Not to be the fashion police here, but as your end users look to your website for help and support content it’s time to make sure your style is in check. Don’t be caught with inconsistent punctuation or overusing quotation marks, make certain that your content is organized and easily accessed (and PLEASE don’t leave the house wearing socks with sandals)!
It is important that you develop a style guide for internal use as you create help and FAQ articles, support documents and technical content for your end users. This guide will help immensely in building a repeatable, scalable and effective online help and support resource for your customers.
Here are 3 reasons why:
Decrease development time.
Not only does a professional style guide provide consistency across your content (and ultimately provide a more professional look and feel), it also allows you to build your support resource library with ease, decreasing the time to develop new content. You will no longer have to make decisions like “should it be voicemail or voice mail, or VoiceMail”?
Your style guide should also make it clear how writers are to handle:
- Headings (and how they are capitalized)
- Lists (whether they are capitalized and how they are punctuated)
- Numbers (when they should be spelled in full)
Now, when you hire your army of technical writers to create content to support your next launch – you simply hand them the style guide and away they go. Edit and review cycles get shorter and work gets done faster.
Look like a pro.
Many elements in a technical writing style guide don’t have right or wrong answers. For example, should screenshot images have red callouts or blue callouts? Arrows or circles? While there might be studies on the effectiveness of one color over the other – really it’s just a preference. The fashion police won’t pull you over unless you use them interchangeably.
New technology terms – no problem.
As technology changes, so do the terms, acronyms and industry jargon. Your style guide should include a list or frequently used industry terms and how they should be used in your writing. This makes it easy to evolve your style guide, keeping up with ever changing technology.
If you think your organization is “too small” for something so formal, think again. Taking the time to build this will save you incredible amounts of time in the long run and allow you to focus on the actual content (steps and technical instructions that help your end users) versus the editing style.
Here is a resource to help you get started: Writing Style Guide for Web – Free Template