Outsourcing technical content services may be a smart move for your business. However, working with your agency to develop a proper technical content strategy is even smarter. The real question that most businesses have is how to determine and evaluate the technical writing delivered to meet business requirements.
High-quality content must have some markers or criteria through which developers can estimate the quality. Some businesses may use production metrics such as the number of pages or the hours it took. However, these businesses forget that the purpose of technical documentation is to close the chasm between the business and its customers.
In this sense, high-level technical content acts as a bridge and each technical writer serves as a part of customer service. In simpler words, high-quality content helps people find the perfect solution to their problems.
Where productivity metrics fail, qualitative analysis triumphs. Rather than measure the number of words in your technical content, businesses can use the following criteria to evaluate their content:
Coherence with Content Strategy
The first phase of working with your content agency is developing a content strategy. A content strategy is a two-way approach where both the business and the agency contribute.
The agency may inform the business about the resources it currently has and the extent of the responsibilities it is willing to take on. On the other hand, the business sets up expectations on the kind and quality of content the agency is required to deliver.
A strong and functional content strategy can help you meet your business objectives while also ensuring your customers are satisfied. Content that is specifically tailored to such a content strategy is considered high level.
When checking whether your content is coherent with the developed content strategy, we recommend considering three factors:
1. User Needs
First, check how well the content caters to your targeted audience. This can include checking the tone and voice. If the business caters to other developers, then the article may need a more professional tone. In addition, check whether the content is relevant to your audience. Irrelevant content can lead to shorter visits and fewer organic sales.
2. Company Objectives
Also, check if it aligns with the company objectives you detailed within your content strategy. For instance, a major part of your goal may be to provide expert advice and accurate information. However, if the content includes incorrect information or quotes unreliable sources, then the content may adversely affect the integrity of your business.
All in all, high-level content is aligned with your company goals and caters to the voice and tone of your targeted audience.
The other part of your evaluation criteria should involve the structure. Check how well the content meets with the pre-determined structure in the technical content strategy. This may be a culmination of how the information is organised and presented.
For example, a business may decide on having a video or an infographic at least once in every technical blog post. Content that does not satisfy this criterion may be deemed mediocre.
Education about Technical Context
When it comes to educating your audience, it is necessary to provide context. This holds especially true for when you’re presenting your services or your product as a solution. In such a case, here are a couple of contextual elements you need to consider in your text:
1. Identifying the Problem
Ensure that the content actively talks about the problem your product solves. High-level content should walk the reader through the problem, its causes and its types. It should help them identify whether they face the problem or not. A strong framework on the background of the problem can help reassure readers that the solution you provide is valid.
2. Describing the Prerequisites
High-level content should also inform the reader of any prerequisites to the solution you offer. Do they need to check with their local authorities before installing or hiring your services? Do they need to have a specific software pre-installed?
Defining these prerequisites can help readers understand how your solution works. Furthermore, it will ensure the user takes all the proper steps.
3. Defining the Limitations
You are bound to lose credibility if your content defines your solution as the best one. There may be some situations where your product may be deemed useless. A better way would be to define the circumstances in which your specific technology is the best possible solution.
Defining limitations on your technology or services will help your customers in holding realistic expectations. If your software does not work on Mac OS, then high-level content would state it loud and clear.
Rather than leaving your audience somewhat confused, a high-quality document identifies the problem, describes prerequisites and defines limitations of the solution. Thus, it helps readers understand the technical context of the solution you offer.
Technical Illustrations and Examples
Readers, whether they are from a technical or non-technical background, tend to understand best when presented with examples and illustrations.
Illustrations of any form such as a flow chart, a diagram or even a simple picture of the product may help in clearing up any confusion. If it’s a whole process that needs definition, it’s best to use a video to explain the topic.
Infographics are yet another form of visual content that can clarify technical concepts. For instance, you may want to define how effective your technological solution is. Create an infographic that shows the effectiveness of the solution through solid facts and figures to convince the reader.
You could try simply stating the facts, but that’s bound to bore the reader. Attractive visuals and audio snippets are key to helping the reader understand your text whilst capturing their full attention.
On the other hand, using examples can help readers comprehend the type of situations you just stated.
For instance, a business might state: “Our software solution can help you strengthen your Internet security and protect it from malware.” While this does deliver a bit of an impact, it still lacks the clarity an example can provide, such as:
For example, opening any files from suspicious sources can result in malware and viruses in your computer. The software creates a firewall and inspects each site you visit. It will warn you instantly if you open such files.
The example clearly explains how it protects from malware and where you could have accumulated them from. A high-level content takes a similar approach. It briefly explains the situation and lets the examples speak for themselves.
All high-level technical blog posts are clear in writing and style. Clear writing here can mean:
- Clear Structure
A high-level article is structured carefully and clearly. It should show the reader a clear path on how to implement a solution. The reader should be able to follow it easily with as less uncertainty as possible.
For example, if your blog post wants to present the audience with an infrastructure for customer data, then your ideal structure may be:
- Presenting the problem
- How the problem affects business outcomes
- Introducing an Infrastructure for customer data
- How the solution effects business outcomes
- Potential limitations to the solution
- Clear Language
High-level text should never include any grammatical errors, unnecessary language fluff or any inappropriate language. This can affect the overall readability and deter users from reading ahead.
For instance, if a technical blog post has a lot of irrelevant information or useless metaphors, readers might find it a waste of time and effort. Dense text posts can result in your readers losing attention—the last thing you want.
Developers often deal with a wide variety of technical topics. Something as simple as data infrastructures can have various sub-topics that readers may want to find about. Your business may cater to other developers, in which case you need to provide as many resources on the topic as you can.
On the other hand, there may be a slim chance that other non-technical readers are engaging in your content. In such a case, you can try providing resources that are beginner-friendly. This holds true for the opposite case as well where the primary audience is non-technical.
You can add resources at the end of the article or link throughout the article. Whatever you choose, it is essential that all resources should be credible. High-level technical content always provides you with resources and links back to their primary source of information.
All in all, high-level content can help you gain distinction amongst your competitors. However, before you set out to hire an agency for technical content writing services, ask them for samples of their content. This way you can judge whether their technical content is high-level or not.
Nevertheless, the only true way to judge is after they have written the first technical blog post. Only then you can compare how well the content fits in with your content strategy and user needs.