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.
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.