As a technical writer, one of my main responsibilities is to translate complex concepts and product features into an easy- to-digest format for my targeted audience. Simply put - I create content that will enable users to better familiarize themselves with our products. In order to achieve this goal, the information has to be easily accessible. It also needs to make sense to the person reviewing it. Most importantly, the content has to be accurate. Sounds simple right? Well, not quite. As the saying goes: it takes a village.
How do I make it happen? Spoiler alert -— it entails collaborating with multiple teams and individuals, such as product designers, engineers, product managers, and support agents. Working closely with the User Experience (UX) team in reviewing design prototypes is the first of many steps in this process. UX designers have the complicated task of producing illustrations and animations for new product features. They are also tasked with mapping out how users will navigate through our products, while taking into account the overall user experience.
To assist with the design process, I help review proposed workflows and word choices that describe a particular feature within a product. Why does it matter? Well, certain words mean different things to different people in different contexts - I know that was a mouthful, so let me explain. If I were to ask you the meaning of "Fuze Connectors", what would be your first thought? How about "Fuze Integrations''? Is it evident what functionality we are referring to? Until recently, "Fuze Connectors" was meant to describe integrations with other third party tools. Since that naming convention could be confusing to our users, it was recommended that we rename it to "Fuze Integrations''. Once that change went into effect, it made it easier to create end-user content that referred to integrations with Fuze.
How do I get started with creating content? Here are some of the steps I usually follow:
1. Identifying content to write.
One of the first steps to achieving a positive user experience is identifying the content that will need to be created. Before a new product functionality is released to our customers, it is crucial that we craft documentation describing the said feature. The objective of any planned documentation is to clearly summarize the benefits of the new feature, and provide step by instructions (when applicable) on how to utilize the feature. Our online help (Fuze Help Center) provides us with the opportunity to highlight our product features to our customers.
As an example, we recently released a new functionality allowing users to join third-party meetings from within the Fuze application. I was tasked with documenting this new feature in the Fuze Help Center. When creating new content, my objective is to educate customers by providing them with a reference document, in case they have questions about the functionality. It is also beneficial to demonstrate to end-users how this new feature could benefit them. While embarking on this project, I took my own advice and followed the steps laid out in this blog. The completed article is Joining a Third-Party Meeting with Fuze.
2. Testing out new product features.
One of the favorite parts of my job is being able to test out unreleased versions of the product. It gives me the opportunity to familiarize myself with upcoming features, and enables me to provide constructive feedback to the design and product teams. Testing out new functionality in this manner also allows me to put myself in a user’s shoes. When reviewing new features, I usually click every button, icon, and/or link that is required to perform a certain task associated with the new functionality. I also review any text within the product's user interface to ensure there are no spelling mistakes. Any identified issues are reported to the appropriate teams in the hope that they are resolved before the actual release of the new feature.
The testing phase is the ideal time to start formulating a plan for presenting this new feature to an end-user, in a way they’ll easily understand it.
3. Drafting new content.
One of the most important steps is the creation of the content—the actual writing. Information can be presented in various formats such as: video, text, or text and images. In my experience creating end-user content, having some form of visual aid along with text provides the best overall user experience. However, not all content requires images or a video tutorial. Content with step by step instructions usually benefit the most from some form of visual aid/screenshots. It makes it easier for users to follow along and replicate each scenario.
After creating the first draft, it is not lost on me that there will be several iterations of the content. Part of being a technical writer is ensuring that grammatical mistakes are non-existent, and that I get feedback and rethink anything that is unclear. Feedback and revisions are a huge part of the UX practice, and documentation is no different!
4. Reviewing written instructions and finalizing content.
The moment of truth for any writer is testing out one’s written instructions, and ensuring the information laid out matches the desired outcome. Sometimes, there might be more than one way of performing a certain task. As a writer, you can either document all the possibilities or you can focus on the most likely actions a user will perform to complete a task. I like to keep it simple - If you were given the option of going through 5 steps vs 10 steps to perform an action, I am pretty sure you would choose the option with the fewer steps. I use that same mindset when deciding how to document a task. However, certain tasks can be accomplished through different methods. Documenting some of these possibilities offers end-users the opportunity to select the option that best suits their needs.
Before finalizing any newly-created content, it is critical that we ensure the information within is accurate. If necessary, any additional documentation updates are performed before the content is ready to be published.
5. Monitoring customer feedback.
Once the new feature has been released and any related content published, the work of a technical writer is not done. Here at Fuze, we are constantly monitoring customer feedback for content optimization opportunities. Simply put - users are encouraged to share feedback with us about our product and content. That information is reviewed on a regular basis for any actionable feedback. We make every effort to incorporate our customer’s suggestions in enhancing our content.
In summary, improving the user experience does not happen overnight. It takes planning, collaboration, customer-focused content, empowering our customers to provide feedback, and the implementation of content optimization initiatives.
If you would like to learn more about the features associated with our products, we recommend taking a look at the Fuze Help Center. You can browse by product category such as Fuze Desktop and Web, or perform a search in the available search window. While reviewing an article on our help pages, you can share any content-related feedback with us from the Was this information helpful? survey window that appears.
Our hope is that you find our content both engaging and helpful, and it allows you to do your best work. We encourage you to leverage the Fuze Help Center as your trusted documentation resource.