Category Archives: findability

Recording of STC Berkeley presentation on why users can’t find answers in help

Berkeley recording podcast

A few weeks ago I gave a presentation to the STC Berkeley chapter on findability of help content. The recording is available here: Your browser does not support the audio element. Download MP3 (right-click, then Save Link As) For the slides, see Recording and slides for why users can’t find answers in help. The link Continue Reading »

DITA’s output does not require separation of tasks from concepts

concept and task thumb dita

One of the main challenges to embracing DITA is accepting the idea that tasks and concepts should be separated. However, despite the common assumption that concepts and tasks should live separately when you follow DITA, actually it’s not the case. You can combine concepts and tasks in DITA’s output through your ditamap. Additionally, you can Continue Reading »

Single sourcing and duplicate content (search engine optimization)


One of the challenges technical writers face in search engine optimizing their documentation is deliberating between single sourcing and duplicate content. Google tries to return a variety of unique results, rather the same versions. If you have multiple versions of the same content online, Google will likely just rank the version it perceives as best Continue Reading »

Introduction, frames, iframes, and tech comm tools (search engine optimization)


I’ve written previously about various topics related to search engine optimization. Now I want to start a series of posts focused specifically on SEO in the context of help documentation — that is, SEO for technical writers and their help material. The series will probably consist of 4 or 5 posts. Introduction to SEO for Continue Reading »

Collapsible header sections — more problematic than helpful


I’m a flip-flopper when it comes to collapsible sections. Sometimes I think they’re great, and other times I think they’re problematic. A while ago I converted nearly all of my help’s subheadings into collapsible sections. I trend toward longer help pages, and the collapsible heading sections seemed like a natural way to provide a kind Continue Reading »

A few things tech writers frequently say: Videos tedious, topics best when short, people just use Google, and more


I gave a presentation at the STC Berkeley chapter last week. It was a lively group, and people had a lot of insightful things to say. Here are a few comments various participants made. I want to highlight these assertions because I hear them so frequently. Videos are too tedious to watch — I’d rather Continue Reading »