Information architecture for outstanding technical documentation

Technical documentation should be useful. And just like Bauhaus architecture it should be functional. With clear, short, and concise instructions, even the most complicated products can be straightforward for your users. Technical writers will do whatever it takes to achieve this goal, using clear, coherent language, meaningful graphics, and step-by-step videos. The skills of a variety of experts are required to build technical documentation with a consistent information architecture. You know you’ve delivered when the user says: “Well, that was easy”.

Technical documentation

Our content is worth keeping

The fourth most important invention in human history after fire, the wheel, and the vacuum cleaner is the delete button. To see just how much pain it has spared us – and still could – just take a look at social media. The need for the delete button varies in technical documentation, and ideally, we shouldn’t need it at all. If reading your manuals leaves your customers confused, that’s bad enough. If it’s more than that though, then things start to look critical for your content. Just one touch of the delete button is all it takes. And that’s the last thing any of us wants. Beware of bad content. Give great content the support it deserves!

We use the latest insights from user experience research to deliver truly exceptional content. Intuitive, clearly illustrated, and risk-free. No matter what content format: text, graphics, animation, audio, or video. Your budget is our benchmark. Quality is our commitment.

The benefits for you

  • Premium quality technical documentation 
  • Enhancement of your product thanks to great user guidance and customer ratings 
  • Preparation for multimedia publishing with text, graphics, animation, audio, and video based on your budget 
  • Workflow-driven content creation, for example based on modularization and topic-based writing 
  • Risk-free documentation through compliance with all currently relevant standards such as IEC/IEEE 82079, ISO/IEC 26514, ISO 20607, and ANSI Z535.6 
  • Precise implementation of the latest insights from user experience design (UXD) 

Our services

  • Design, layout, and template development, for example in Word, FrameMaker, or InDesign  
  • State-of-the-art documentation development: user friendly, cost effective, and aligned with all relevant standards 
  • Content development based on the latest usability research findings 
  • Creation of graphics and media integration  
  • Modularization and migration of content to your content management systems 
  • Quality control: 
    • Review of style, grammar, spelling, and content 
    • Terminology extraction, coordination, and maintenance, also using tools 
  • Sustainable content development: 
    • Development of an editorial guide and a style guide for future content 
  • Usability tests:  
    • Expert analysis based on heuristic evaluation 
    • User surveys: online polls, telephone polls, face-to-face interviews, focus group interviews, and user testing in the usability lab 

As well as standard content management systems, we use desktop publishing tools and graphics programs to handle your projects. But that’s not all – we also use [i]-match, the itl authoring assistance tool. This allows us to support you throughout the entire technical documentation journey: during content creation, for tool and system rollouts at your company, for data cleanup in your systems, and for fine adjustments to the layout of your documents in the selected target languages.

At itl, we use the following tools:

  • Adobe InDesign 
  • Adobe FrameMaker 
  • Microsoft Word 
  • Adobe RoboHelp 
  • MadCap Flare 
  • etc. 
  • Adobe Illustrator 
  • Adobe Photoshop 
  • Corel DESIGNER 
  • 3DVia Composer 
  • Adobe Substance 3D 
  • SAP 3D Visual Enterprise Author 
  • etc. 
  • SCHEMA ST4 
  • docuglobe 
  • TIM 
  • Smart Media Creator 
  • Noxum Publishing Studio 
  • etc. 

If you have already designed and written your technical documentation, we are happy to provide the following quality control services for content and user guidance: 

  • Review of style, grammar, spelling, and content 
  • Terminology: terminology extraction, coordination, and maintenance, also possible using a tool 
  • Guidelines: development of an editorial guide and a style guide for future content 
  • Usability tests: 
    • Expert analysis based on heuristic evaluation 
    • User surveys: online polls, telephone polls, face-to-face interviews, focus group interviews, and user testing in the usability lab 

UXD – blog article (in German)

Find out everything you need to know about UXD in Dieter Gust’s blog article “The future is now, and it’s called UXD – User Experience Design”.

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The itl Newsletter (in German)

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Video production

Videos and animations: … aand Action!

Motion graphics without movement are about as useful as an audio book without sound. In videos and animated sequences, it’s all about action. Someone speaking to a camera isn’t enough; unless, of course, the voice itself is the message. But this is rarely the case. As it happens, workflows and processes, clearly presented, are ideal candidates for film. In other words, practical demonstrations of how to do something. And if it’s properly scripted, it doesn’t even matter what language the video is in. Ideally, processes and procedures should be so self-explanatory that spoken instructions are no longer required. And if sound and processes are not important either, all you need is 2D or 3D animation. They are more effective than an image. Lots of options – and the perfect visual solution for every scenario.

We find the right visual solution to transform your assembly documentation or service and instruction manuals. We also develop training videos for product training sessions or manufacturing instructions, in line with the latest UX principles.

