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Create expanded definitions.

Even a glossary can define terms generously.

Customers sometimes seek a lot of answers in the glossary, because they cannot find the information elsewhere. If you are already using objects, you can put together expanded definitions, to help out.

Think of all the questions that people come up with when you are trying to define a complex idea.

  • What category does this idea belong to, and how is it different from other things in that category?
  • What does this thingamajig do?  Give me a definition that focuses on action, not theory--a functional definition.
  • How is this idea like or unlike these other terms that, to the innocent eye, seem similar?
  • Can you give me a diagram, or a graphic, so I can see what this looks like?
  • What are the pieces of this thing?
  • How does it work, or operate?
  • Tell me a story.  Tell me who, when, where, why, and how.
  • Could you give me a real-life example?  Tell me what the situation is, at the beginning, sketching out the scenario.  Then tell me what the heroine did.  And don't stop there.  Tell me what the payoff was, what happened.  Give me the complete story.
  • Could you tell me where to go for more information? 

Few topics would demand answers to all of these questions.  But if you think about it, for a particular concept, many of these questions come up, in ordinary conversation. 

Here, then, is a pattern for an extended definition, with every possible component, at least for now.


Creating customer assistance that actually helps, from Hot Text: Web Writing that Works (2002, PDF, 993K, or about 18 minutes at 56K)


Exactly what is the concept?


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