What’s THE NEXT BIG THING?
This was the topic of the TCeurope Colloquium 2016, last April 15, at ISCAP.
APCOMTEC and CICE-ISCAP brought Technical Writers and Communicators together to talk to us about technical documentation. I believe the main idea behind this is to ask the question “what do the end users need?” Is it the type of format or the amount of information that matters to them?
One of these communicators was Marie Flacke, a graduate of the Technical Writing Programme at the American University of Paris, with an interesting subject: “Customer success and satisfaction in the connected world: can technical communicators cope?”
In order to respond to the customer’s needs, Marie Flacke believes that:
- We should skip useless information like the introduction, general information and pointless descriptions (for instance, a description of a table saying it has 3 columns and 5 rows when the reader can see that and knows how to count). Do we really need Warning Messages? Or just straightforward troubleshooting?
- We should think about the user’s environment, think objectively. For instance, imagine a worker who needs to repair a machine in an outdoor environment, at -25ºC and with 15 minutes to repair it. He isn’t going to read a 50-page manual searching for the solution.
- If troubleshooting is what users require most, it would be best to have just a clear title and a clear solution.
- Findability is key! If the end user doesn’t type the exact word that the technical writer used in the search box, he may not find what he’s looking for. So, in order to find the pertinent info quickly it’s advisable to write a very good Index.
William van Weelden, a Dutch technical writer and functional designer, presented the theme “Great content and SEO: a match made in Mountain View”. SEO is about being found, and being found means creating content that makes the top 3.
Like Marie, William also mentioned the findability of content. In order to achieve this, there are elements to take into account, such as, if it’s mobile friendly, the page speed, the HTML structure, the technical sitemap, links from trusted sources, the content shared on social media, title, summaries and, of course, the quality of the articles.
Despite some controversy between some attendees and speakers as to whether written text is a thing of the past or not, the idea remains that users should contribute to the documentation. And, of course, a well-written text, with substantial and relevant information, means quality content.
by Daniela Melo