I love the idea of simplicity in both my personal and professional lives.
At this stage in my life, most of the routine material items I buy offer me little pleasure. In our society, consumers are promised by corporations that materialism will bring us pleasure. But too much stuff can become a burden (at least, that’s what I’ve been told) because someone needs to sort, insure, and maintain all these assets. Too many items also creates visual clutter in a home.
I think one can apply the same ideas of simplicity to technical documentation. Occasionally, I’ve worked with writers who tend to write a lot about a subject, sometimes unnecessarily. They write paragraphs about a subject when one will do. In my opinion, these writers just love to write and they share everything they know about a subject. This to me is just more clutter.
Writing less is even more important for an online environment. Usability guru Jakob Nielsen argues that online writers should strive to write half of the content they would for a printed document. When I am faced with a lot of scrolling on a web site or in an online help system, I find the content can usually be edited or reorganized so the material is easier to digest. Here are a few benefits of writing less:
- Your users get to the point faster as they won’t have to endure endless scrolling online.
- Less time required to write and edit reams of content.
- Translation costs will be lower.
It’s not easier to write less content. Writing less is often harder because I usually have too much content that needs to be streamlined. But it’s a worthwhile goal. Less is more.