What’s a style guide?
It is a document that technical writers use to ensure that all the documents accompanying a technical product have a uniform look and feel. For example, a style guide may specify that all headings should be in Times New Roman, 14 pt, bold, underlined, light-blue in colour.
Why is it needed?
Your users are not always technical people. They don’t know about the intricate features of your product, and they don’t want to. They want quick solutions to their problems, things that make life easier, where a button click can make the world a happier place for them. Along comes your manual, written by a member of your technical team, written in language that must have been simple for the developer, but is very tough for the end user.
Take an example. The manual says, “Click the button to restore the lost volume”. The manual refers to a logical division within a disk drive. The user starts looking for audio volume controls. (This has actually happened!).
The problem is that a lot of companies don’t realize that documentation is a specialized task that must take into account the intellectual level of the user, his skill set, demographical factors and other things that a technical person may not even think necessary. A lot of times, products that are sold internationally attract flak from customers because a word in the documentation that is innocuous in the country, in which the manual was developed, has an extremely derogatory connotation in the target country.
This is where a style guide provides solutions. Problems such as the one mentioned above are clearly mentioned in the guide. The guide also ensures that all the documentation produced by your company has a uniform corporate look and feel, thus associating a particular look with your product. (See how the colour blue with a flying window has become associated with Microsoft? Or the familiar Pepsi logo?)
ConWiz can help you define generic style guides that can be implemented across a variety of manuals, promotional literature, in-house material and marketing collaterals. These style guides can be used in eLearning material, CDs and DVDs, print material, animation and other multi-medium material.
Contact us, and let the ConWiz work magic for you