January 17, 2011

Documentation: Let's (Not) Assume

E-Commerce
Recently, I've found myself saying 'let's assume the user…' more than a few times when discussing documentation projects with the technical writing team. And I cringe every time I say it. There are things that may seem obvious to us, but aren't obvious to users. So, you're a user. What would you like to see in the documentation? What should we assume about you and the types of documentation and online help you'd like to see us provide? The technical writing team at Seapine is always busy writing new documentation and updating existing documentation, not to mention maintaining and adding articles to the knowledgebase. We have a large documentation set, including PDFs and online help for TestTrack, Surround SCM, QA Wizard Pro, and the Seapine License Server. We also provide online-only documentation, like the TestTrack SDK docs or the new QA Wizard Pro how to guides. Some of the guides and online help are well-developed at this point, while others are honestly still playing catch up. One of our goals in 2011 is to start moving away from a focus on documenting features to a focus on helping users accomplish tasks. What other suggestions do you have? Here's your opportunity to provide feedback about our documentation. What works for you? What needs improvement?