What You Will Get from the Course
You get complete guidance in structuring, writing and creating access to your Content. All you need to do is use the Course tools with your word processing or Content Management System to create the User Documents that Your Product Needs and Your Users Deserve.
Here's What's in the Course:
Everything is a matter of attitudes. Our interests, the amount of work we will put into a project, our relations with our fellow humans and our environment are all based on our attitudes. We start off the Course with a series of readings and audio lectures intended to get you thinking the right way about creating your great User Document.
We talk about Reality. This is something that many companies and writers seem to ignore, at their peril.
For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring. Carl Sagan
First Things to Do
What you should be doing as soon as you are assigned to the Writing Project.
Creating a Persona--an almost-real characterization of your User/Reader--based on your four dimensional analysis of your User. You will USE this Persona to help you write each portion of the User Document.
Other tools that you will learn and use include:
- Gathering Information, Interviewing
Especially what to do before you do any interviewing.
- An effective structure for your User Document and all of its Components
To help you relax and get through past (remembered) writing stresses.
Get the support you need, when you really need it, even if you cannot afford a professional editor. If you cannot afford any editor, we direct you to effective resources that will help you edit your writing.
- Documenting the Documentation Project
- How to get quickly past stumbling blocks as you write a draft
You will use a writing system based on the concepts of "Just in Time" production and agile programming. This technique engages the entire production team, and results in a more accurate document, produced more quickly and with less stress than the classic "waterfall" writing method (create an outline, get it approved, go away and write the document, suffer all the surprises when the "completed" document gets reviewed).
Creating Great Content
We believe that the usability of any User Document is related to the Content in the Document, and the access to the Content . For generating the Content we use these concepts:
- The User-Product Interaction Life Cycle
Our Document structure deals with all (after purchase) aspects of the User's interaction with your Product.
- Writing for the User's Wants, Interests and Needs
Our Goal is to help your User/Reader use your Product to meet his/her needs.
- Writing Easier and Faster
You create the first draft of any portion of your User Document by speaking the material to your Persona. This results in an easily-produced, low-stress first draft.
- Reviewing and Revising for Content and Clarity
We only discuss one point of grammar; your Editor handles the grammar checking.
- Using your Editor when you get stuck
- What formatting should be avoided and what formatting should be used
when writing a draft.
Creating Great Access to Your Great Content
Great Content is ineffective if it is not accessible. Once the Content is created, we enable your Readers to get access to what they need, and easily skip what is unimportant to them at the time. These are some of our access topics:
- A Few Critical Formatting Concepts
- Effective Use of Headings
- Using Internal Paragraph Headings
- Indexing your User Document
Testing Your Document
To eliminate end-of-project surprises, you will informally test each portion of the User Document as you produce it. Once you assemble the portions to create the complete User Document, you test to ensure that the Document provides excellent access to the information in it.
The Course describes formal document testing -- which you usually do not have time to do (Reality!).
More About the Course
The Course is insanely User-oriented. We are concerned with how the User wants and needs to use your product. We stress including all the information that your User might need. Using our effective access techniques, we make it easy for the User to find the information he/she needs, and skip what is unimportant at the time.
The Course includes many real-life examples. The names of the companies or products have been changed, but the examples are genuine. You will learn from the mistakes that writers make (NONE of these are grammar examples).