Friday, April 9, 2010

Who Needs Help?

I have been struggling to write the Help for a software application that has two separate groups of users and two separate interfaces. What a nightmare!

And yet, it’s been really positive because it forced me to focus on the users and their needs. Who are they? What are they trying to do? What do they see when they look at the screen?

Software users don’t care how a program works. They want to know how to use it. So I don’t simply explain all the different fields and functions. I also provide step-by-step instructions on how to do specific tasks – How do I set up a satellite interface, How do I import fuel downloads.

The focus of every writing project must be its audience, and it must address the question the reader will be asking, “What’s in it for me?” It can be great prose, but if it’s not relevant to the reader, they won’t bother to read it.

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