Evaluate Your Writing: Content
Posted June 23, 2009on:
If the content of your documents is not accurate and complete, how are your company’s customers supposed to learn to use the products they buy from you?
Product documentation is one of the most visible and important customer-facing parts of your product offering. Correct, useful content plays a large role in satisfying customers and getting repeat business.
Problems with content are frequently indicated by the following feedback from your staff reviewers or (worse) your customers:
- There is too much “extra” information that is often beside the point.
- There is too little information; critical details have been omitted.
- The information is too technical or too basic for the intended audience.
- The information is simply incorrect.
Did the writer omit the planning and conceptual-design phases of the project? Ask the wrong questions? Or just not bother to check the facts with a subject expert? Perhaps the outline was not well thought out. Maybe the product changed during the writing process, and no one told the writer. It’s also possible the writer may not have known enough about the subject matter.
In order to answer the question “What am I going to say in this document?”, you must know your product, its purpose, your audience, what type of document you are writing, and how the document is to be used. These are exactly the sort of issues that are addressed in the planning and conceptual-design phases at the beginning of a writing project.
To produce solid content that meets your audience’s needs, you must set the stage for success. Otherwise, the document will probably get away from you.