One of our own, Corey Ganser, presented “Who Cares about Your Content?” at LavaCon this year. An interview with Corey was recently published on TechWhirl. In it, he stresses the steps content strategists and technical communicators must take in order to prove their worth and get the recognition they deserve. Here’s an excerpt from Corey’s TechWhirl interview: “Building the Business Case for Technical Communicators by Leveraging Talent, Skills and Passion”
Use Analytic Data of Content to Prove your Worth
Demonstrating value is crucial in the field of technical documentation. Corey suggests Tech communicators push project managers to include a content plan alongside their technology plan, financial plan, and product development plan… Backed by the data, “technical communicators can sit at the big table with the managers,” Corey says, and prove themselves as valuable resources for the company. As a result, a technical communicator can quantify the value of wearing multiple hats, and demonstrate how that their time, money, and energy are effectively being spent to benefit the company’s bottom line.
Corey continued by recommending that technical communicators prove their value to the company in various aspects. “People need to re-define their contribution to a company as a technical communicator. For example [technical communicators] often get caught up with buzzwords and instead need to think strategically as a content strategist about how users can interact with the company who produces the product.”
Documentation Should Help, Not Function as an Afterthought
In our interview, Corey focused on how documentation is often perceived as an afterthought.
Corey pointed out that documentation picks up the deficiencies of a product. He explained that, under this perception, documentation enhances a product and that end-users hardly notice that it is a form of polish for the product. His issue with documentation as product polish is that it doesn’t necessarily help the user find the information they are truly seeking. “Are users able to get their answers right away?” he asked. Users may get frustrated with self-help documentation and resort to calling customer support to find their answers, which may be costly and time-consuming for the company to support.
Analytics and the Technical Communications View of Content Strategy
Corey stressed the importance of Content Strategy as a tool to demonstrate value to upper management…and gain a larger role in the product development and the support cycle… Part of the strategy he advocates is making the online help system an effective self-service tool for the user. He suggests that we need to “understand what level users are willing to accept self-help” and ask the questions, “are users able to get their answer right away?” or are they engaging with an agent or chat with someone on the computer? The other side of the story is to use analytics inside the help documents to review how users access the help files. “We should reduce barriers and build support into the documentation and lead users to find the right answer,” Corey says. This approach of using analytic data not only shows how the documentation is used by the customer, but how it can be utilized to detect whether users may have issues with a product before it becomes a large technical support problem. Companies can then reach out to their clients quickly and respond to questions in a timely manner.
Corey has been working at MindTouch for over five years as the Product Marketing Specialist. His experience with sales, marketing, and customer support are important aspects to learn from for the field of technical communication. He earned a degree in Entrepreneurship from the University of St. Thomas and has been in the field of business and IT for over 10 years.
Corey presented at LavaCon about content strategy, titled, “Who Cares About Your Content?” His session summary can be found at http://techwhirl.com/conferences/lavacon/lavacon-session-summary-corey-ganser-on-who-cares-about-your-content/
Business Site: http://www.mindtouch.com/