My writing colleagues and I recently presented on our favorite help systems from companies like Lego, Spotify, Google, and WordPress. Here are some things we found, and some implications for writers of help content.
Arbortext Editor is a software program that lets you do "structured writing"---a special kind of writing in which every piece of content you compose follows one or more predefined rules. In theory this helps writers to develop consistent, high-quality content. The problem is that the tool has a lot of serious shortcomings. Here's my wishlist of things to improve.
Last November I published an article in Intercom, a magazine produced by the Society for Technical Communication. It was paywalled at the time, but the exclusive rights period has since expired so I have copied it here. Synopsis: A regular part of the technical writer's job is to design document templates that help others jumpstart the writing process. How do our template design strategies change as more documentation moves from the print medium to web browsers and mobile devices?