Great user documentation
Done well, user documentation can mean greater efficiency, seamless onboarding of new employees, fewer support calls, a reduction in training time and costs, and ultimately customer success.
Here’s a list of 6 steps towards greater documentation:
Step 1 - Know who you’re writing for
Identify the personas you are writing for and get to know their needs. Keep them in mind all the time. If you can create a persona description, this is an invaluable way to really get to know who you’re writing to and why.
Step 2 - Always test your procedures
You’ve written the instructions, but have you left out any vital steps? You won’t know until you’re gone through them in the program.
Step 3 - Get the difficulty level right
Experts often overestimate users’ knowledge. Don’t assume that your users are as familiar with the application as you On the other hand, don’t over-simplify your content either. It’s all about getting the balance right. If in doubt, revisit step 1.
Step 4 - Incorporate visuals in your content
Visuals provide an additional way of presenting information, they avoid the “wall of text” issue, appeal to the visual side of the brain, and make your content more approachable. Screenshots are helpful, but for more conceptual-style topics, a diagram is a great way to explain complex information. Therefore, for every About topic you write, try to find a way to include a diagram.
Step 5 - Use examples cleverly
Examples help users relate to what you’re describing. They often answer the “what’s-in-it-for-me” question, and they are a great way to clarify complex information. However, be careful not to let your examples take over your content.
Step 6 - Get feedback
Hopefully, you have a review process as a fixed part of your workflow, but sometimes it’s useful to get input from others even in the draft stage. If you’re stuck, there’s nothing better than a fresh set of eyes to help you get past your writer’s block.