Deliver Context and Clarity

For the high-tech industry, documentation projects can run the spectrum from highly technical product-oriented guides to technical marketing materials. But regardless of format, all material should be clear and succinct; technical doesn’t have to mean convoluted.

Good documentation is written for the appropriate target audience — executives, administrators, end-users, and other roles should know at a glance what to read. Technical guides should go beyond documenting the what, providing context by adding the how and why.

Write what your audience needs

For the high-tech industry, product documentation can typically be lumped into the following categories:

  • Deployment/implementation guides
  • Administration/operations guides
  • User guides
  • Developer guides
  • Reference guides
  • Getting started guides
  • Write each document for the appropriate target audience, using language that speaks to them. Executives, administrators, technical decision makers, business decision makers, and end-users should all know what to read at a glance.
  • Go beyond documenting the what–add value by discussing the how and why when appropriate.
  • Provide a polished layout design for title page, chapter pages, facing body pages, etc. A professional documentation design enhances the product.
  • Use screen shots and other graphics to reinforce the text. Although images can be a significant resource cost, they can also greatly improve the reader’s experience.
  • Add tips, notes, warnings, and other “extras” in a document’s margins that highlight key functionality or warn of potential problems.
  • Supply cross-references throughout the books and create detailed indices to help the reader quickly find related information.

Sample Documentation Projects

Operations Manual

A manual for defining procedures to transform data from one format to another for an enterprise data transformation device

Consumer-Oriented User Guide

A user-friendly product guide developed for the consumer market

Developer's Guide

A technical paper that goes beyond a basic API reference

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