How to Write Documentation for People that Don’t Read


It's 3AM, do you know where your users are? If people want to learn how to use your product, where are they looking for help? Are they on your site, and if they're on your site, are they finding the right page?

Usability researchers have known for decades that users don't read word by word - they *scan* for the content they want.

If users can't make heads or tails of your documentation, they'll give up (a loss of revenue), remain ignorant of product features (another loss of revenue) or ask needless support questions (an increased cost).

In this talk we'll examine the *findability* of your documentation, and the text on the pages in your documentation. We'll examine usability research into how users read, look at several ways your documentation is failing busy users, and the lessons I learned conducting user tests at Twilio. We'll learn more about how users find the answers they are looking for, and the importance of spreading clear writing across not just your documentation, but your headlines and error messages in your API.

  • Conference: Write the Docs NA
  • Year: 2015

About the speaker

Kevin Burke