ClickHelp Technical Writing Blog
Stories for technical writers, web developers and web designers willing to grow

Diagrams in Software Documentation

Posted by
Anastasia in Technical Writing on 10/22/20193 min read

paper

While technical documentation is mostly associated with text, it is much more than this. Without visual content technical texts are boring and hard to comprehend. Using diagrams in help topics is a great way to improve your content.

However, you need to remember that with diagrams less is often more; they are extremely helpful, but only when used right. Let's see how you can get the most benefit!

Simplify

Use diagrams when you feel like there's a place for simplification, but you can't really throw away any technical details from the text. Let the visual reference be the guide for your readers, walk them through the most difficult content with the help of basic concepts as a backbone for your explanation.

In some cases, diagrams can be self-sufficient and won't even require additional information.

Beautify

startup photos

As far as design is concerned, tastes differ. But we suggest putting some effort into the way your diagrams look - obsolete or just ugly looking drawings are going to make people wonder about your professionalism. In terms of services, judging a book by its cover is how things work. You don't need anything crazy, just make the diagrams in your docs look decent.

Enterprise

An easy design option here is going corporate. Check out the style guide, consult with experts or even delegate this task to a designer (that might be overkill though). We have seen a lot of awesome examples of online documentation portals created by our clients that mirror their main website and follow the corporate style guides - such docs usually look super pro.

Tools for Drawing Diagrams in Technical Documentation

diagram

You can draw diagrams in any tool you find convenient, but we can suggest a couple of options if you are not sure where to start.

The two tools 'to draw for': Lucidchart and draw.io. They both can be seamlessly integrated with ClickHelp. The process is very simple: you draw a diagram using the services and embed the generated code into your help topics.

But let's take a closer look at what these tools offer.

  • Lucidchart is an online-based solution. Users can sketch and share flowcharts that look professional and neat. It seems like a safe place to store data as well - they partner with big players like Amazon to provide storage. Also, their pricing is quite affordable.
  • draw.io is a free tool. And, it is understandably simpler in terms of features compared with Lucidchart. However, it is still considered one of the best solutions out there for creating diagrams. It has a variety of available shapes, it is intuitive and user-friendly. You can use Dropbox, Google Drive, GitHub, etc. as your integrated cloud storage service of choice. And, again, it is free!

Conclusion

Adding diagrams to a help topic is a nice touch that will make your documentation considerably more comprehensible. If you incorporate them with other visual means like gifs, screenshots, and videos, you will start creating really meaningful content.

Good luck with your technical writing!
ClickHelp Team
Author, host and deliver documentation across platforms and devices

 

Are Your Manuals Ready for Mobile World?
Download Free Ebook

Want to become a better professional?

Get monthly digest on technical writing, UX and web design, overviews of useful free resources and much more.
Like this post? Share it with others:
×

Mind if we email you once a month?

Professionals never stop learning. Join thousands of experts subscribed to our blog to get tips, ideas and stories from us once per month.
Learn more on ClickHelp
×
By using this site, you agree to our Security Policy and Terms of Use.     Learn more