Most technical writers have little idea how their deliverables are used, if at all.
We strive to ensure that the content is technically correct, that the deliverables adhere to the company style guide, and that the items ship before or on the agreed-upon deadlines.
After successfully shipping, meaningful user feedback is hardly a deluge, if there’s anything at all. More realistically, it is a trickle—some anecdotal feedback that a user liked something we wrote, or an e-mail that the sales representative thought it hit the mark.
Web 2.0 makes it easier to connect to users. Anyone with an Internet connection and a computer can create a YouTube video, add some content to a Wikipedia page, write a blog, and so on. For technical writers, this means it’s easy for our users to add comments on our help topics or web pages.
Here are two relatively simple—and free—ways you can use technology to connect with your users.
Feedback Forms and Commenting
At http://wufoo.com/examples/, you can add many types of forms to a web page or help topic without having to code anything. Using an embedded Contact Form, your users do not have to leave the site and you do not have to disseminate an email address that could be a target of spam mail.
Another site worth visiting is http://disqus.com, which enables your users to add comments to a web site or online help topic. Similar to a blog, your users can respond to a help topic that you’ve written and you can monitor and respond to the feedback by e-mail using your computer, iPhone, or Android phone. Disqus also enables users to click a button when they like a topic or web page you’ve authored, without requiring them to add a comment.
If you’d prefer not to add HTML code to your online help or web pages, you can also use Adobe RoboHelp to enable commenting as you long as you use the company’s Adobe AIR output format. To learn more about the details of this option, visit technical writer Sarah Maddox’s blog.