• Mcbride Frank posted an update 9 months, 3 weeks ago

    Take some tips from technical writing that will make your ideas clear and persuasive in the brand new reading environment of the web.

    Print media puts the reader in the passenger’s seat. Imagine if you don’t want a character to die? Imagine if you don’t like the direction the story has taken? Traditional reading is linear–you start at chapter one and you also go to the end, with no detours in between.

    Instruction manuals have always been different. Who reads instruction manuals from starting to end? Instead you dip into it, try something, and when that doesn’t seem to work, flip a few pages backward or forward and try again.

    Now the internet has turned into a huge manual where the reader can move around at will–technology has stolen authorial control. You will need to expect your readers to jump around. To reach your goals, anything you write for the web has to follow exactly the same three rules that technical writers use:

    Write in Chunks

    Readers choose. Understand that your audience isn’t expecting a story–they have specific goals. Points need to be self-contained and clearly marked to greatly help them find what they’re searching for and move on. Respect your reader’s time–don’t make them eat the sundae when all they need is the cherry.

    Follow write for us technology can structure your content by category, rank, location–but there should be a structure. By organizing your information you’re giving your reader a tool that lets them find what they’re looking for and skip what they don’t need. If you can’t find a structure that works, you have to define your points more clearly.

    Connect it Together

    You can’t force your reader to check out the road you’ve set for them, but you can give them access to information that supports your message. You shouldn’t be afraid to link, both to resources outside your document and to pages in it. Your role is to help them achieve their goals; point them towards resources that help them do that.

    Like technical writing, the internet is about helping people find information. Adopt a few of the principals of technical writing is likely to work to create it get results.