Since you are visiting our website then you probably know that we create software to help writers. We have years of experience of working with techcomm experts, so we know what is going on in the industry.
Being a client-oriented company, we pay a lot of attention to what our users are saying, and, in this post, we are going to share with you some features that are highly demanded by technical writers in a help authoring tool.
That’s probably the first thing to consider in technical writing software, really. Use cases of moving to new tools are different, but quite often they imply migrating already existing user manuals to this new HAT. And, that process needs to be as painless as possible. First, there should be the very possibility to import documentation stored in a certain format. Second, the help authoring tool needs to be able to understand and preserve the original formatting. These things are vital.
As far as exporting ready documents is concerned, this is again super important. We believe that a help authoring tool should be sufficient for a technical writing process and scenarios where you need to do extra converting after you received some output from your HAT are a no go.
Single-sourcing makes maintenance of technical documentation much easier. And this is a must-have for a lot of technical writers who work on big projects. But, actually, any type of project can benefit from single-sourcing this way. Plus, what single-sourcing allows is creating multiple outputs from one original source and that’s another thing people are looking for in a help authoring tool. It is actually a bunch of techniques working together. Learn more about the best practices of using single-sourcing here.
Branding and Design
Judging a book by its cover is wrong, but covers are still playing their part in our perception of things. Just like we can tell from looking at a book’s cover what genre it is and kind of guess what its content is like, we judge other things.
We can somehow tell whether a company is trustworthy depending on its corporate website, for example. Sometimes we can’t even say why exactly we feel like this, it just happens to be so subtle. We all have this hunch. This is, for example, what protects us from phishing attacks and other schemes. That’s approximately what we have from a reader’s perspective. For technical writers, this means that things like intuitive branding options and flexible design possibilities have a high priority and need to be included in a help authoring tool so that the final output looks professional and appealing.
This is, perhaps, not a go-to feature for some technical writers. If a HAT is missing the SSO option, it is not something that would stop you from using the tool. Given that SSO is not demanded by your company’s security policy, which is also the case sometimes as SSO decreases damage from hack attacks and improves data security. If you want to learn more about this technology, check out our article on single sign-on for dummies. It explains in simple words its core work principles and how exactly it is so secure. Supporting single sign-on is such a basic thing for us now thanks to Google and Facebook that an online-based documentation tool that doesn’t have it looks pretty weird.
Measuring various data allows a deeper understanding of what is going on within a project and how to improve things. While overanalyzing is really bad and we advise against it, you will need to keep track of certain data for sure. Our own tool for help authoring, ClickHelp, can equip you with dozens of ways to analyze things, and the best way to handle this is by working out a set of criteria to consider and using it to your benefit.
These are some of the highly-demanded features most tech writers would like to see in a technical writing tool. They are only general requirements, of course, but they work for the majority of documentation teams. But, sometimes, we are facing clients with very specific demands dictated by their use case.
What are you looking for in a HAT? Feel free to share!
Good luck with your technical writing!
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