Who Should Author Your Help Documentation

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Who Should Author Your Help Documentation

Creating help documentation is a difficult task even though many people think it’s quite easy. Still, those who have no experience soon realize that this task requires a lot of hard work as soon as they start writing. Technical writing is about explaining all functions related to specific products or services.

This kind of documentation is written for a lot of different people who will use those products and not all of them will have the same expectations and knowledge. In spite all of these things, experienced technical writers will usually have no troubles writing this documentation.

Still, it’s not only about writing it, it’s also about covering important topics and subjects, formatting the whole document appropriately, making it easy to read, giving accessibility and making it available in different types of formats. With this in mind, it becomes clear that this is not an easy job and finding a competent author is essential if you want your help documentation to be good.

Their writing needs to be good

Their writing needs to be good

Help documentation writing is completely different than most other writing techniques. This is a skill, an art form if you will, which requires a lot of practice and experience. It doesn’t come naturally and not everyone can do it. This is why you cannot just choose anyone who has writing skills to do this job for you.

The best way to go is to choose a single person to do this job so that you can ensure consistency. No matter if you are planning on hiring a product creator, a company, or a technical author to write this in-house, you need to make sure that the person has adequate writing skills to do the job.

The person needs to be willing to gather a lot of information and tweak the content constantly. This person needs to have experience with this kind of writing, or something similar, and on top of that, he or she also needs to know how to use help documentation software, as these solutions make the job a lot easier and allow for better formatting.

Make sure that they provide you with a template

Make sure that they provide you with a template

When you first come in contact with someone who can create help documentation for you, make sure to ask them to create an article template for your help documentation. If you want to see how your documentation will look like, a template will help you get a better picture.

You need to make sure that the person can create a whole article from scratch with a good concept that fits into the whole picture. Ask for a template that has a section which will be filled later and make sure that these sections are used for important information that is relevant to your target audience.

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When you see the template, you will get a better picture of whether or not this person knows what he or she is doing and do they have the necessary technical skills to do the job. With a standardized template, your articles will also be consistent and your readers will learn what to expect from them over time.

Discuss the tone and the jargons

Although you should make sure that the person authoring your help documentation understands the language of the target audience and knows how to address them clearly, it is still quite possible that this person will have to use technical terms that won’t be familiar to everyone reading the content.

The person authoring your documentation needs to understand which terms are more complex and need explaining. Generally, a good idea is to define terms at the start of each article sto that people can instantly learn what they mean. If not, you can also lead users to reliable resources that can give them further information.

When it comes to advanced concepts, a good idea is to link to some external article which deals with this topic. Simply put, a writer cannot insert a lengthy explanation within a help document and completely mislead users, especially when you know that this is not what they came there for.

This is why it’s a better idea to give them the option to read some external content which specifically talks about this complex issue. Discussing all of these things with your author is very important and you must make sure that the person you choose has complete understanding for this kind of approach.

They need to consider the audience they are writing for

They need to consider the audience they are writing for

One of the most important things that must be considered immediately is whether the writer knows the target audience. Simply put, this content that needs to be written is not meant for the writer to understand it and learn from it, but the people who are potential product buyers.

The end user needs help documentation that is instructional and it needs to serve as a how-to guide. Even though there might be various technical jargons throughout the content that need to be explained and offer additional information, primarily, this content should be focused on the reader, making sure that they understand everything written.

The language used needs to be adjusted and simplified as much as possible to make sure that the designated target audience will understand everything clearly and will have no troubles getting the answers they need. The writer needs to be able to put themselves in the reader’s shoes and look at the whole thing from their point of view.

In the end, remember that experience is the key. It’s generally a good idea to find a person that has a lot of knowledge about the field you are in, as you might quickly come to an understanding. Still, this doesn’t mean anything, as there are a lot of technical writers that are willing to gather information and learn about a certain subject before they start writing.

Author Bio:- Robin is a Technical Support Executive. He is an expert in knowledge management and various Knowledge base tools. Currently, he is a resident knowledge management expert at ProProfs. In his free time, Robin enjoys reading and traveling.

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