In technical writing, setting up a content strategy before starting to write your documentation is mandatory. Indeed, before any other things, it is essential for any technical writer to ask themselves a few questions if they want to create a relevant and useful documentation. By asking the right questions, the technical writer defines the objectives of its documentation :
- What is the purpose of this documentation ?
- What is the goal ?
- What is the target audience ?
- Where will this content be published ?
2°) The content of a technical document gives information about the functionalities and the procedures to set up and use a product. The purpose of my documentation is then to help the client use the product properly and efficiently .
3°) Defining the target audience of the documentation is an important step because many elements will take this criterion into account during the writing process. For example, the level and type of language will differ depending on if the audience is rather young or old. Here, the goal is to try and get as close to the target audience as possible to better fit the client’s needs. Furthermore, the target audience will also influence the document’s layout. Indeed, depending on the company and on the missions assigned to the technical writer, they may be in charge of creating the layout of the document. Once again, the graphics, colours, typography, etc. will not be the same for an audience of young teenagers as for an audience of older people.
4°) Will the documentation be published online ? Or will it be printed ? Depending on the type of product for which the documentation is created, the output format will differ and most importantly will be adapted to the product and its packaging. For example, for a software or website, an online format will be more logically used, while for a board game, a paper format will be used.
You now have at your disposal a basic knowledge of what will allow you to create a relevant technical documentation. However, do not forget it is only one of the many steps preceding the writing of a technical document. The next step will be to learn the writing techniques and methods required for a clear and effective documentation.
Written by Anne-Laure Zamarreno
Translated by Arthur Chevallier-Letort