Last updated on Apr 12, 2021
Manasi Gandhi, Technical Writer at IBM, joins us in this episode of Knowledge Base Ninja to share the best practices she follows when creating documents. Check out all the other episodes of Knowledgebase Ninja here.
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Manasi’s journey into technical documentation
Manasi loved to write from a young age and always wanted to pursue her career as a technical writer. After college, while she was hunting for writing courses she ended up meeting the director of the Master of Science and Technical Communication Program at NC State University of North Carolina, this was when Manasi enrolled herself in the program and finally graduated as a technical writer in Dec 2019.
Manasi’s documentation process
When starting the process of creating documentation, Manasi makes sure to conduct detailed research about the product or feature. This also involves design thinking and understanding of the user’s perspective. She also likes to test the product if possible before starting to write.
When all these things are taken into consideration, Manasi writes the initial draft, which goes into several departments before it is prepared for being published. Here are the stages that Manasi’s document goes through.
Manasi’s nature of documentation
Gowri questioned Manasi as to whether her documentation is available for the public or not. To this, Manasi answered that her documentation is publicly available and it can be looked up in the documentation of IBM Company or can be searched via Google as well.
However, Manasi is not sure if the documentation is only available for enterprise users. She further added, she has to look into it, but the majority of the documentation is available publicly.
Experience in technical writing
Manasi is relatively new in the field of technical writing, but she has gained experience by becoming an intern while she was completing her program at NC State University. In 2019, she joined IBM as an intern and progressed to become a full-time technical writer with the company in 2020.
Importance of quality documentation
According to Manasi, quality documentation depends on factors that include clarity, conscience, accuracy, accessibility, and user’s understanding. If these factors are taken into consideration before writing any documentation, the result would be on par with quality.
Enforcing quality documentation also results in less inquiry by the users and fewer calls at the service centre. This eventually reduces the cost of the organisation as users can troubleshoot problems without the need to consult customer service.
How to generate organic traffic?
Manasi says IBM has a high standard of documentation and they try to create quality documentation that is clear, easy to understand, and accessible to all the users. These are the strategies IBM follows to generate organic traffic.
Who has inspired Manasi in her career as a technical writer?
To this, Manasi says she has learned technical writing from lots of people. She thanked her professors at the university who has taught and helped her understand the broader perspective of quality documentation not only for an organisation but the world in general.
With technology playing an essential role in today’s world, quality documentation is also necessary for our everyday lives. She further added that IBM had been a great place of learning for her. After joining IBM, she got hands-on experience with documentation that is very detailed. And when it comes to quality documents – each detail plays a pivotal role.
She also credited her learning to her peers, colleagues, and team members who help, teach and support her at every step of the way.
Manasi’s go-to resource to learn about documentation
Manasi’s is recently reading a book named “Strategic writing for UX” which is helping her understand the user’s perspective. She highly recommends this book to all the new technical writers as it helps in understanding how words can have dynamic effects on the users.
Manasi’s documentation related advice for her 20-year old self
Manasi’s advice to her 20 years self would be to research more about the different writing professions. She wished if she knew more about the technical writing courses at that time – she would have done them before. But she is happy she has finally found the profession that she loves.
Final words from Manasi
Manasi emphasises that we, as a technical writer, need to be more emphatic to our users and any piece of documentation that we write needs to be inclusive. Terminology we use needs to be more assertive in the background of the current events happening like black lives matters.