How do you learn what you need to learn to be successful as a technical writer?

Keeping pace with new technology and information is a core challenge for tech writers. You can divide the needed knowledge into four areas: product, technology, user, and industry domains. To limit the scope in each domain, filter by the users' tasks. To find time for the learning, implement morning routines for gathering information and log issues for needed documentation. Then as you work on the documentation and find yourself lacking knowledge, jump into online resources to learn what you need. Read more »

Guest post: Design choices for organizing API reference content with other documentation

In this guest post, Derric Gilling, CEO at Moesif, explores various design choices for organizing API reference content in relation to the rest of your programming tutorials. He looks at three different strategies: (1) Centralized docs with separate API reference, (2) Centralized docs combined with API reference, and (3) Decentralized docs. The question of how to integrate API documentation into one seamless user experience -- particularly when you have auto-generated outputs of API reference topics from tools such as Swagger -- is a question that many technical writers regularly ask about. Read more »

Recording of User-Centered Design Principles for Organizing Documentation

I recently presented to the STC Twin Cities chapter on User-centered Design Principles for Organizing Documentation. When organizing your documentation, such as arranging navigation titles, workflows, or other wayfinding features, you can apply universal design principles to make your content more user centered. Some of these principles include Modularity, Hierarchy, Five hat racks, and Progressive disclosure. These design principles, based on solid user research from design gurus, will help users better find and navigate your help content. You can view the recording and audio from the event here. Read more »

Write the Docs Podcast #3 - Trends for 2017

In this episode of the Write the Docs podcast, we discuss top technical writing trends for 2017. Chris Ward discusses how more technical writers are interacting with support groups, and even being embedded within support departments. Jared Morgan discusses how docs are being planned for earlier in development cycles, as more product managers are seeing the value of docs. I talk about how more technical writers are treating documentation as code, and the challenges inherent in developer tools and workflows. Read more »