User Centred Documentation

I bring an excerpt of this article to you courtesy of Tom Johnson, as I think it brings to you opinions from other technical writers around the world to help expose new trends and also supports my own documentation framework approach. You may view the original article here.

Origins of user-centred documentation

User-centred documentation stems from user-centred design. With user-centred design, designers usually study their users in depth as they design products. Designers may do any of the following to get a better understanding of users:

  • Observe users in their own environment
  • Do task analysis to define the steps users take
  • Storyboard user workflows and goals
  • Do A/B testing with prototypes
  • Create personas that represent typical users
  • Gather feedback in usability labs, and more

The goal of user-centred design is to create a product that users love. Continue reading “User Centred Documentation”

Deepening documentation’s value by simplifying complexity

Value arguments for docs and tech comm

I bring an excerpt of this article to you courtesy of Tom Johnson, as I think it adds relevance to what I am setting out to achieve with my documentation framework. You may view the original article here.

SUMMARY: Technical writers can also deepen the value of the documentation they create by focusing on areas of complexity to users. Complexity not only involves articulating the “string theory” parts of a system but also formulating the content in a way that users, regardless of their level, can understand. The task of simplifying complexity can only be achieved by leveraging many perspectives across groups; thus, focusing on simplifying complexity will also achieve goals around enabling information flow and improving the customer experience.

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16 Reasons Why Your Users Do Not Read User Documentation

I bring this article to you courtesy of Dennis Crane, as I think it adds relevance to what I am setting out to achieve with my documentation framework. You may view the original article here.

 

Nobody reads help files!

Are you sure?

In the ten years that we’ve been developing Dr.Explain, a leading-edge tool for creating help files, we saw hundreds of our customers’ projects. Our technical support team mostly receives user documentation for software products with requests to help implement some tricks. When talking with our customers, we ask them all kinds of questions about their projects, business areas, products, and audiences.
Based on that experience, we can draw a lot of conclusions, including this one: Users do read user documentation. In many cases, users frequently consult with such documentation. In some projects, it is a vital component of the product or services.

However, sometimes people do not use user documentation. In most cases, the reasons are as follows.

Continue reading “16 Reasons Why Your Users Do Not Read User Documentation”

The changing nature of content

I bring this article to you courtesy of Ellis Pratt, as I think it adds relevance to what I am setting out to achieve with my documentation framework. You may view the original article here.

Technology has changed enormously over the last 70 years. But have technical communication standards kept up sufficiently to reflect these changes? It appears that some of the most successful software companies are breaking generally accepted best practice in technical writing – a trend that clearly should get us thinking.

If you were going back in time twenty or twenty five years and found yourself in a classroom learning about technical writing, you’d probably find it was almost identical to classes on this subject offered today. Technical communicators tend to assume that technical communication best practices, which have been taught for the past 25 years, and even further back in time, are still appropriate today.

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Ten things Clients should know about Technical Writing

I bring this article to you courtesy of Ron C Johnson, as I think it adds relevance to what I am setting out to achieve with my documentation framework. You may view the original article here.

As you might expect, technical writing is not just about writing. Certainly writing is a core skill, but depending on the job, the industry, and the purpose of the writing, a technical writer may wear many hats. Often tech writers’ responsibilities touch on editing, graphics, photography, formatting, marketing, training, designing, and document management/control, just to name a few. Continue reading “Ten things Clients should know about Technical Writing”

Standard Operating Procedures

I bring this article to you courtesy of Marcia Weedon, as I think it adds relevance to what I am setting out to achieve with my documentation framework. You may view the original article here.

THE WELL WRITTEN SOP – CRITICAL FOR CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT BY MARCIA WEEDEN

The well-written SOP provides the baseline against which thoughtful and effective improvements can be planned and implemented.

Many companies put off documenting their processes and procedures because they are too sheepish to admit that these are not yet in a state of perfection. Perfection, however, is never a requirement for the well-written SOP.

Continue reading “Standard Operating Procedures”

How your customers feel about the user assistance your company provides.

I have posted this opinion poll so that software developers and users may gain an understanding of the myth that abounds in software and product development and marketing that “No one reads the manual” and alerting you to the fact that skimping on technical documentation can cost money

I bring this article to you courtesy of Sharon Burton, as I think it adds enormous pertinence to what I do. You may view the original article here.

This poll certainly supports the opinions I put forward in my previous article.

What is Rapid e-Learning?

There are plenty of definitions regarding Rapid e-Learning. A lot of them are variations of strange theories. But, I have only one definition:

“Rapid e-Learning is the development of learning courseware within a short timeline, which is achieved using basic templates which form a static framework and contains the learning content.”

This implies that not much time is spent on creating complex and pretty animations and interactions. There is debate aplenty in e-learning circles and many people may consider e-learning not valid unless it has a high level of interactivity, pulsing text and images and other bells and whistles, such as nonsensical games.  Anything less may be considered as boring click-and-read material. All this just adds extra time (lots of it) and extra expense.

It is easy to disguise poor instructional design with slick effects and animations.  However, a lot of this stuff  is neither necessary or effective and I believe all these repetitive flying, flashing texts and images can trigger extreme irritation.

What’s the difference between a technical communicator and a technical writer?

According to the United States Department of Labor (DOL), the official description, written years ago, of the technical writer’s responsibilities is the following:

“Write technical materials, such as equipment manuals, appendices, or operating and maintenance instructions. May assist in layout work.”

Today, communication covers much, much more. STC members do much, much more. Their work is dynamic and interactive. The old definition isn’t nearly broad enough.

Read the original article at http://www.stc.org/story/tc_tw.asp

Continue reading “What’s the difference between a technical communicator and a technical writer?”