Craig Wright, Technical Writer
Online Help Technical Writer
Craig Wright – Technical writer and copywriter
Searchable online help that’s available 24 hours a day
With an online help system, you can support your customers around the clock, without ongoing costs. Online help works in a similar way to a website and is accessed via a browser, but it doesn’t have to be online – you can provide a local copy with your products.
If you don’t already have online help, I can create a HTML5 help centre using MadCap Flare or Paligo (or other tools if you prefer). If you already have online help or a customer support system in place, that’s no problem. I can create topics to complement what you already have,
Online help and user guides created from the same content
One of the best things about modern technical authoring tools is that they support single-sourcing. This means that they can generate help files, PDFs, and other formats all from the same set of content. The content only needs to be written once.
- Is available 24/7 to local and international customers
- Customers can search for terms, navigate menus, and follow hyperlinks, just like on a web site
- Can include text, images, video, sound
- Responsive design means your online help looks and works great on smartphones, tablets, and desktop PCs
- Content reuse features make it easier and cheaper to update your content
Content reuse makes it easier and cheaper to update your help
Do you have a range of products that need similar documentation? Then authoring tools like MadCap Flare and Paligo can save you a lot of money, thanks to their content reuse features.
With content reuse, I can write content once, in one place, and reuse it in many different help systems or user guides. It makes it much quicker (and cheaper) to update your documentation, but in the wrong hands, it can make your project over-complicated and difficult to manage.
That’s not going to be a problem for you, as I’ve used content reuse extensively on many projects and have a strategy that works.
If you’d like to know more about content reuse, I’ve written an article about it – Content reuse.
Reduce your translation costs with topic-based content
Most online help systems use topics to contain content. So instead of writing all of your content in one long file, like a Word document, each section is its own file or database entry. This gives you much more flexibility in how the content can be used and it is much easier for translation companies to manage. They can use their systems to compare files quickly to see which topics have changes.
Because the content is styled with CSS, it is easier and quicker to apply different typesetting to your content. This is really important when you have translated content, as there is much less typesetting needed for other languages (typesetting is one of the biggest costs with localisation).
Topics have to be helpful
The whole purpose of your online help is to give your customers information so that they can resolve problems themselves, without calling your customer support. That’s only going to work if your online help delivers an excellent customer experience.
As your technical writer, I’ll make sure that your content:
- Is easy to read and pitched at the right level for your customers.
- Has a clear, logical structure.
- Can be searched, just like a regular web site.
- Is available on smartphones, tablets, and desktops.
- Includes contextual information (the why and when) and not just instructions (the how to).
- Has an appealing look and feel that matches your corporate brand.
- Promotes your products and services, where appropriate.