Technical documentation has been around for ages, ever since humans needed help using the various tools and products without having the proper knowledge. For those of you who don’t know, technical documentation is a piece of documentation that is written by a technical writer explaining the functionality, architecture, and so on of a particular product. When users just receive a product, the function of technical documentation is to make it easy for them to read and understand how to use it, which includes a new website theme that they haven’t used before.
So how to write effective technical documentation for a website theme?
Do some research and make some preparations
Before you begin writing, be sure to know what is the important information you should include and how you will portray it in the document. Show the users how to install the theme or plugin, since there are various ways on how to do so. Explain how the users are able to navigate through your theme. Prepare the necessary resources the users would need and provide several links on how they could get them. Try to list down all the possible questions the users might have in order to include it in the document. Be sure to also only include relevant, straight to the point information to prevent any confusion for the user.
Get started on writing it
Once you’ve got all the important information laid out, you can start to write the table of content. Always remember and never assume a user knows or understands how to use your template. Website templates can be extremely confusing for some, especially those that are technology-challenged. Break down each of the functions into separate sections to make it easier for users to find the particular solution they are looking for.
As you write them, ensure you are using headings to make it clearer for the users as they are searching for the answer to their problems. For example, write a numbered tutorial when it comes to installing several plugins or inserting a new page, and so on.
One tip is to use screenshots in your technical documentation. This is because users tend to understand better if they see visual examples. Sure they can follow written instructions, but sometimes it is not the same as a picture showing exactly how to do it.
Constantly test, update and revise
You can send over your technical documentation to someone you know and get them to follow the instructions. That way, you can see if your written documentation is clear and concise enough for someone to follow and refer to. If the outcome isn’t that great, then you should revise it and constantly update it to make sure that it is perfect. Be sure to also include a F.A.Q section as this would really help the users. You can ask the testers to let you know what their questions are so that you can revise the document and include the answers.
Another tip is to try to avoid writing wordy sentences. Sometimes, the sentences that seem a bit run-on could easily be shortened. After all, users wouldn’t want to waste their time reading unnecessary information. They need a quick and efficient solution right off the bat.
When you’re checking your technical documentation, be sure to check if there are any grammatical errors or anything that you might have missed out on.
In terms of updating, let’s say you updated one of your premium themes and add a couple of new functionalities to enhance the website even more. If that’s the case, then you have to update your current technical documentation to help newer users that download premium themes from you. Any time you perform updates on your premium themes, the user expects well-written documentation especially for the price they pay. A good theme would have proper documentation included.
With WordPress constantly upgrading and changing, you as a web developer or designer should regularly update your themes as well in order to make sure they are all still compatible with the latest versions of WordPress. Your reputation will be affected if the majority of your themes, especially your premium themes, don’t work well with the newer versions of WordPress. Along with updating the themes to match with the newer versions, remember to also update your technical documentation.