As technical writers, we know that documentation is vital to the user experience but, the best technical writers know that the key to a great UX is to include the three “E”s: expectations, engagement, and empowerment. By keeping these three elements top-of-mind, technical writers can produce documentation that exceeds user expectations, engages them on a personal level, and empowers them to be successful. Let’s take a closer look at each of these three “E”s.
The first “E” stands for expectations. It’s important to set the right expectations for your users from the very beginning. For example, if you’re writing documentation for a complex piece of software, it’s important to let the user know that upfront. Otherwise, they may get frustrated when they encounter difficulty using the software and think it’s due to a lack of understanding on their part.
Your users will have expectations too. They expect the document to be clear, concise, and free of errors. They also expect it to be easy to navigate and understand. If your document falls short in any of these areas, users will likely become frustrated and give up on trying to use it.
The second “E” stands for engagement. In order to keep your users engaged with your documentation, you need to write in a clear and concise manner. Using plenty of headings and subheadings to break up the text will make it easier to scan and don’t forget to include plenty of examples and screenshots to illustrate key points.
In addition, it is also important to engage users on a personal level. One way to do this is by using case studies or real-world examples whenever possible After all, people are more likely to use something if they feel a personal connection to it. When writing your documentation, be sure to use a tone and style that is approachable and relatable. Write like you would speak— without using jargon or overly technical language.
The third “E” stands for empowerment. Your goal should be to empower your users with the knowledge they need to be successful. Give them the information they need to complete their tasks efficiently and effectively. Anticipate their questions and concerns ahead of time so that you can address them before they even have a chance to ask In addition, don’t forget to include links to additional resources where users can go for more help if they need it. By empowering your users, you’ll create advocates for your product or service—and for your company as a whole.
The next time you sit down to write some documentation, keep the UX in mind by including the three “E”s: expectations, engagement, and empowerment . . . your users will thank you for it!
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