We’ve a client looking for information on applying Net Promoter Score to user assistance documentation. If you’ve seen anything, please let us know.
Cherryleaf’s Ellis Pratt will be the guest speaker at June’s “Member Masterclass @ The IoD”. The topic is clever content creation in business. We’ll look at some of the most effective techniques for creating the types of content created in today’s business world. The event will be held at 6pm on 2nd of June 2015, at the Institute of Directors, 116 Pall Mall, London.
This was a surprise, as Atlassian has been a strong advocate for having user comments appended to user documentation. Sarah Maddox, when she was working at Atlassian, posted the reasons why the company encouraged comments on her personal blog:
As a technical communicator, sometimes it can be hard to explain to others what it is you do. In the olden days, it was simpler: you could say you wrote manuals. Then, in more recent times, you could say you wrote online Help and manuals.
Today, there can be uncertainty of what is and isn’t technical communication. It can be unclear if certain deliverables should be created by a technical communicator or by someone else. For example, if content moves from a Help page to an onboarding screen, is it still technical communication? If the text moves into the interface, should the technical communicator create it? Are walkthrough videos a function of training or technical communication? Continue reading →
STC France-TCeurope has published a recording of Ellis’ webinar presentation on the changing nature of technical content. The presentation lasted 50 minutes, followed by 10 minutes of questions and answers:
We were contacted last week by a SaaS developer who wanted to know if their solution might be of interest to companies needing to write and host their product’s user manual or online Help content. So what capabilities do Technical Authors look for in an authoring tool?
There were a few features that sprung to mind:
Multi-channel publishing (for example: publishing to the Web, Microsoft Word and PDF). PDFs are still important as a publishing option, as people still like to read good quality printed content.
Separation of look and feel from content.
Content re-use (write once, re-use many times). This is different from simple cut-and-paste.
Variables (so it’s easy to change product names).
Conditional text (content that can vary depending on the type of user or type of product).
Link management (being able to find content in the project quickly, as well as being able to manage the dependencies among links and topics).
The ability to handle larger documents (200+ page documents with screenshots on most pages)
Expanding/collapsing table(s) of contents (and even different tables of contents for different types of users).
A user-friendly authoring environment.
Version management of the content.
Ideally, there would also be:
A way for occasional users to add and edit content without breaking formatting styles, using a User Interface that didn’t overwhelm them.
Access to and shared management of the content. This is so that writers could collaborate with each other, working on different topics for publications at the same time.
There was an interesting news snippet today from Flair Pool, a PhD candidate who has been researching how the latest trends from the Web and Social Media can be applied to traditional user documentation.
Flair has been looking at how the techniques used by sites such as Buzzfeed could be incorporated into knowledge bases and online Help sites such as the Microsoft Developer Network and IBM’s Software Knowledge Base. She’s been running tests on changing the titles of topics, to increase the number of clicks, and then testing the results. Flair’s premise is that Help topic titles are typically quite dry – adding a user, deleting a user, opening a file etc. – and not very attractive to Millennials used to reading Buzzfeed and similar sites.
Millennials Flickr image by Erin Nekervis
Not all types of Buzzfeed-style titles were judged appropriate to Help content, and so were excluded from the tests. In other words, the researchers did not rewrite any content linking a feature to users’ sex lives.
Below we’ve listed some of the modified topic titles Flair used in three different image applications:
That Moment When Your Backup Doesn’t Work
Collaborating With Other Users – First You’ll Be Shocked, Then You’ll Be Inspired
File Sharing – You Won’t Believe What Happened Next
The 15 Filters That Prove This App Isn’t Such A Bad Place
11 Blending Techniques That Only Advanced Users Know
Manipulating Colours Better Than Kim Kardashian
Apply These 6 Secret Techniques To Improve Getting Started With [XYZ]
Saving An Image File Anyone Would Be Proud Of
Adding A User Doesn’t Have To Be Hard. Read These 6 Tips
Get Rid Of Resizing An Image Problems Once And For All
Are You Embarrassed By Your Cropping Images Skills? Here’s What To Do
Five Template Tips That Will Make You Feel Like A Genius
In 10 Minutes, I’ll Give You The Truth About Image Layers
4 Backup Tasks That Will Make You Want To Fall In Love
Do You Make These Simple Mistakes When Deleting A User?
Get Better File Conversion Results By Following 3 Simple Steps
Configuration Screens You Should Never Show A Unhappy User
When You Open A File And You’re Like, “Corrupted File”
Flair will reporting her findings and conclusions at the first ever CommaCon conference, which is being held in Oxford in the Autumn. She’s also applied to speak at the Kerning-Mann 2015 event as well. At this point, we can say the initial results suggest changing to this style of writing increases the number of page hits by 0.35%.
Flair is proposing these alternative style of topics titles be included as part of the new Lightweight DITA standard, on the basis that you can’t get more lightweight than this type of headline.
What do you think?
Could you see yourself using these types of titles in your user documentation? Share your thoughts below.
There seems little point is sending out newsletters if they are not of value to the audience. So it’s important we include the right content. If you have some suggestions on how our newsletter could be improved, then do let us know.