Is your documentation a well planned, well written and integral part of your product or business?
Or is it just an after thought, hastily written by a staff member or developer. Here's some things you should think about:
Why is good documentation important?
Documentation is an important part of your product's user interface.
The quality of your user manual and online help and has a major impact on user satisfaction. Good documentation adds value to your product by making it easier to understand and use.
Good documentation can increase sales and reduce costs
Good documentation helps your customers feel secure about buying another product from your company. Good documentation can also reduce costs by minimising calls to customer service and technical support staff.
Our documentation philosophy
Non-technical writing - The term "technical writing" has
evolved because it involves documenting a technical product.
However, as documentation is often intended to be used by a
non-technical consumer audience, writing in a technical manner is
not effective. The overriding principle behind our documentation
process therefore is to write with the user in mind, or in other
words - non-technical writing.
Understand the audience - In addition to understanding the software inside and out, it is equally important to understand the audience - who the user is and how much can we assume they already know. User surveys often indicate that users are far less comfortable with technology that we assume they are.
Make it easy for the user - Let's face it, a lot of people hate reading manuals - too many manuals are hard to read and harder to use. Good documentation must get the information across to the reader as quickly, easily and as enjoyably as possible. It should make it easy for users to quickly find the information they need by incorporating effective design, organisation, indexing and extensive cross-referencing.
Communicate with your staff - Too often, users cannot find the answers they want in the documentation. We work with your technical support staff and programmers to ensure that the documentation includes the information and answers that users need. Technical support staff know what questions the users ask and what level the users are at. Developers know the areas of the program that users require additional critical details for. Establishing good relations with your staff helps us meet the needs of your users.
Our documentation team has a decade of experience providing end-user documentation including user guides, training manuals and online help for:
- Financial software including payroll, rostering, tax, accounting, banking and other financial systems.
- Telecom industry software documentation.
- Web software documentation, content and interface design.
- End-user documentation including user guides, training manuals and online help.
User guides and reference manuals
We specialise in authoring documentation for computer software, particularly finance, accounting, payroll and tax software. We can produce any kind of documentation you need, from simple quick-start guides and complete user manuals to comprehensive reference manuals.
All documentation is written with the intended audience in mind and designed to make your software (or processes) easier to understand and use.
Training guides, tutorials - whatever you choose to call them, are often a new user's first experience with your product. It is important to make sure that experience is a good one and that the user feels that their time was well spent. We write training manuals that are more than just a simple "walk-through" description. A good training manual must be written in a way that makes learning easy and non-confronting, and should ensure that the student retains as much information as possible. In the case of training manuals, the method is at least as important as the content.
Online help files
The biggest problem with most help files is that users have a hard time finding what they want. We make it easy for users to find what they want by ensuring that the information can be accessed in a number of different ways and making full use of WinHelp features such as indexing, contents, browse sequences, navigation tabs, and carefully designed structure.
Another problem common to many help files is they are short on content. Our approach is to ensure that all of the information in the manual is also accessible in the help, although wherever possible in a condensed format that focuses on step-by-step instructions.
Most documents can be easily converted into PDF format. Portable Document Format (PDF) has become a very popular format for distributing documents because of it's advantages over other document formats:
- Universality - PDF files can be viewed across a broad range of hardware and operating systems, including Windows, Mac, Linux, IBM, OS/2 and others'.
- Hypertext linking - PDF files contain hypertext linking which allows users to quickly jump to cross-referencing, or from the table of contents or index to the relevant document page.
- Document integrity - a PDF version of a document retains the same layout, fonts, styles, page numbering and images as the original document. You can lock the document so that users cannot alter it. You can even lock the document so that users cannot copy from it.
- Web compatible - PDF files can be viewed in most web browsers, downloaded or emailed. Most Internet users already have the PDF reader installed, often as a standard browser plug-in.
Upgrading existing documentation
Sometimes your existing documentation is adequate but the look and feel of it is a bit dated. Maybe it doesn't project the professional image you want. An easy solution is to upgrade your existing documentation without having to re-write it. You can specify as much or as little as you like - you would be amazed at the difference a day or two can make to a user manual. Some upgrading ideas include:
- Reformatting your documents so that the format is consistent within the document and between documents.
- Reformatting to improve the look of your documents, make them more colourful, easier to read and better presented.
- Converting documents to a different format, such as PDF or Word.
- Improving grammar and spelling.
- Reorganising content so that it flows more logically.
- Localising to reflect local terminology (for example, converting an American document to reflect Australian terminology and spelling).
Software testing and interface
Our extensive experience in software testing and interface design adds to our documentation abilities and allows us to provide an additional quality control resource. Our documentation experience allows us to view your product or systems through a user's eyes and make recommendations to improve your user's experience.