

Joint with the BCS Hampshire Branch, BCS Quality SG and Southampton Solent University.

This event is free, open to all, but please book through the BCS website, both for BCS members and non-members for arranging refreshments.

Anyone who uses application software needs accurate information about how the software will help the user accomplish a task. The documentation may be the first tangible item that the user sees and therefore influences the user’s first impressions of the software product. If the information is supplied in a convenient form and is easy to find and understand, the user can quickly become proficient in the product. Consequently, well-designed documentation not only assists the user and helps reduce the cost of training and support, but also enhances the reputation of the product, its producer and suppliers.

Although software developers aim to design user interfaces that behave so intuitively that very little separate documentation is needed, this is rarely possible. User documentation remains an essential component of usable software products.

Documentation is often regarded as something done after the software has been implemented. However, for high-quality software documentation, its development should be regarded as an integral part of the software life cycle process. If done properly, documentation or information management is a big enough job to require process planning in its own right.

ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 7/WG 2 is part of the joint ISO and IEC Sub Committee 7, which develops international standards for software and systems engineering. SC 7 standards include life cycle management, software testing, process assessment, quality management, software asset management, services management, IS governance and documentation. Since 1988 Working Group 2 has produced standards that address the design, management and process of developing documentation. These standards are now being revised and consolidated to address today’s needs of designers, developers, purchasers, testers, acquirers and managers of software documentation. In addition WG 2 is currently revising ISO/IEC 15289:2006 (Content of systems and software life cycle information products (Documentation)) and has recently started the development of a new standard to address user documentation for software developed in an Agile environment.

Richard will talk about these standards, how they can benefit you, your customers and users. His presentation will also include other useful standards for software developers (e.g. icons, usability and accessibility), the work of WG 2, the development of international standards, why they are necessary and how you can get involved.

Richard Hodgkinson is a Fellow of the Institute of Scientific and Technical Communicators and Convenor of international standards working group ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 7/WG 2 – Systems and Software Documentation. He graduated from Southampton College of Art in 1999 and worked for IBM at Hursley Park for between 1970 and 2004, his final responsibilities whilst working in the User Technologies department, including corporate standards and software accessibility.

Since 1990 he has represented the UK (via the British Standards Institution), Sweden and the USA on several ISO committees developing standards for icons, symbols, ergonomics, accessibility and documentation and serving as project editor on nine ISO ICT standards.  

He has also worked for the European Telecommunications Standards Institute in Sophia Antipolis, on two Specialist Task Forces addressing ICT accessibility.
He is also an associate lecturer to the MA in Technical Communications course at the University of Portsmouth.

Presentation - Richard Hodgkinson (PDF - 2Mb)