Technical writers should also have design skills because even a good text can be spoiled by poor organization and design issues. Here, I want to share some design tips with you.
Before starting your documentation, think over its format — whether it’ll be online or printed, for desktop or mobile devices. Keep it in mind, and optimize your content while writing according to your target platform.
- Examine documentation samples
The experience of analyzing different types of documentation will work greatly for creating the right manuals. Even if the documentation sample is not relevant to your product, it’s still helpful. Here are some great examples:
- Use navigation elements
See also list, Mini-TOC, sidebar and other elements are essential in tech documentation because they help to reach the necessary part of documentation quickly. Make them more noticeable — the text color should differ from the navigation element color. Moreover, try to keep headings concise and clear to help a user find what they need. I think humor and figures of speech are inappropriate in headings.
- Highlight the necessary information
If there is important information that a user must read, use information and warning boxes but do not use it frequently, in order not to make your content hard to read.
If your documentation is a set of online manuals, put all these manuals on the main page.
The iiko online documentation portal is a good example of how you can manage different types of documentation from a single place. They have various documentation types, ranging from product manuals to GDPR support guides and license agreements.
This documentation is created in ClickHelp. More great ideas are here: ClickHelp Portal Gallery.
- Add information about your company. Your documentation should contain your company phone number, email or/and address. Speaking of a phone number and email, they should be in a convenient format with a link, so a user can just click to start messaging.
Unfortunately, I can’t cover all aspects of tech documentation design but I hope that these tricks and ideas help you create meaningful content.