To sign up for our daily email newsletter, CLICK HERE
Great if you already have documentation at your company, it’s time to improve it for better results.
A document or technical document at your company may include a how-to guide for new users, new hires, followers, or a user manual for SaaS products. Documentation is a critical part of your company. In short, it is a business asset that helps you increase brand awareness, brand value, and customer engagement.
Before deciding on how to create a document, paint a picture of what the best document would look like. Make a plan and create a document, and then improve it on a regular basis.
Why Effective Documentation is Important
Effective documentation is important for seamless workflow, efficiency, and improved communication between team members. In fact, it is a smart way to invest both in team productivity and end-user.
Contrary to common belief, a technical document is not just great for the SaaS product. It is essential for any technical field that includes medicine, engineering, data science, information security, or any other field. The major benefit of technical documents is their accessibility to knowledge within the company.
Documentation helps the new employees to understand the process, and assists the existing employees to stay informed about changes in any process. When all the important company details are documented in a certain place, your team will not waste time looking for them.
According to studies, on average an employee spends 2.5 hours looking for information. Having a document in place will help you keep your information organized. Your employees will have to reduce the time spent on looking for information.
Today we are going to explain how you can improve your documentation for better results.
Tip No 1: Keep the End-user in Mind
We all know that the ultimate goal of a technical document is to educate, provide value and share knowledge with the end-user whether they are your customers or your employees. A technical document helps them avoid errors and misusing your product.
For example, a user manual will help your customers to use your products correctly and accurately. A detailed document is helpful particularly if your product is sensitive to handle or can cause them harm. Therefore, always focus on writing the document keeping in mind your end-user.
As you write the technical document, walk the user through each and every step. Use examples to show the step-by-step procedure to use the product/service. This will educate your customer to use the product correctly, and accurately and help them avoid errors and misuse.
Additionally, the step-by-step procedures mentioned in the documents will help your new team members to address the issue using the knowledge of prior experience. The troubleshooting documents and the frequently asked questions mentioned in the user manual will provide answers to the common questions they might have in their mind.
Tip No 2: Study the Product Thoroughly
Before you could start writing about any technical document you should study the product/service thoroughly. The technical document is going to be the ultimate guide for your target audience, therefore you should focus on making the complex ideas simple. Do your research, consult the industry experts, study the customer feedback well.
Improve your technical document over and over again until you feel like it explains everything accurately. Make sure the language is easy to read and understand. Avoid using industry jargon and cliche language.
Tip No 3: Use Templates for Consistent On-page Design
Ever started flipping through a technical document and instantly found the design is too bad? As much as you just stopped there?
This isn’t because the information lacks poor structure or information, but it lacks the layout or has a poor design. The cognitive fluency of the human brain helps us to recognize how easily the information is placed in front of us. Therefore, it should be placed in a way that gets you hooked throughout and helps you find instantly what you have been looking for.
Use templates to make the process easier and faster. Using a template allows you to have a blueprint of how you will structure your data in the right way. Contrarily, a poor design makes the document cluttered and unprofessional, and the reader will quickly lose interest and stop exploring it further.
Tip No 4: Include Visual Content for Better Usability
Visuals are powerful, it’s a no-brainer. Including visuals, such as using a visual CV rather than a standard CV, can make your document more engaging and easy to use. People consume visual content far easier than other types of content. Plus, it is more memorable too. Include visual content because the work-related documents should not be boring, and they must be fun for the readers and are designed to transfer knowledge quite easily.
The easier you make the document for the end-user, the better. Get a little creative to make the document more engaging using graphs, charts, infographics, pictures, etc. You can use a chart maker or PowerPoint templates for creating nice catchy graphics.
You don’t need to be a professional designer. You can use your phone to capture nice pictures or download some easy-to-use design apps for visual content. Likewise, you can use some of the free templates for creating charts and graphs easily.
Download an easy-to-use app like Visme that helps create engaging graphics for nondesigners. It offers a lot of free templates for creating infographics, charts, graphs, etc.
Tip No 5: Focus on Improving Readability
You might design the best document on earth, but if it does not read well, you will face a big-time failure. Once you design it creatively, your focus should be working on improving its readability. Remember, you are writing for the end-user, therefore, it should be error-free grammatically (you can use Quillbot’s free grammar checker), contextually, and statistically.
The readability of your document is important in the same way as it is for the web content or blog content. Optimizing the content for readability is great both for the reader and search engines.
Let’s look at this example below, that I read in one of the technical documents where the writer wants to explain the importance of focus as a first step to business transformation.
“Focus, is naturally about focus. Focusing the direction and vision for the Organization as well as the scope of work for the programme and busines architeutre.”
In this example, check out the first sentence. The word ‘focus’ appears two times in a row, making it less readable and more repetitive. And, the next sentence starts with the same word. Plus, the second sentence is fragmented along with some unnecessary capitalization, making it hard to read and consume.
For a reader, it sounds very unattractive and it doesn’t entice him to move forward and read what’s next. Alternatively, improving the readability will boost the engagement rates and people will interact with your documents pretty easily.
Here’s how you can improve readability.
- Use active voice
- Write short sentences
- Paragraphs should be lesser than 300 words
- Add subheadings
Never Use Passive Voice
As mentioned earlier, if you use too much passive voice in the document it will decrease its readability. Along with that, your document will also be less clear. Consistent and efficient writing is the result of active voice.
Once your document is ready, read through the document to remove any passive voice that you have included and replace it with active voice. Changing the passive voice into the active voice is easy. You can also use apps like Grammarly to fix it seamlessly.
Tip No 6: Add Catchy Headings and Bullets Point Grab Attention
Adding catchy headings and bullet points is the key to creating an engaging document. Creative copy takes time, and that’s why businesses have to set aside a certain amount of budget to hire a copywriter with the right skillset.
Hire a copywriter who can make your content more catchy by including headings, and bullet points. Your audience is constantly inundated with content through catchy ads, online videos, animations, and gifs. Therefore, it’s important to get creative to stand ahead of the competition. As a result, you have to focus on creating documents with consumable bullet points and catchy headings.
Choose the right language to boost company value without using buzzwords or acronyms, because they are not easy to understand. Your goal is to improve customer retention, improve the level of productivity and increase company wroth. However, if you end up using too many buzzwords, or acronyms you will lose the benefits that you can drive through the technical documentation.
Organize your Document Well
You will succeed at creating an incredible document if you know the art of organizing your content, data, values, graphics, etc. Always organize the document keeping in mind the end-user.
With a technical document, your goal should be to connect with the users and provide them value. Add visuals, write readable content, think of the right structures, and know the product/service inside out before you could even start writing about it.
Follow the above-mentioned points in order to improve the document and to improve your company’s worth.