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Top 10 posts, podcasts, tweets of 2014 -- and what it all means

by Tom Johnson on Jan 5, 2015
categories: api-doc beginnersditatechnical-writing

Here's a look at the top 10 posts, podcasts, and tweets published in 2014 on I'd Rather Be Writing. After the lists, I explain my takeaways from looking at the metrics.

Top 10 posts written in 2014

Based on Google Analytics, these 10 posts written in 2014 received the most traffic:

  1. A simple way to write, edit, and publish documentation online using Google Docs and Markdown
  2. 10 technical writing principles to live by
  3. Do I need to take courses in technical writing? Guest post by Laura Palmer
  4. Writing skills versus technical skills, or, What I realized in solving a Sudoku puzzle
  5. Gamification and user engagement in e-learning and documentation
  6. The appeal of DITA
  7. Growing trends for APIs and my favorite resources to learn technical information
  8. DITA's output does not require separation of tasks from concepts
  9. Single-page docs versus “Click Insanity”
  10. Outside the tech comm tool bubble, there is a wide, wide world

Most popular posts of all-time

These 10 posts received the most traffic overall, regardless of the publication date. Many of these posts have publication dates prior to 2014.

  1. JavaScript: Events and Listeners
  2. Technical Writing Careers — Answering 13 Questions about Technical Writing Jobs
  3. Quick Reference Guides: Short and Sweet Documentation
  4. Seamlessly Integrating a Blog into Your Non-Blog Website
  5. Sample Expand and Collapse Code with Twisting Buttons
  6. How to Create Video Tutorials — A Five Step Process
  7. Quick reference guides
  8. Are Certificate Programs Helpful for Transitioning into Technical Writing? (Collaborative Post)
  9. How I create video tutorials
  10. Introduction to getting a job in technical writing (TW Job)

Top 10 posts with most comments in 2014

These 10 posts written in 2014 had the most comments:

  1. 10 technical writing principles to live by (38 comments)
  2. Why developers will never adopt DITA (31 comments)
  3. The Appeal of DITA (29 comments)
  4. Strategies for using links with DITA (27 comments)
  5. The future of tech comm is developer doc (25 comments)
  6. DITA: Limitations with the chunk="to-content" attribute in relationship tables (25 comments)
  7. DITA: Why DITA, metadata, working in code and author views, and relationship tables (20 comments)
  8. Now that debts are paid off, plan to travel the world for a year, documenting things (20 comments)
  9. DITA's output does not require separation of tasks from concepts (15 comments)
  10. soap! A new conference for technical writers in Poland (11 comments)

Top 10 posts with most comments all-time

These 10 posts have the most comments on my site regardless of the publication date. I published many of these posts prior to 2014.

  1. Twenty Usability Tips for Your Blog — Condensed from Dozens of Bloggers' Experiences (278 comments)
  2. Does DITA Encourage Authors to Fragment Information into a Million Little Pieces? (102 comments)
  3. Explain what you feel is an important feature for a help authoring tool and why (Flare Giveaway) (94 comments)
  4. Answering 13 Questions about Technical Writing Jobs (73 comments)
  5. A Reverse Approach to Help Authoring: Writing Documentation Post-Release (70 Comments)
  6. Is technical writing boring? (69 comments)
  7. If No One Reads the Manual, That's Okay (67 comments)
  8. Grasshoppers that Look Like Aliens (63 comments)
  9. Madcap Flare Review: 45 Things I Love About Flare, 31 Things I Hate About It (63 comments)
  10. What Does It Mean to Know How to Write? (62 comments)

Top 10 podcasts published in 2014

These podcasts published in 2014 received the most downloads.

  1. Introduction to API documentation: Interview with Scot Marvin (1,872 downloads)
  2. Lessons learned as a novice API technical writer — Interview with Mary Linderman (podcast) (1,797 downloads)
  3. Information Development World and the Customer Experience — A Podcast with Scott Abel and Val Swisher (1,580 downloads)
  4. Videos and reflections from the 2014 Intelligent Content Conference 1499
  5. Creating code samples for API/SDK documentation (webinar recording, slides, and audio) (1,279 downloads)
  6. Mark Baker on Every Page Is Page One (Intelligent Content 2014) (1,268 downloads)
  7. Recording of STC Berkeley presentation on why users can't find answers in help (1,253 downloads)
  8. Sarah O'Keefe on The Many Facets of Content Strategy (Intelligent Content 2014) (1,183 downloads)
  9. Recording of my STC Sacramento presentation — Why users can't find answers in help material (1,177 downloads)
  10. The Author Experience — Interview with Rick Yagodich (978 downloads)

Top 3 tweets posted in 2014

Here are my top 3 most retweeted tweets during 2014.

What do I make of all of this?

From these top 10 lists, the following are my takeaways:

  • Posts about DITA received the most comments, but DITA-focused posts weren't the most read. This tells me the DITA community is small and opinionated. DITA is also a controversial topic. (Alternatively, I'm an idiot when it comes to DITA, and lots of people stepped in to correct me during the year.)
  • The most popular posts of all time include how-to information. Instructional material is perhaps the most searched for information on the web. (What a great time to be a technical writer!)
  • There's a strong interest in technical writing careers, courses, and programs. A lot of people looking for information about technical writing are trying to transition into this field and are searching the web for information.
  • API documentation is a hot topic for podcasts, but podcasts on a variety of topics still remain popular as a form of information for my audience.

Based on these metrics, here are my plans for 2015:

  • Create more podcasts, especially on API documentation.
  • Write more instructional how-to posts.
  • Invite guest bloggers from academia to cover the tech comm program/certificate angle. (Interested?)
  • Post more tech how-to notes online. I already put my Java notes on my blog.
  • Stop posting so much about DITA. I really focused a lot on DITA during 2014. This year I want to focus more attention on API doc.

Am I missing anything from my interpretation of these metrics?

About Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

I'm an API technical writer based in the Seattle area. On this blog, I write about topics related to technical writing and communication — such as software documentation, API documentation, AI, information architecture, content strategy, writing processes, plain language, tech comm careers, and more. Check out my API documentation course if you're looking for more info about documenting APIs. Or see my posts on AI and AI course section for more on the latest in AI and tech comm.

If you're a technical writer and want to keep on top of the latest trends in the tech comm, be sure to subscribe to email updates below. You can also learn more about me or contact me. Finally, note that the opinions I express on my blog are my own points of view, not that of my employer.