I came across this thoughtful post about how important it is to understand what your customer (e.g. developer) needs specially when it comes to documentation of software development tools/frameworks and make sure they get the idea quickly in 5 minutes or less.
As a developer I think its really important that any documentation, video tutorial or even sample application you provide to the user be very basic and easy to understand and even fun whilst covering the fundamental concepts that need to be conveyed. This should be the starting place for the user and get him/her interested to learn more. When documentation, tutorials, sample apps are too complicated it tends to scare the developer away from using such tools/frameworks.
This is probably why the proverbial “Hello World” program became so popular, it gives the developer who is learning a new language the chance to get off the ground and try things out in quick time!
The 5 minute rule sums it up nicely…
So here is my 5 minute rule – make sure your site and documentation can provide some initial idea of what problems you solve in less than 5 minutes.
Make sure that for the most common problems the solution (including examples or better yet cookbook style recipe) is no father than 5 minutes away.
Otherwise you are just not competitive with the projects (which by the way may be less technologically advanced) that do provide those answers. Take a look at the success of Spring Framework.
Take a look at the success of Ruby on Rails when they took the world by storm using that video of creating a blog application in under 15 minutes. They did it despite the many technological problems that they had (like native threads and performance). This is really fast world. Help yourself by helping me quickly. Otherwise no one will care.
So even if you are developer who is developing some really cool (a.k.a sophisticated) tool or framework make sure that you “HelloWorld”d it with easy to understand documentation, sample app or video tutorial!