I’m at Write The Docs EU today in Budapest and will post semi–unpolished notes from sessions throughout the day after each talk finishes.
Most Important Thing: Reinforce your brand’s voice, but don’t make it sleazy.
How do you want your users to feel about you?
Tone can also:
- communicate your intended audience.
- communicate your expectations for how they will (or might) interact with your product.
- indicate the level of interactivity you’re willing to maintain with your clients or users.
Be willing to make updates or changes.
Communicating audience expectations
- skill level
- level of investment
- individuals or organizations
- commercial or non–commercial
Common problems with user expectations and tone
- Misjudging your audience.
- Limiting your audience through tone of the wrong level.
- Writing for yourselves, rather than your users.
- Using culturally limited references can exclude potential users.
Setting expectations with tone.
Level of Creativity
- What kind of limits, if any, do you want to set?
- Do you expect user to confirm to a level of professionalism or a specific niche?
- Are you inviting them to try and break something?
Aspirations for Users. Encourage ten to do more.
Challenges in Setting Expectations for use through tone
- Setting too narrow a scope for expectations is going to limit your more creative potential users
- Setting too wide a range of expectations for your users is going to panic lower–level users.
- Trying to set multiple levels of user expectations can get messy.
Setting communication expectations
Setting the tone for interaction
- What kind of resources are you making available for user support?
- Are you building a community?
- How accessible do you want to be to your users?
- What level of transparency are you aiming for?
- Public or private communications?
- She’s a fan of Buffer because of their tone. For example, their “Questions & Problems” section. Echoes their brand awareness and transparency.
- Ember.js also has great tone and documentation.
- CoffeeScript. Their branding is their documentation. Not as accessible. Not very much comforting language, or a personal connection.
When is it important to divorce from your branded tone?
- When your audience for documentation and main products diverge.
- When the branded tone is inappropriate.
- Yelp has a distinct, happy branded voice. Very cheerful, bouncy, yet patronizing. Their developer documentation is dry.
Divorce or dilute?
- Facebook has a unique branded voice. “Hey, we’re Facebook, we have your family!” Documentation is slightly watered down to break out of the Facebook stalker bits.
- Who are my users?
- What do I expect them to be doing?
- How much interaction do I want to promise?
One thought on “Write The Docs EU — Jessica Rose — Tone in Documentation”