Every company, regardless if it has a very well established or a poor digital presence, has recognized the benefits of well-written help documentation shared with the customers. The need for those types of documents is not going to diminish anytime soon. At some point, even when streamlining the creation process with help authoring tools, an organization will have to hire a help author.
Help authoring has become a very lucrative career, attracting many people to pursue it. Since help authoring is one of the processes crucial to providing greater quality customer service and support, it is important to know which types of help authors you should never hire.
In this article, we will give you 3 types.
The Ones That Oversimplify Help Steps
Writing effective help documentation requires a lot of thinking and a bit of experience. If anyone approaches writing these documents too casually, the result would be a document that causes more confusion instead of resolving an issue for the one who reads it.
But, how can anyone predict what the end users will experience and what would they be looking for in help documents? Well, this is where the experience part kicks in. A help author with at least some experience in the field will not oversimplify help steps just to cover each one of the procedures regarding product or service usage.
Based on his best judgement, the help author has to participate in as much activities regarding the creating and launching of the product/service as possible. Only by doing so will he/she be able to know all the details that might cause confusion with customers. And then, he/she can elaborately write help for each of the actions.
Oversimplifying help steps comes as a symptom of a much serious problem. The authors who are oversimplifying help documents don’t know how to structure help documentation. The entire document has to be broken down into meaningful topics which will address different issues on a different level. If you hire one of these, you will not have documentation that provides an overview of the entire topic. And, the users won’t be able to quickly find the issue related to a specific function.
The Ones Who Don’t Test and Update Their Documentation
In order to be effective, help documentation has to be tested, revisited, reviewed, and updated on a regular basis. Help authors who take each task of their job as a ‘one-time’ effort are not going to be able to provide your customers with accurate, effective, most recent and updated help documents.
Let nobody fool you, even the most experienced and knowledgeable help authors are not able to produce the most complete help documentation. There will always be some missing instructions, things left unclear, and a common problem unaddressed. Especially if the person creating the help documentation knows how to use the service or product in question.
We can extend this flaw found in help authors with the one when help author doesn’t know how to function as part of the team and do not take criticism too well. In help authoring, criticism should be valued, as it not only offers the chance for professional growth but also ensures that every document provides as much as it can to a user.
Even after a help author reviews and tests the document he or she has written, there is still a big chance that something is still missing or left unclear. This is when it is of great value to hire an author who is willing to let someone else test it and provide their unbiased feedback.
Good help authors will use every chance they have to make tweaks that will improve the quality of the documents they are working on. Feedback during the very document creation process has incredible value and it ensures the success of the overall project.
The Ones Who Doesn’t Use Help Authoring Tools
The days of writing text documents in Notepad or any of the advanced text processing tools are long gone. Online help authoring opportunities provided by most advanced help authoring tools are taken by many successful companies. Hiring one who avoids using such tools will not only increase the time needed to write the documents, but you will also use a lot of the perks these software tools offer to companies.
Another downside of hiring an author who doesn’t use help authoring tools is the inability to participate in the creation of complex help documents with other help authors. Some projects may require from employees from other departments to participate too. Juggling documentation over emails may result in losing valuable information and working with documents that are not up to date with the latest contributions.
Furthermore, such help authors are not familiar with context sensitive help. This type of help tool enables authors to build a helpful environment and to be able to provide help exactly where it is needed. Losing on the opportunity to provide such a delightful experience for customers may cost the company more than it can withstand.
This is why it is important to work with help authors who are willing to learn, adopt and start using software technologies that make help authoring a breeze. On top of that, help authoring tools will enable them to utilize the power of SEO in order to boost search engine visibility for your company and the help documentation you have created.
By not hiring these three types of help authors, you will make sure that your help documentation serves its intended purposes – help your customers in the best and most efficient way possible. In order to make sure that none of the help authors mentioned above ends up on your payroll, make sure to adjust your interviewing process accordingly. Also, don’t make an exemption when it comes to them having provided a sample of their previous works and documented work processes.