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The Creative Side of Writing Technical Documentation with Mandy Patterson of Sprout Social

The Creative Side of Writing Technical Documentation with Mandy Patterson of Sprout Social

Mandy Patterson, the Senior Technical Writer at Sprout Social, joined us in this episode of Knowledgebase Ninja Podcast to share the creative side of writing technical documentation, how to analyse users’ persona, and how to adapt the perfect tone for your document. Check out all the other episodes here.

Key Facts

  • Mandy Patterson’s LinkedIn
  • Sprout Social website
  • Sprout Social public-facing documentation website
  • Mandy Patterson has a Masters in professional, technical, business, and scientific writing from Missouri State University
  • Post-graduation, Mandy completed her internship, which led to a full-time job in technical documentation at Relativity in Chicago
  • Mandy teaches technical communication remotely for Missouri State University

Key Takeaways

  • Mandy’s technical communication and writing journey started in college. She did her AP English class in high school, B.S. and Masters in professional, technical, business, and scientific writing from Missouri State University
  • Mandy is the first technical writer at Sprout Social and has designed the entire writing process for them. She works closely with the product marketing team, product management team, SEO specialist and creative team
  • The documentation process at Sprout Social starts by understanding the audience 
  • Mandy writes content for the Help Center, which is reviewed by product marketers (to check if the product updates are aligned with the story) and product managers (to check on the technical updates)
  • Mandy admits to having found a creative side of technical writing by working alongside visual designers at Sprout Social 
  • Workflow management at Sprout Social is managed through Jira
  • Mandy maintains a personal spreadsheet that she calls Help Center WIPs. This sheet tracks; 
    • When the updates will go live
    • Which updates are already live
    • Links to the relevant documentation
    • And finally, links to collaborative documents used to create the article
  • Understanding users’ persona is the key to persuasive technical writing. To deliver quality content, Mandy considers questions like – why would the audience approach a help centre? How would the information make them feel? If the information will be relevant for the audience? – It all adds up to the quality of the document 
  • When creating a document, it’s essential to consider the voice/tone of the documentation
  • Sprout Social has its own technical communication style guide
  • Mandy works with the creative director of their brand who checks Mandy’s work to make sure it encompasses the brand’s image and all technical terms 
  • Sprout Social uses Google Analytics to run matrix on the help centre to detect organic traffic

Who has inspired Mandy in documentation?

  • Tracy Dalton – Senior Instructor at Missouri State University

Mandy’s favourite documentation related resources 

What documentation related advice would Mandy give to her 20-year-old self?

Mandy would tell her 20-year-old self to keep it creative and to use her voice. Be confident and look at the bigger picture. Your opinions and voice are valid, and they should be considered thoroughly.

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