One of the issues we’ve been promoting for many years is the importance for Technical Authors to publish their user guides and online Help on the Web. A surprisingly large amount of companies still don’t offer Web versions, for reasons that include:
- It’s too difficult
- Our competitors might read it and reverse-engineer our product
- Support/Training/Marketing will object
Kyle has built a multi-million dollar business on the back of offering repair manuals that manufacturers choose not to put on the Web. The manuals are available free-of-charge, with ifixit.com making money from selling spare parts.
Wiens said that if machines in other industries — for example, tractors used by farmers — were to break down over a handful of years and couldn’t be easily repaired, consumers would openly revolt. “In industries where consumers really care about a quality, long-lasting product, there’s no way companies can get away with it,” he said. more
We’ve suggested in the past that organisations publish Help for their competitors’ products, so they can engage with their future customers.
Publishing to the Web provides a path to publishing to mobile devices and tablets. It also means, finally, Technical Author can measure the value of what they produce – how many people want to read it and what they think of it.
Regardless of the objections from other departments, this is probably the single most important thing a Technical Author can do.
Do you agree?