Should the Answer to a User Question be a Short or a Long Topic?

In pursuit of the ultimate techCom information architecture

A user asks questions when stuck in product use. Displaying information-seeking behavior, they search for answers; and it’s you—the technical communicator—who is responsible for providing them with one. But then you get stuck as you ask yourself: how long should the answer be? As the question of topic size, (as in a DITA topic), continues to be controversial in the technical communication community, we also need to ask ourselves how the size of an answer relates to the size of a topic. My conclusion is that users prefer short answers. Why is this? And how do we make short answers findable? This post, part two in the article series Designing for the searching user, provides insight into how to design next generation technical communication. Read more... Focus Areas: BPEL | DITA | ebXML | IDtrust | OpenDocument | SAML | UBL | UDDI
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