Why and how should the interaction between users and technical writers be improved in online documentation?

Roxanne BOPOUNGO – Deborah CHAPLICE – Bouchra DRIF

Paris Diderot University, 2019/2020

Abstract

We have been living in a digital era for more than three decades. As a result, digital documentation prevails over paper formats. Technical writers have therefore adapted to the market reality, where people use several types of screen: computers, smartphones, tablets… Each screen has its own specificity, hence the importance to adjust digital documentation to provide better readability and a better understanding. Users need to understand documents instantaneously.

With the impactful rise of all types of social networks, the way we communicate and exchange information has evolved as well. Users want and need to quickly find what they are looking for. They tend to be less patient and focused and would not want to go through the whole documentation. The information within technical documentation must be of easy access, and most importantly, users must have access to it quickly.

Technical writers are therefore facing a challenge: they must adapt to the specificities of the digital world and create methods that allow users to communicate with them and/or to give them a useful feedback.

As of today, technical writing teams use methods inspired by blogs or social networks (FAQs, “like” buttons, comments etc.), in order to receive feedback from the readers. However, this approach is not always effective or relevant.

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