One of the problems with blog articles is that they are one-offs. Going back to find an article that you really like isn't too difficult, but finding and sharing three or four that build on each other and teach multiple concepts is not easy.
So I decided to take last week off from blogging and instead put together a course for creating internal Salesforce documentation.
Why a course?
The reason I wanted to write a course like this is because organizations are not benefitting very much from their documentation efforts. Admin, consultants, and trainers spend hours taking screenshots and writing instructions that hardly see the light of day. Even some users of our product, ScreenSteps, were not seeing the results they wanted from end user documentation.
End user documentation is not magical
A misconception about end user documentation is that if you have screenshots, some text, and some arrows, it will just work and people will always use it. But that's not the case - you cannot write documentation the same way you write a memo or a white-paper with just a few extra screenshots and annotations.
And that's because users don't read documentation. Users reference documentation and they scan documentation when they get stuck or need help. They are not going to start at the beginning of your manual and work their way down. Most don't want to learn everything there is to know about Salesforce, SharePoint, or any other application you use - they just want to get their job done.
If you want end user documentation to be valued, you have to give the people what they want and what they find useful. That's the purpose of the documentation course, to help you write documentation that users find helpful.
Check it out and share it with others
The original course was an email course that sent out a lesson each day - but I realized that folks may only have one window of opportunity to read the material, so I didn't want to miss that window. Here is the course site - http://bit.ly/docs-course if you just want to jump right to the content without signing up for anything.
If you would like to sign up for the email course, you can do that here. I like the email course format because it allows for the information to be read piecemeal, and makes it easier for me to interact with those going through the course and doing the homework.
Whatever you decide to do, I hope you enjoy the material and share it with others who are frustrated with nobody reading their documentation.