One of the many titles that we documentarians assume is user’s advocate. This means that we defend the user’s interests, cater for their information needs, and provide them with the right content at the right time. But what if some of them cannot read the help topic because the font is too small and light, or they cannot do a step in a procedure as the instructions are too vague? This means that probably, we have overlooked such thing as accessibility. Continue reading
The myth of multitasking is one of the traps most of us fall into, especially in the office environment. Multitasking is a trendy skill in numerous job descriptions. It seems, the world needs super-duper multitaskers at all times. It was also presumed that those who appear effective in multitasking have superior brain function as well as better control of their thinking stream. Is such presumption true? Is multitasking really effective? And how does it influence our productivity and mental state? Recent studies show negative results. So, if you are checking your messages while reading this article or jumping from one web page to another, just stop for a moment. Continue reading
Proudly presenting the slides from my talk at Write the Docs Europe 2017, now on SlideShare!
Plus, fresh recording of the live talk.
For those of you who missed it, here’s a short intro.
Every doc that you deliver is as useful as the requirements it satisfies. Typical requirements revolve around target audience, method of delivery, technical limitations. But after the doc is done, then come unexpected expectations. John – your key stakeholder – dislikes clichés like corporate templates and wants to stand out with neat Apple-styled docs. Also, it was a mistake to tell him about similar ‘really cool docs’ you already did for his colleague Jane because apparently they don’t get along well, and now he proudly decided that he won’t mimic her decisions… Suddenly, your docs should not only make users happy, but also help your stakeholders achieve their aims – move up a career ladder, impress the manager, get a bigger paycheck. The success of your docs depends on requirements that you are never told but are still expected to meet. This presentation is about reading your stakeholders and deducing the ultimate requirements.
The idea of this post has been lingering in my mind for quite a long time. Having created documentation according to the Microsoft Manual of Style (MMoS) in the majority of my projects, I was puzzled a bit when I started investigating the Apple Style Guide. Not for the obvious reasons like structure differences, or depth of topics covered, or style of writing but for the small discrepancies like spelling or wording that were crucial nonetheless.
Having exclaimed “I need to write that down!” for the fifth time, I decided to make a side-by-side comparison of the guidelines proposed by both MMoS and Apple Style Guide.
In today’s world, doing one thing at a time is a great luxury. Imagine a situation: you start your working day by checking a dozen of emails and writing your docs then you switch to reviewing your colleague’s topics while preparing for an interview with your SME. Sounds familiar? Sure. We, information developers, have already got used to such a pace. To deliver the best results and ensure customers satisfaction, quite often, we have to be Julius Caesar, who was believed to be capable of writing, reading and giving orders simultaneously. But is it really a productive way of fulfilling our tasks?
Setting up a documentation project from scratch may be quite a challenging task, especially when you do it for the first time. On the one hand, you are excited about the new beginning. But on the other hand, looking for anchors to start the documentation process drives you into despair. Yet, if you start thinking strategically about your content, it may brighten up your life.