MadCap Flare Technical Writer for Hire

Online Help Technical Writer - Craig Wright

Craig Wright

Hi, I'm an experienced MadCap Flare technical writer based in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, UK. I use MadCap Flare to create user-friendly online and print documentation.

Are you looking for a skilled technical writer who knows how to use MadCap Flare? Someone who can hit the ground running, and create interesting and helpful content while taking advantage of Flare's advanced authoring features? Then I could be just the man for your job.

I'm a certified MadCap Flare Advanced Developer and I've been using Flare for many years, mostly to create HTML5 and PDF outputs. I am a big advocate of using it's time-saving features, such as snippets, conditional text, and variables, and can set your project up so that it is easier to update in the future. Importantly, I'm also a qualified and experienced technical writer, so I don't just know Flare - I know how to create engaging content that helps your customers and helps to reduce your support costs.

Why should you choose me as your MadCap Flare technical writer?

  • I am productive straightaway. I'm a certified advanced Flare user and know the product.
  • I've worked on lots of different projects, so will quickly adapt to how you operate.
  • I know how to use snippets, variables, and the other cool Flare features that will save you time and money.
  • Need something unusual? I can help. I have customised Flare to do things it can't do out of the box.
  • Technical writing expertise. I've been a technical writer for 20 years, have a degree in technical communication, and I'm a fellow of the ISTC. So your content is in safe hands.
If you would like to see some simple examples of MadCap Flare content (and my writing), click the image links below.
Are you looking for MadCap Flare training? Click here for more information.

Here, I'm going to explain how I can use Flare to create technical documentation that your customers will love, and will save you money in the long run.

You can use the links below to jump to the sections:

If that's more info than you need at this stage, why don't you get in touch and tell me about your MadCap Flare project? Whether you are starting a new Flare project from scratch or need a helping hand, I'm sure I can help.

Delivering a Better Customer Experience with MadCap Flare

The most important thing about your documentation is that it meets the needs of your customers. They need to be able to find information quickly, and once they have found what they are looking for, it has to be easy to understand. It also helps if the content is visually appealing. Thankfully, MadCap Flare makes it easy for a skilled technical writer to create outputs that meet these requirements.

What do I mean by 'outputs'? Well, Flare is a single-sourcing tool, which means it can generate lots of different types of files from the same set of topics. For example, many of the projects I have worked on have a PDF output and a HTML5 online help system, and both of these use the same content files (topics). An output is what your customers are going to see.

I'm going to focus on Flare's HTML5 output, as that's where your customers will get to see many of Flare's navigation and search features, as well as stylish designs.

The images below show two different HTML5 outputs, both of which use Flare's 'top nav' layout, which is a more modern user interface.

Madcap Flare Technical Writer - Craig Wright
Madcap Flare Technical Writer - Craig Wright

As you can see, Flare HTML5 help can be made to look pretty stylish, and it is responsive too, so your customers can access it on their smartphones, tablets, or desktops.

But how can I make sure your content is easy to find? By using Flare's navigation features.

Flare has lots of navigation features that I can use to guide your customers to the content they need. These include menus and hyperlinks, and also some other cool features such as:

  • Search tool with filter

    Flare's HTML5 help has a built-in search tool that works like a search engine on the web. Your customers just enter a term, press Enter, and Flare displays the most relevant results. I can also add search filters, so that your customers can restrict their search to certain areas of your content.

 
Search for content in MadCap Flare
 
  • Synonyms

    Work in an industry where different terms are used for the same thing? Not a problem! With synonyms, I can get Flare to match different terms. For example, if you have a setting called 'mp3', I can match 'mp3' to 'Sound', 'Music', and 'Audio', so that your mp3 topic appears in the results no matter which term your customers use.

 
 

 

  • Links to Related Topics

    These include relationship tables, cross-references, and my personal favourite, concept links. There are differences between all three, but they are all important for the same reason - they guide your customer between topics, and if used carefully, can take them on a user journey that gradually builds up their knowledge on a given subject.

    The animation below shows a concept link. When a reader selects the concept link, which in this case is labelled 'See Also', a pop-up list of related topic links is shown. The reader can select any of these links to navigate to that page, or alternatively, can use the search feature, the menu, or other links in the text to find new content.

 
Madcap Flare Technical Writer - Craig Wright
 

These are just some of the features I can use to help your customers find the content they need. There are many more, but as with most features in Flare, knowing how to use them appropriately is key. Just because a feature exists, it doesn't always mean it should be used.

The success of your help content isn't just down to the navigation features, though. The content itself is king, and that's where you need my skills rather than any Flare features. I know how to pitch your content at the right level and guide your customers along their 'user journey'. I won't go into details on my approach to technical writing here, but if you are interested, you can learn more on my Approach to Technical Writing page.

Now that you've seen some of the ways I can use Flare to create a great customer experience, let's look at how I can use it's content reuse features to save you time and money.

I'll Save You Time and Money with Flare's Content Reuse Features

MadCap Flare has many content reuse features. They allow technical writers to create content once, in one file, and then embed that content wherever it is needed. This helps to reduce the amount of time, and therefore, the cost, involved in updating the content in the future.

To show you how it works, I'll give you a real-life example from a past project.

On this project, there were lots of step-by-step procedures, and dozens of them had similar steps. For example, the step for opening a file was the same, the step for saving was the same, etc. One of the steps that was used over and over again was 'Select the Configuration button to launch the Editor'. Instead of writing this instruction as plain text, dozens of times, I wrote it in a 'snippet', which is a file that can be embedded in topics. So the 'Select the Configuration button to launch the Editor' text only existed in one file - the snippet - but it was embedded in lots of different topics.

Months later, the interface for the software changed. The Configuration button was now called the Edit button. To make this update to the documentation, I only needed to change the text in the snippet - the change was then applied automatically to the files that contain the snippet. Much quicker, and more reliable, than doing a find and replace on all of the files.

The secret to using content reuse effectively is to plan for it at the start. As I've done it many times, I know the sorts of things to look out for and can plan a clear structure so that other writers can quickly understand where the reuse content is. That's important, as there's no point in having reusable content if the writers can't find it and don't use it.

Sounds a bit complicated and messy? It can be. In the wrong hands, your project can become a real mess. But I've done this before and can make sure you get the benefits of content reuse and avoid the pitfalls.

MadCap Flare Technical Author - using Snippets

MadCap Flare Training

I'm often asked if I provide MadCap training as a service. Delivering formal training is not really my thing, but I do help others to get to grips with Flare. On previous projects, this has been via email or Skype. For example, when working for an NHS out of hours service provider, I helped a non-technical author create content in Flare and even use more complex features like conditional text and snippets.

If you want formal training, I recommend Matthew Ellison who operates from Flare Training UAEurope. Matthew trained me to use Flare, many moons ago.

Alternatively, Armada do excellent courses (I use them for learning about other technical communication products). You can find Armada's Flare training here: http://www.armada.co.uk/madcap-flare-training-course.