Document reviews can help organisations develop better, more comprehensive documents that form the backbone for both the product and support functions
There was a time when users would reach out to support teams in a jiffy when something didn’t work. Not any longer.
People like to be self-reliant and do not wait endlessly for support calls to be answered. Most, in fact, would prefer spending a little time “googling for articles or videos” to understand and resolve an issue rather than waiting in tele-queues for someone to solve problems for them.
From a time when users would say, “who wants to read”, we have reached this day where we have our users requesting specific information to be added to our documentation for easy reference. Hence, it is absolutely imperative that apart from delivering world-class products for our customers, we also deliver world-class content for them.
What is a document review?
As the name suggests, a document review is the process of reviewing a document before it is made available for public consumption. This may not always be a one-time process; in fact, most of the time, a document is reviewed multiple times by different stakeholders before it goes live.
Why are document reviews important?
The answer to this question is very simple – reviews are essential to ensure that we are giving out accurate information to our customers.
Document reviews provide an opportunity for stakeholders to review and approve important documents before they are finalised and distributed. We are in an agile world where products are being improvised constantly. This also means that the documents must constantly be updated to stay up-to-date, and accurate. Inaccurate documents can hamper the product usability experience and increase support tickets!
Document reviews can take many forms, depending on the type of document being reviewed and the specific needs of the organisation. For example, a document review might involve a small group of managers reviewing a marketing proposal, or a team of engineers reviewing a technical specification.
However, conducting effective document reviews can be challenging. Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your document reviews:
What should you review?
Before you start the review process, make a checklist of what should be included in the review depending on the type of document that you are reviewing. Here are a few examples:
- Content Review: Does the document cover precisely what needs to be told? Is there too little information? Is there too much irrelevant information?
- Language Review: Check the use of pronouns (a language that adheres to gender neutrality), and conduct a geo-specific grammar (US, UK, Aus, Indian English) check including but not limited to voice, acronyms, appropriate punctuation, and so on.
- Graphics Review: Have images been used in the document? If yes, is the quality good enough to be viewed on a standard computer screen? Low-quality, pixelated images add no value to the document, instead bringing down the overall user experience and leaving a very bad impression. Check if alt-text has been used to describe the images in case of internet bandwidth issues at the user’s end. Check if sensitive information such as phone numbers and email addresses are hidden or blurred.
- Format and Structure Review: Check if the content flow is accurate. Are the tasks listed in the exact order in which the user has to carry them out? Are there enough cross-references given? Are bookmarks in place?
- SEO Review: Check if the meta description captures the required keywords for better search engine results. You can also broadly analyse how quickly the end user can get to the information (in how many clicks) and if the topic was indexed or bookmarked sufficiently.
The ideal document review process…
Here are some key points to remember before doing a review:
- Identify the stakeholders: Before starting a document review, it’s important to identify who needs to be involved. This might include key decision-makers, subject matter experts, or other stakeholders who can provide valuable input.
- Establish a clear process: Document reviews can be more effective when there is a clear and structured process in place. This might include defining roles and responsibilities, setting deadlines, and establishing criteria for evaluating the document.
- Use technology to facilitate the review process: There are many tools and technologies available that can help streamline the document review process. For example, you might use a shared online workspace where reviewers can comment and collaborate on the document in real-time, or use a document management system to track changes and approvals.
- Provide feedback and follow-up: Document reviews should be followed by a feedback and follow-up process. This might include discussing comments and suggestions from the reviewers, incorporating their feedback in the document, and ensuring that any decisions made during the review are implemented.
No matter how meticulous you may have been while writing, there’s always a chance of “that one error” creeping into the final cut. Doubly embarrassing if pointed out by a client or a customer!
Document reviews are a valuable tool for ensuring the quality and effectiveness of important documents.
By bringing together different perspectives and expertise, document reviews can help organisations develop better, more comprehensive documents that form the backbone for both the product and support functions.
When I was starting up, I had to build a marketing strategy to help advertise a fitness company that was selling supplements. I spent weeks developing the visuals, ad copy, and everything in between. The ad sets were perfect in my eyes. I would be setting them up across different platforms including social media sites, email newsletters, and traditional newspapers. After everything was ready, I sent them out to be published for the next week.
When they were published, I went back to check how they were doing. The social media campaigns and email newsletters did well, but then I got to the newspaper ad. Oh boy! I read through and realized at the bottom my call-to-action said, ‘Click Here!’ Yes, I had just asked people reading a physical newspaper to click.
What a fail!
The lesson I learned was it’s important to understand how an ad is going to be experienced along with making sure it reads well.”
Sara Bernier, Founder, Born for Pets