It is easy to assume that content is the only element users care about whenever they use a documentation. But such an assumption is absolutely far from reality. Design is one of the most crucial elements of any online documentation. A visually-appealing documentation such as a user guide that contains relevant images and have appropriate videos embedded in it alongside with fonts and theme that aligns with the website design is always visually appealing to users and more user-friendly!
Here are 5 easy tips for creating visually appealing online documentations that are user-friendly.
Millions of internet users across the globe are constantly searching for answers and solutions on the web via search engines. Google alone processes 3.5 billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide. These huge figures have not gone unnoticed across several companies and businesses who now do all they can to match their content with search engine queries.
But what about technical content such as helps and documentations? Should companies and technical writers post their online help systems to servers that can be accessed and indexed by search engines? And if they do, are there any benefits over other companies and writers who don’t? Let’s find out.
Online user guides and manuals are absolutely convenient for users because they can be accessed easily and almost anywhere. As such, online user guides and manuals must be written appropriately to make them effective and user-friendly. Unlike the print user guides and manuals, online manuals are often accessed via mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Although they aren’t restricted to such devices: learn more about the best formats to publish your help files. So what should you consider when writing online user guides and manuals? Let’s get back to the basics.
A user-friendly documentation is a winning documentation for any technical writer. But creating one can be tricky, especially if you’re writing for a diverse audience that cuts across locations and languages. Here are great technical writing principles that can guide you whenever you’re looking to write user-friendly help materials.
An effective software documentation helps the end users working with the software understand its features, functions, and how to perform specific tasks. For technical writers, the question is, how exactly can you achieve all these while writing for end users with very little or no technical knowledge? Let’s find out!
Would you love your website to look great with a stunning and richer user experience across all devices, platforms, and screen sizes? It’s easy to conclude that you need such a website because of smartphones and tablets users. Period. But you should look beyond the current devices and imagine future devices such as smartwatches, Google glass, virtual and augmented reality, or any other new devices tech experts may throw at us. Responsive websites and development will work for them too. Let’s see how important responsive HTML websites are.
The English language is one of the most widely used languages in technical writing. But the English language is complex - rich in idioms, verbal phrases, figure of speeches, synonyms, ambiguous words and terms that may confuse secondary speakers and even native speakers. This is one of the key reasons why some users don’t read help manuals. While documenting, almost every technical writer contends with the daunting task of communicating complex technical terms in very simple and easy-to-understand words, sentences, and instructions. In most cases, the technical writer’s effort is measured by user feedback. So to make technical documentations such as user manuals, help files, safety guides etc. easier to understand and user-friendly, the Aerospace and Defence Industries Association of Europe (ASD) developed Simplified Technical English (STE), otherwise known as the ASD-STE100 or the Thumbs-up technique.
The effectiveness of any technical documentation depends on how well the technical writer has tailored its content to appeal to the target audience. But in many cases, tailoring content for the target audience is not the challenge. The key challenge is how to identify and analyze the audience. So it’s not strange when you see technical writers asking “How can you tailor your content to appeal to a specific audience when you don’t even know them?” This is one of the reasons why users don’t read your manuals. Audience analysis is perhaps the single most important aspect of technical writing. If you do it right, your customer support team will heave a sigh of relief and you can slash your customer support cost. But what happens when you don’t hit the bull’s eye? You’ll have to spend more on customer support. Perhaps, create a new manual, and you can imagine the dent it can put on your product’s name as a brand, especially when your competitors are doing it right. Now you can avoid such a scenario by simply analyzing your audience.
You’ve designed a near perfect product or built a great software. And then you hired some of the best technical writers to write a user-friendly help manual to solve usability problems. You want your product users to start enjoying the product from the first minute. The technical writers did a great a job, and your user experience team confirmed that. But after launching your product or releasing an update, you seem to be spending a lot more on customer support. In many cases, the answers users are looking for are right inside the user manual. So now you’re asking the same question many manufacturers and developers have been asking. Do product users ever read help manuals?
What’s the difference between a great technical writer and a great writer? Both of them are great writers. But one of them has mastered the key skills required to make almost anyone understand and use almost any product that requires some technical knowledge regardless of their technological know-how. If you are a technical writer or perhaps you are interested in becoming one, it is important for you to master the required skills too. So to make technical writing easier for you, we’ve compiled 5 of the most important skills every technical writer should master to be a professional.