UX and documentation

Documentation is possibly the least enjoyed task of all developers and engineers. Writing good documentation means that you need to put yourself in the shoes of whoever is reading and try to make it easy for them to understand the system in the perspective you’re expressing.

Although all digital products aim to be super intuitive, to a level that a small baby can use it without ever needing to be taught how, sometimes this is not possible. It might be because the software itself is complex by nature, the device is complicated to use or something else. Documentation is the map that is done to make it easier for the user to navigate the multiple purposes and functionalities of the system.

If someone feels like they are lost while using the system, their feeling can’t be a good one. This means that a proper documentation might just be the life saving buoy that the user needs to get from a feeling of frustration into a feeling of relief or joy.

To write good documentation we need to take a non technical approach to the writing itself, think about the journeys the user has and explain the usage from that perspective. We need to take simple flows and go through them step by step and component by component, explaining the why and how of the things that are there, we need to use images, screenshots and videos when it makes sense to extend and complement the explanations.

It’s good to have a deep knowledge of system written down by the ones that know the most about it, usually the developers, however the developers are not the best at expressing their thoughts in a non technical way, so most of the times you should partner up a developer with a copy or someone that is more user driven, a marketing person, a communications person, a UX designer, etc. This will give the end user the best experience because we end up giving them the best knowledge but in an easily understandable way.

Some systems are rather big and complex and, unless we are writing to a technical user, writing documentation for the end user should be something that is not overlooked and underestimated in terms of difficulty.

Not everyone can write a good explanation, even when they are the ones that know the most about it, and a good explanation might be a very good differentiating factor in terms of user experience.

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