Writing effective documentation is tough. (That page is funny, check out the giant font. Cool)
Here are some tips from me:
- Write as if it was Playskool. In fact, browse through the Playskool website. They are writing good web copy! Ha, I love it when things come together like that. The whole site is designed to be easy to use for a child. Big font, Big line-spacing, Big padding, Big Margins.
- Eliminate 100% of the words. All of them. Then write ONLY what is required to get the point across and not one word extra. Seriously, good web copy does not have flourishes. To quote Steve Krug, “Happy Talk Must Die“. Get rid of all of it. Great web copy uses phrases, not sentences. It uses pictures, not words. It is obvious and doesn’t need additional jabber.
- Link to more detail. Some people want to dig into the weeds. This is where you need more detail, but still. Keep it crisp and concise.
- Don’t write obvious things. This sentence should be read by you, the user, for the enjoyment of this blog post. Especially when writing instructions for software. Don’t write, “Enter your email in the field next to the label that says ’email address’. This is 100% obvious and is annoying to read. Focus on the important parts.
- Pictures and prose are not the only choices. Put things in columns. Create comparative charts. Think out of the box. Be creative.
- And remember kids, “Have fun with it!“. Great web copy isn’t afraid to be amusing or fun. A sense of humor or a well placed analogy are good things.
Writing is communicating. Communicating is difficult. I hope these tips are useful.