Six ways to add Web 2.0 functionality to your manuals

This is an end of a long day post, so forgive me if I miss anything obvious. Here are some suggested actions and ideas for creating Web 2.0 technical documentation:

1. Put your documents on the Web, as Web pages.
2. Create a link to the Web version on folksonomy/tagging sites such as Digg, Technorati and del.icio.us. Describe your content on these sites (using tags).
3. Consider aggregating/incorporating content from other sources into the online version. This could be content from other departments, such as support, or external content. You can use RSS feeds to acquire this content.
4. Create a RSS feed for your content. This can help users be aware when content has changed, and help them re-use the content elsewhere. You could use Feedburner to do this.
5. Create a Twitter account and link your RSS feed to this account. This means users who are also Twitter users can receive your updates through Twitter. You can use Twitterfeed to do this.
6. Consider enabling users to add comments to your content. Some Help authoring tools allow you to add this functionality. Others allow you to embed this functionality from elsewhere. Another potential way to do this could be by using the Adobe Air viewer.

What about wikis? Wikis can be a good idea, particularly if you want to use content from development staff. However, you need to consider how you control and approve content and how you create printable manuals.

What is Web 2.0?

We 2.0 is name for a collection of Web technologies that can be summarised enabling conversation, aggregation and collaboration.

Why add Web 2.0 functionality?

That’s a whole conversation in itself, but the benefits include establishing a better relationship with your clients and prospects and getting others to write some of the content.

Have I missed anything out?
Should you take this advice?

One Comment

Anne Gentle

Hi Ellis,
I would actually step backwards one direction and say the first step for Web 2.0 and documentation is learning to listen and monitor conversations that are already ongoing. If there are some, the second step is to join the already existing ones if you can do so with a genuine voice. Third would be to offer some sort of conversation platform on the web, through social bookmarking, comments, support forums, blogs, wikis and the like.

Does that approach make sense? I think it’s not about adding Web 2.0 functionality, but about joining in Web 2.0 where your communities already connect, then go forward with your goal of adding Web 2.0 functionality to your user assistance.

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