Developing Effective User Documentation

Sharon Burton, Anthrobytes Consulting


Developing user documentation is not simply documenting everything on the interface, nor is it documenting every task the user can possibly do with the product. And whatever we develop must ship on time and fit in the budget for the project.

Our users need content that supports them in their tasks and helps them understand, regardless of their level of experience with this product. Our management needs something that meets the deadlines, is within budget, and reduces customer support calls. Our customer experience team needs content that delights our customers so they'll purchase from us again.

This six-session online class with Sharon Burton provides specific ways to meet all these needs and not make you crazy in the process. Learn what "delightful" user documentation is and how to create it, how to plan meeting deadlines and deliverables, and how to meet the cost requirements of your company.

Session Descriptions

Session 1

Good writing guidelines—what are they and how do we know?

Session 2

Identifying our audience—who are we developing content for and how do we know?

Session 3

Planning—what are we delivering, when and how? What will it cost? When should we bring in contractors?

Session 4

Writing for multiple audiences—when and how can we layer information for different audiences?

Session 5

Reviewing and delivering content—how to best manage reviews and deliver on time?

Session 6

Additional topics, including planning for localization and social media in tech comm.

Presenter Biography

Sharon Burton is a nationally recognized practitioner, business expert, teacher, and speaker in the field of technical communication. With almost 20 years of experience in the field, she has consulted with large and small companies to improve their product documentation and/or their documentation processes. Sharon has received many awards from organizations such as the Society for Technical Communication (STC) and Apex, including the designation of Associate Fellow from STC.

Before becoming product manager/product evangelist with Author-it, she held the same position at MadCap Software; prior to that she was technical publication manager at a large company in Southern California where she built a team of 13 writers. Prior to that position, Sharon owned and ran Anthrobytes Consulting for 10 years.

Sharon is also a PhD candidate in Cultural Anthropology and an adjunct professor in the engineering department at the University of California, Riverside, where she teaches technical communications to young engineers. An occasional newspaper columnist, her articles on life in Southern California have appeared in the Los Angeles Times and the Inland Empire Weekly.