I’m at Write The Docs EU today in Budapest and will post semi–unpolished notes from sessions throughout the day after each talk finishes.
Christine is a tech writer from Atlassian, who is best known for Jira and Confluence.
- Went from five to thirty designers in the last two years.
- Goal: Help casual users, too!
- Ten tech writers, 400 developers.
Techniques borrowed from designers are used for their writing.
Three main design principles (printed and framed, hanging on their office wall):
- Be familiar
- Grow with me (help users become power users)
- Give me clarity
Aside: Android UX principle is her personal favorite.
Audience/Personas — they printed them everywhere.
Designers took a year–long project:
- What role is a feature targeting.
- What is assumed skills/background
- How do
Leverage data from designers to help them craft better documentation.
Measure success by piggybacking:
- Usability testing to determine if they need documentation, and publishing FAQs (if necessary).
- Analytics results.
Diving into borrowing design techniques
Workshopping example: Empathy maps (to bring focus to the user)
- Better understand their feelings “before and after” a situation
- Work backwards from the “after” situation to create an ideal state, and empower users.
They’re huge fans of Post–Its:
- Easy to move ideas around.
- Excellent for separate collaboration and brainstorming.
- Inexpensive, mobile, and fun!
Workshopping example: Sparring sessions
- Critique session to bring group thinking into design and planning.
- Confirms if goals are met with the prototype.
Sparring with TWs (technical writers)
Before the session, TW sends:
- Draft to discuss
- List of goals in the document
Superb sparring session tips
- If your team is given to negativity, try positives–only for five minutes. Fantastic idea!
- Make sure everyone is heard. Use a checklist, or give everyone one minute to list feedback.
- Leave with at least three action items.
Workshopping example: 6–ups
- Divide a sheet into six parts.
- Focuses on ideal solutions.
- Gets out of thinking in words. (Draw!)
- Great method to build on ideas from colleagues.
Workshopping example: User stories
- How does a user get to a feature? Is it controlled? From many different areas with different goals?
- What does a user do before? What do they (usually) do next?
- If they fall out of line in the process, documentation is needed for additional context.
- Lo–Fi: Use colored stickers to “vote”, then build the document plan based on problem areas.
- Australian slang: “Doco” is short for documentation. :)
Finding the right projects — look for:
- A team that finds value in design and tech writing.
- A designer who sees value in the docs
- A new project that’s running lean and has some momentum.
- Look for projects that are data–driven.
Explore and expand
- Read design principles and techniques.
- Follow UX blogs.
- Write a documentation experience plan.