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Centering Your Customer in Content

Speaker

Mysti Berry

Technical Writer III, Crowdstrike

Duration

28mins

Presentation

Download Deck

Technical writers are often considered as customer advocates, focusing on enhancing customers’ experiences through clear and concise documentation. While often receiving input centered on their company or product, they can employ techniques to prioritize the customer’s perspective. This approach is termed as “centering the customer in content”

In this session, Mysti Berry, Technical Writer III at CrowdStrike offers practical advice on content architecture, word choice, and workflow descriptions to maintain customer focus throughout the documentation.

Key takeaways

The customer at the center:

  • By employing specific grammatical, structural, and visual techniques, technical writers can create content that puts customers at the center, reduces confusion, and reinforces a customer-first company culture.

Centering customers in the grammatical subject of the sentence:

  • In English, almost every sentence except the imperative requires a subject. Product descriptions can be improved by making the customer as the subject of the sentence (using “you”) or by using active voice.
  • While this is a powerful technique, it’s not always applicable. Focus on incorporating it where it feels natural and provides value.

Centering by workflow diagrams:

  • Workflow diagrams often prioritize software functions over customer journeys. To center the customer, start with their goals, use a left-to-right flow, and frame steps around customer tasks.
  • Users often scan visuals first. A well-designed workflow should be clear and understandable without requiring viewers to read every detail.

Centering with structure:

  • Traditional content structures often prioritize persona (developer, admin, etc.), over user needs. Organizing content around user goals and tasks improves navigation and information accessibility.
  • Clear labels and user-centered landing pages further enhance usability. A well-structured website with clear categories and a powerful search function minimizes information foraging.

About the Speaker

Mysti Berry has been a technical writer for several decades, working for firms as varied as Salesforce and Twentieth Century Fox. She specializes in developer documentation, SaaS, and cybersecurity. Her Linguistics degrees (UC Santa Cruz) and her brief experience with screenwriting inform her approach to voice, tone, and person in technical documentation. Her side hustle is publishing award-winning crime-fiction short stories to raise money for causes that support voting rights in the United States.