Is your Documentation Failing? I'll Make it Better.
How do you know if your documentation isn't working for your business? Some of the tell-tale signs are:
- High volume of calls to your customer support centre
- Customers calling with the same questions
- Customers complaining about missing or misleading information.
If your business has these problems, then there is a good chance that your content isn't connecting with your customers. That's where my editing service can help. As a technical writer with 20 years' experience in both hardware and software, I know what customers need from manuals and help. And I can use that valuable experience to make your documentation better.
Editing Technical Documents - Common Problems
During my career, I've edited lots of documents, manuals, and help pages, and the same sort of problems crop up over and over again. Here, I'm going to explain what some of the common problems are and why they happen, so that you can get a feel for how I will edit your content.
When you take advantage of my editing service, the first thing I will do is check your content for common problems:
- Is the use of language appropriate for your customers? Is it too technical? Too formal?
- Does your content have a logical structure from your customer's point of view?
- Is your content task-based or does it fall into the trap of being a product description?
- Are your descriptions incomplete or ambiguous?
- Do your sections contain suitable navigation?
- Are your examples relatable?
- Does your content guide your customer along the 'user journey' or does it just throw information at them?
- Is your content written in a way that allows it to be used in a non-linear fashion?
These are all common problems that can confuse customers and result in them abandoning your documentation. That's bad news, because it creates a poor impression of your product and leads to more customer support calls. Remember, in the long term, providing technical documentation is cheaper than providing customer support.
The good news is that I can fix these issues, and other problems that may be affecting your documentation. The first step to making your documentation better is to get in touch. Click the button below and let me know about your project. I'll get back to you a.s.a.p and we can discuss what needs to be done.
Rewriting for Topic-Based Authoring Systems
Moving from Word or FrameMaker to a topic-based tool such as Flare or Paligo can involve a lot of changes. Sometimes, a straight conversion is not going to cut the mustard. For example, if your old documents are written like books, where they have to be read from start to finish, that's not really going to work with topics. So you'll need to fix them to be more standalone, with navigation links as appropriate. Of course, I'd argue that the original document should never have been written to be read linearly, but that's a discussion for another day.
With new tools, come new possibilities. With Flare and Paligo, you have a lot more options, such as:
- Variables - A short piece of text that you can embed in lots of places, and update with a single change. Great for product names, dates, etc.
- Conditions - Content that you can choose to include or exclude, depending on which output you are building. Use these for items that only need to be in one output, such as front covers in PDFs but not in HTML5 help.
- Content Reuse - Content that you create once, in one file, and use repeatedly in your topics. Saves time and money when updating.
These features can save you a lot of time and money, but they need to be set up right in the first place. This can take a lot of work, as you need a good, workable strategy for reuse, and knowledge of what to avoid. I can do this for you as part of my editing service. It requires some thought and isn't a quick process, but there are long-term benefits to be had.