Write the Docs: L.S. Cook – Scale for support without losing personality

I’m at Write the Docs today in Portland and will be post­ing notes from ses­sions through­out the day. These are all posted right after a talk fin­ishes so they’re rough around the edges.

Leona kicked talks off after lunch. She views support, documentation, and in-product design as all fundamentally connected. She asked, as writers, how we can not shut out those who learn best through non-written formats. People who are non-technical by trade are learning software through the products and documentation we create.

One hat for helping users is not better than the other. From engineering on up the stack, it’s all about helping users on some level. The public-facing content you have, though, is what gives users a personality to equate with your brand.

With in-product design there’s a lot to consider. You need to think about what device someone is using, the visual order of the design, and the overall flow. For docs particularly, the whitespace and visual order can greatly impact how someone reads and scans the information you present. Principles of good design can apply to other spheres as well.

Leona argued that support is the only that deserves the title of “ninja.” They’re the strongest link to triage and approach any 1:1 interaction with a customer as an opportunity for learning.

Documentation and tutorials are not synonyms. Tutorials are a unique type of content, and something that’s not used enough in the world of docs, we should change that. These tutorials are one opportunity for companies to make money. They can hook your users in to your product and really illustrate how the product will solve their problems.