Search-First Writing for Non-Writers (Open Source Bridge, 2013)

If people can’t use your software, you have already failed as a developer.

This talk digs in to how optimizing for search and using the existing technical assistance forums can put your product ahead of the pack. Technical writing, in all its variations, is a type of interface with your product. It incorporates everything from an error message to an implementation guide. How can you as a developer make deploying, using, and promoting your product as painless as possible? Make it searchable. Make finding the answer to a problem so trivially easy that your user barely even remembers they had a problem.

No one wants to be using software. They want to be data mining or manipulating beautiful photos or targeting advertising. Making them think about the software diverts them from what they want to be accomplishing. Use these documentation techniques to get them in and out and on their way.

(my secret is: I’m always angry when I have to read help)

Heidi Waterhouse

Heidi is a developer advocate at LaunchDarkly, a company that lets you make business decisions about your software at runtime. She spends a lot of time talking and writing about things you only thought you understood, and how they are connected. She also has an unhealthy fascination with near-disasters of the technical variety.