Chris Ward, Technical Writer at Ethereum joins us in this episode of Knowledgebase Ninjas.
Connect with Chris and Ethereum here:
Chris moved from developing into writing
Chris studied software development but then found himself spending more time on the issue resolution and documentation. He then shifted over full time. Chris likes to call himself a “technical communicator” rather than a technical writer as he educates in multiple formats… not just writing.
Chris is often the first person into a startup in the documentation team but has also completed documentation for much larger businesses.
“Balancing inputs and outputs”
Chris shares that the most important factor to consider when creating quality documentation is to manage other stakeholders in the process:
These are the inputs. Chris also thinks it’s important to manage the output e.g. the documentation being up to date, grammatically correct and being consistent.
Difficulty in getting accurate documentation related success metrics
Chris has found it hard to accurately measure the impact of documentation. Some people will always contact support regardless, and yes you may experience a drop in support requests regarding a feature you recently documented, but maybe people just don’t have that issue anymore?
Though one tip Chris did share is to go and actually watch people use your tool, this will help you understand where people naturally get stuck and where documentation may be able to help.
Using documentation internally
Chris has seen that many of the teams he has been part of would really benefit by producing and organising internal documentation. He has seen that businesses see the benefit in this but rarely does someone step up to solve the problem
“Doc Ops” – a new field
Chris has set up technical tools that will provide metrics and steps of things to improve with documentation: spell and grammar checkers. This new field is being coined as “doc ops” – you heard it here first!
Chris’s greatest inspiration…
When Chris was working on a very technical project with Ethereum, he and the project owner disagreed on a lot of things… though this challenging experience enabled him to learn a lot.
Chris also mentioned that his favourite documentation resource is called: On Writing by Stephen King, it has helped Chris create more engaging writing.
Chris also shares that the single piece of advice he would give to his 20 year old self would be to “read more”.