The benefits for you

  • Greater customer satisfaction thanks to clear, coherent instructions 
  • Less work for your customer service team 
  • Expert multimedia guidance for your technical products 
  • Integration with marketing on your social media platforms 
  • Your online presence is strengthened, also for SEO 

Our services

  • A holistic concept for your visual instructions based on optimal user experience design
  • Implementation using video, or using 2D or 3D graphic animations
  • Pre-production including user scenarios, navigation structures, and storyboards
  • Direction and filming including editorial support
  • Post-production: Editing, voice-overs, and, if necessary, integration of text
  • HTML5 for responsive output including video player design
  • Usability tests once development has been completed

Always up to date: the itl Blog (in German)

The latest news on technical documentation, translation, workflow optimization, terminology, and our company.

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Graphics production

Text and graphics – the communication dream team

“A picture is worth a thousand words” – this may be true, but try illustrating this simple sentence as a graphic. There’s a limit to what you can do with text, and that’s true of graphics too. But put them together and you have a dream team. Humans notice pictures much more quickly than text. By how much? By about 60,000 times. That’s the same as if you drove an incredible 90 times around the earth at 60 km/h. In other words, pictures are at least as important as text as part of your technical documentation because they are understood and processed at high speed. In fact, for some topics, visual elements are the preferred choice when it comes to making your technical documentation clearer and easier to understand.

We enhance your product documentation with functional visual elements so that your customers can understand the content more quickly and easily. There are numerous options available, each of which makes use of a specific approach.

The visual elements we use include: 

  • Technical illustrations 
  • Spare-part and exploded-view diagrams 
  • Conversion of photos to line drawings 
  • Greyscale and color graphics 
  • Schematic and functional block diagrams 
  • Infographics 
  • Sectional and composite drawings 
  • 3D product visualization 
  • Pictograms 
  • Product stickers, warning signs

Our services

  • Creation of graphics using 3D CAD data, product samples, or photographs 
  • Creation of individual graphics based on customer specifications 
  • Design development and creation of all the illustrations and graphics for your documentation 
  • Documentation of the design in a style guide 

The benefits for you

  • Graphics are eyecatchers and never fail to attract attention  
  • Their shapes, colors, and the white space around them motivate the reader and make text easier to read 
  • Graphics are noticed more quickly and are often more easily understood than text 
  • Graphics are not specific to a particular language and do not generate translation costs 
  • Graphics are a compact way to present information, saving space and money when printing multilingual instructions 
  • Graphics illustrate instructions so that all users need to do is to follow along. 

Pictograms

Here you can see an example of a pictogram system that we developed especially for a customer. The reader should understand the message within a few seconds. Learned schematic symbols that structure the content visually are used as an aid. They also provide excellent guidance for users when navigating webpages in apps or in online documentation. 

Our pictogram services include: 

  • Design of pictogram systems 
  • Individual pictograms, pictogram sequences 
  • User testing, style guides 

Request a quote

You can request a free quote here: 

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Documentation analysis with the itl DocuCheck

We rock the rules

Standards aren’t exactly known for their entertainment value. Sometimes, even just reading them is painful. But they do have their uses. They may be wooden and dry, but they are of enormous benefit when used in technical documentation. Not only do they prevent liability claims, they also enhance the value of your products with clear and coherent documentation too. That means happy customers and legal compliance at home and across the EU.

We review your documentation as part of a comprehensive document analysis or create new documentation based on current legislation and standards. And not only that: we share tips and tricks on the best way to deal with standards yourself.

The benefits for you

  • Compliance with standards throughout Europe 
  • Comprehensive legal certainty for your technical documentation 
  • Elimination of risks related to product liability in accordance with §823 and §434 of the German Civil Code 
  • Greater added value for your product thanks to clear and coherent instructional material 
  • Presentation of itl’s analysis and our recommendations 

Our services

  • Validation of compliance with standards and usability
  • New: Validation for accessibility
  • Validation in accordance with the relevant EU directives 
  • Validation of compliance with ISO/IEC/IEEE 82079 
  • Additional validation of software documentation in accordance with ISO 26514 
  • Validation of electronic documentation in accordance with the criteria specified by the ergonomics standards 9241-11, 9241-110 and 9241-112

Good to know!

Our experienced technical writers and our experts in documentation standards review dozens of technical manuals every year from almost every industry. Examples include technical documentation for products from industries such as automation, building technology, IT hardware and software, consumer goods, mechanical engineering and plant engineering, as well as measurement technology. The scope can be anything from 10 to 300 pages. Yet regardless of your industry or the size of your documents, you can be sure that in the end, itl will create technical documentation for you that is perfect in every sense of the word. And not only that: we share tips and tricks on the best way to deal with standards yourself.

nicht_verwenden_feature_technische_doku

Get our latest guide to the 16 most important laws and standards now. Free to download.

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An introduction by co-author Dieter Gust to the itl standards guide

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Your contacts for smart content

Henning Mallok

Head of sales Germany

Andrea Wagner

Head of technical documentation department