5 Tips for Writing Workflow Articles for Employees in ScreenSteps [VIDEO]
Have you ever needed to create a new article in ScreenSteps, but then sat there looking at the blinking cursor, wondering:
- How should I document this?
- How long should this article be?
- What information should I include?
Well, if that’s happened to you, then I’d like to share 5 tips for creating articles in ScreenSteps that help employees do their job.
As head of customer success at ScreenSteps, I've trained content authors at dozens of companies on how to break writer's block associated with building articles.
When content authors learn to follow these 5 tips, they are able to write and publish articles quicker.
1. Clarify when somebody uses this article
The first question I ask myself is, "What situation is somebody in when they use this article?"
For example, if the reader is going to be on a phone call with a customer and needs to use this article to answer a question while still talking on the phone, then I'm going to write the article differently than if the employee will be using this article while they are performing research and able to spend 30 minutes figuring things out.
If the reader needs to use this while in their workflow, without putting a customer on hold, then I'm going to make it more snappy.
2. Clarify what the reader needs to do
As a subject matter expert, clarifying what the reader needs to do can be really difficult.
You have a LOT of great knowledge and information in your head, and when you begin to write an article, it's easy to forget that, at the end of reading this article, an employee needs to be able to do an action.
Even if an article only includes information and no "how-to" actions, it helps to consider what the reader will need to do with that information.
For example, an article titled "Purchase Orders" might have all the information I know about purchase orders, but if I'm not clear on how the reader will use the information, then it's not going to be a very useful article.
When the employee reads the article, it will be more helpful to identify that they need to be able to update a Purchase Order number on an existing invoice and send the invoice back out to the customer.
That article will look different than just a generic article about purchase orders.
3. What background knowledge does the reader already have?
This is one of the most challenging aspects of writing the article.
It gets into the question, "How much information should I include in my article?"
So, ask yourself, what background information does the reader already have when they read this article?
Do the readers already understand what the system is and what it does? If they do, then skip the intro paragraph talking about what a CRM is, how to log in, and why CRMs are so great.
Are the readers familiar with the process in general? If they are, then skip the intro paragraph describing what the big-picture process is.
For most articles I'm writing, I’m assuming that the reader is familiar with the system and the process in general, so I don’t always need to drop in a lot of background information and context.
Now, if I know that there might be people reading this who are not familiar with the system or with the overall processes, then I could include links to other learning assets that explain those things in more detail — which leads me to my next tip.
4. Provide additional resources
If the reader wants (or needs) to learn more about the topic, and get a deeper understanding, how could they?
Instead of including a large paragraph at the beginning of each article giving tons of background information, you link to other learning assets (e.g. articles, videos, courses) that go into more detail.
Continuing with the example from above, if a reader pulls up the article, "How to add a Purchase Order # to an existing invoice" and they don't know what a purchase order is or what the billing system is, and they want to learn more, then you can link to other learning assets that explain those in more detail.
5. Determine the minimum amount of information the reader needs
This advice is suggested over and over again by instructional designers — only include the necessary information that a reader needs to perform this task/do this job.
Think of an experienced driver driving a new car. Do they really need to understand what a combustion engine is before they can successfully drive the car?
When you write the article, determine how much information employees really need to perform this task successfully.
See these 5 tips in action
Using these 5 tips, you'll be able to narrow down the information you need to include in an article in order to help your employees complete their tasks without overwhelming them with information.
At ScreenSteps, we have coaches that work with companies to help them master writing content, including workflows. If you would like additional help with your content creation, contact a consultant.
If you’d like to see an example of what this looks like, click the link below. In the 8-minute video, I walk through an example where I create an article in ScreenSteps using these five tips.