Every writer who is worth their salt has asked themselves this existential question. Does the content that I publish – really help a user? Is it being read? Is my work really adding value? How does a technical writer approach their content, given that they have to deal with the technical jargon in addition to keeping the text engaging? Content is often the last frontier in software development. However, content implementation goes beyond copywriting and proofreading. It also entails adding new features and functionality, making your documentation more engaging for users in real-time.
One of the objectives of creating help content is to improve product feature awareness. It answers the question – how familiar is your target audience with your product and how well they use it. Products with high brand awareness are generally referred to as “trending,” “buzzworthy”, or simply “popular”. One way to have products that are easy to use – is to have the most intuitive user interface. The other way is to make sure your users have the right help content. The objective of any technical writer in a modern workplace is to help computer programs and application users extract maximum value from the software.
I am a passionate technical communicator and was trapped inside the box of just creating text content till Whatfix happened. The question that always bothered me was “how effective can text content be?”.
I often meet prospective customers who ask me ‘What should I include in my Help?’ or ‘How can I write good Help Content?’. My answer is simple: make sure it’s contextual. Make sure it’s enough. Make sure it is discoverable.
Problems That Daunt Tech Writers
Let’s look at what hinders these users from achieving the said value,
- Insufficient information to complete a task
- Irrelevant content
- Lack of updated content based on the latest UI
- Not able to troubleshoot without reaching out to support
- Lack of product awareness even among the staff
Introducing My “Good” Old Days of Content Authoring
Here are some of the ways that I’ve been using as a tech writer in the past 5 years…
I used multiple authoring tools to create content based on the client’s preferences. Most of these tools only focus on efficiently creating content. Adding an image or a chart helps the user visually consume the content. If it is just plain text, the reader is not going to get the whole point or might lose interest in reading through the entire content. The biggest issue with using images in documentation is the need for updating them regularly each time there’s a product update. Most of the authoring tools don’t provide us with any respite for this issue. Hence, I used to shy away from using screenshots or images in my content.
My Failed Attempts, Now I Recall:
I tried my best to mention if a particular content is relevant for a user or not. This is to ensure that irrelevant users don’t waste their time reading my content. But, most of the time, users in need tend to skip the note. They follow a procedure that they are not supposed to. This leads to confusion and results in the user dropping off the application.
My Journey at Whatfix:
I recently joined Whatfix which is a contextual DAP platform that understands what a user is doing, why they are doing it, and where they are in your application. Using customizable automation rules (based on events or actions), I can surface the right information to users at the right time based on their context, right there and this is my experience about becoming a DAP-ster. The previous organization that I worked for was already a customer of Whatfix and I have been a part of the Whatfix experience as an end-user.
What Has Changed Now?
One of the major problems with most of my earlier content is that they are static and just text. With Whatfix, my motive has changed from triggering a reading action to inculcating clarity in content that triggers a user action (preferably immediately) on the application. In simple terms, I am bringing in the engagement quotient to my documentation. I am now including more and more images, videos, and other visual content in my documentation as I don’t have to worry about replacing these images manually each time the product is updated.
Contextual Help is The future
When I first heard about contextual help, I was convinced that this is the future of help content. Offering help content at the exact time of need. In layman’s terms, contextual help or context-sensitive help is when a query is resolved promptly. Imagine, offering help right on the screen where the user is stuck and is looking for help. Do you see the product’s customer satisfaction quotient go up multifold already?
You Don’t Have To Code!
When I saw a demo of an in-app contextual help tool on an application that I was using for years, I had a lot of questions about how this in-app content was created without knowing how to code. How was it deployed in any application? Even though many content authoring solutions these days allow for easy content creation, what’s really required is a platform that can show content on the application itself, eliminating the need for strong coding knowledge. I don’t need to depend on the development process to make minor content updates. Hence, all I need is a solution to build in-app help content- without the need to learn how to code.
How Cool Is It To Track User Persona!
I can’t improve something that can’t be measured. I can’t show all the content to all your users. That’s why I need analytics. For insights on who is using my content and for what. I can even track their behavior in the application and find out if they got the necessary help or not by collecting usage data from the users. I can also use data from a third-party application to control the information shown on the application. I can choose to display certain content to only a particular set of people, contextually. Another way to improve content strategy is to look at the search phrases used in the application. Adding relevant help content on search terms that yield no results is a great way to bridge content gaps.
Make Your Content Intelligent Using Whatfix
Whatfix provides in-app, contextualized, and intelligent help content to users using Whatfix. Whatfix combines integrated experiences and contextual, real-time help with insightful analytics to help Fortune companies reduce content creation costs by over 30%.
According to some studies, it has been identified that people forget almost 70% of what they learn in a matter of 24 hours. Because of this poor retention rate, an organization’s investment in traditional help methods might go in vain.
Learning in the flow of work, enabled by Whatfix, addresses the pain point. Whatfix augments training by helping customers in learning within the software or application while working on it. This method eliminates the gap between theory and practice, which automatically engages customers’ memory and accelerates learning.
To learn more about how we can help your organization build intelligent content, reach out to us to book a personalized demo. You will be impressed at how DAP solutions like Whatfix are changing the way content is being consumed, just like me!
This is my journey of being a contextual technical writer with Whatfix
My life truly changed after Whatfix, and I can bet – so has it for my users.
Now, you know how to change life for your users too!