You’re probably more interested in sales copy rather than technical copy. But sometimes writing instructional content for your site is necessary.
Examples of when you might need to employ technical writing:
- When you have a product that needs a little explanation about how to use it.
- When you need to describe a technical aspect of the way you ship products.
This is only a couple, but there are many times when you need to write in a way that doesn't have calls to action or leave too much room for guessing. The following are three tips to keep in mind whenever you write technical copy.
1. Pictures, diagrams, and lists are crucial
Sadly, most people don't want to read a lot these days and the last thing they want to read is a lengthy technical document. Thus, you should employ ways to show a technical topic on the site page or document using pictures or diagrams or plain old fashion lists, instead of using only words to explain the topic.
Many people who read technical documents (if reading is the proper term for just looking at images) report they looked mostly at the diagrams and pictures instead of relying on the written word.
This means you need to employ everything at your disposal to make graphical representations of the technical step in question. You can even use your digital camera to take a picture of your product at the stage in the process you are writing about.
For example, if you sell a type of embroidery that has to be placed on clothing a certain way, take a picture each step of the way (or make a video if you can). Use the written word to briefly explain what is going on, but more importantly, to highlight things that may not be clear in the picture, but that the reader must know.
2. Avoid technical jargon, but don't offend the more advanced readers
Avoid using technical terms without first explaining what they mean. This is especially true if the term is very specific to only one topic, rather than a more general technical term. People new to your product can get frustrated very fast if you immediately jump into technical wording, as much of the document will read as though it has big gaps of information in it, when really only certain key words are confusing.
However, you don't want to be over-simplistic in case you have more informed readers. You have to decide first if your product may already have a population of informed buyers; otherwise, you may want to treat the document as though all readers are new to the subject.
There is a balance, and you should not expect your document to be absolutely just enough information for every one of your customers. Knowing your target customer population and having an idea of how much they know already helps you determine the best tone and complexity to choose for your documents.
3. Join the trend of natural talk
More online companies are starting to use natural language in their technical documents. EverNote's new release of its terms of service are a good example. The trend is a positive one for the web, as it should attract more people to read important text because it requires less brain computation (which we all hate) to make sense of it.
This doesn't mean you should use smileys and LOLs in the document as though you are posting to your facebook timeline. But it does mean you don't have to go out of your way to write in a strict, tedious style that you are not used to. Using natural language should be easier on you, and more appealing to your customers.