Do we need change in the traditional document way?

As per my experience, very few people take documentation seriously. A lot of people opine that documentation is tideous and boring. Nobody has time to go through pages and pages. People want something interesting and easily accessable.

A few days ago, I was invited to my college as a guest speaker. The college had organized a career guidance session. I was asked to share views on technical writing as a career. I also had some instructional designers with me who had come to talk about their field. I noticed, youngsters are more interested in instructional designing as opposed to technical writing. For the same reasons I mentioned earlier.

It just got me thinking. Do we need to introduce more interesting mediums to technical writing? Will it help users connect to the content we deliver in a better way? The world is going digital. Almost everything is available at a 'touch' (Android and Windows phones). Can we switch to more interactive mediums than going the conventional documentation way?

My bet: Yes. We need to adapt ourselves to the changing demands of the market. I think it's time we focus more on Mobile, Podcasts, and Social Media.

Do share what you feel about this.

Views: 385

Comment by Sanjay G on March 13, 2012 at 6:35am

Yes, i do agree. That it why documentation has moved more towards html format.

Comment by Andrew Eccles on April 18, 2012 at 5:33pm

Yes there is the myth about the user guide that on the front page said, "Now that you have tried your way, try ours". :)

One help format that I have found to be extremely useful is the Mac OS X help - where you type your query in the help > search box and you're instantly taken to the menu item. I'd like see all help systems have this feature, not sure if Apple have patented this? Haven't really investigated this yet - right now I'm looking for a decent  help authoring solution that works on the mac.

Comment by Sandy Stuckless on April 19, 2012 at 8:36am

It's difficult for people when they hear the term 'technical writing' to get past the 'writing' part. Many believe that all we do is sit at a desk all day and hammer away at a keyboard when in actuality, nothing could be further from the truth. The fact that in most cases we still call it technical writing is a bit of a misnomer. We communicating, regardless of if it is the written word, a Power-Point presentation, or a 3-minute video clip online.

As you mentioned, we need to sell newbies on the different mediums 'documentation' takes. With the explosion of mobile and tablet technology, documentation has become less about the dusty manual stuck in a cupboard somewhere and more about YouTube videos, and how fast can you Google something.


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