Technical Communications Essentials

If you have a sophisticated technical product with a technically sophisticated user base, it is essential that you communicate everything they need to know about your product, from suitable applications, to subtle but essential details about how your product operates or behaves. Not only do technicians and engineers need to know how to configure or adjust a product, they sometimes need to know the implications and trade-offs of different configurations.

Find out why Doug Samuel is the right tech writer for your project.

Technical manuals are used in different ways by different people. As an individual’s understanding and familiarity with your product increases, the way they use your documentation will also change. Does your documentation cater to these different requirements?

When faced with a new product, some people will want to read the manual from cover to cover. My clients tell me that this is especially true of their Asian customers. Other readers skim the manual, looking for pertinent information to fill their knowledge gaps. Still others want to start using the product right away, then use the manual to look up solutions to the problems they encounter along the way.

As users become more familiar with your product, they tend to use the manual as a reference. The key is to find the information they are looking for quickly and easily.

How to meet all these different needs?

There are several ways. One is to have separate tutorials, user and reference manuals. Another is to design the manual such that it reads well cover to cover, but is well indexed and cross-referenced so that the information can be found. Most clients favour the later approach, because it is less effort to produce and easier to maintain. Tutorials, if required, are best kept as a separate document, or as an on-line course or in electronic media format (for example, Flash).

Whichever approach you choose, it is essential that the content is clear, complete, well-organized and properly illustrated as required.

I am good at collecting information, noticing gaps in information (and filing the gaps), organizing information, and writing clear, well-organized content. I pay close attention to detail. I can also produce certain types of illustrations suitable for technical documentation.

Find out more: Contact me