Some Best Practices When Writing Help Documentation

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*Due to web issues, we lost information on who authored this piece.  If this is your work, please let us know and we will give you publishing credit.*

If you are planning to create online help documentation and want to make sure you end up with one that is truly helpful, here are three best practices you can follow to make sure it is:

  • Tailor it to users who have with varying skill sets and goals.
  • Review, test, and update it for accuracy.
  • Create context-sensitive topics.

Keep different users in mind

You can’t always predict what every user will know or want to know about any product. On one hand, if you oversimplify help steps, users might get confused. If you provide too much detail, they might get frustrated or bored.

One way to alleviate this problem is to divide help topics into several different types that target users at different skill levels by varying the kind and amount of information you provide. For example, you might have an overview topic, such as a definition of a specific system function, and then provide a link to all of the tasks related to that function within the overview. That way, users get just the specific steps they want.

The key is to allow users to navigate the help documentation to find (or avoid) as much detail as they want.

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How to Write Good Web Copy

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This article comes from a discussion on LinkedIn and original author is unknown. It has valuable information about what you should consider when writing effective web copy.

Writing for the Web

Writing for the web is unlike any other kind of writing. Whether you’re an author or a marketer, knowing how to write good web copy is a valuable skill. Besides the basic principles of good writing, two things make online content “good”: how easy it is to find and how well it persuades readers to take a desired action. Use the following ideas to improve your web writing skills.

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You Know You’re a Technical Communicator When…

YouKnow

…people talk about their jobs in user experience, information architecture, content strategy, project management, business analysis, content marketing, knowledge-base management, or information mapping, and you say, “Yelp. Been doing that for years.”

…somebody shows you the latest tech toy—software, hardware, vaporware, any ware—and you go pant, pant, pant.

…you’re the one who thought, wouldn’t it be cool to put web and log together and make a new word: b-l-o-g.

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