A Dive into PortlandLabs' Technical Writing

A Dive into PortlandLabs' Technical Writing

Apr 2, 2024
by jessicadunbar

Have you ever wondered what makes technical documentation not just good, but great? Or how companies like PortlandLabs manage to turn complex technical concepts into clear, engaging, and user-friendly content? Well, you're in luck! Today, we're taking a deep dive into the world of PortlandLabs' technical writing, exploring the diverse range of materials we produce and the strategies behind our success. So, let's unravel the mystery.

Technical Writing: Writing with Direction and Purpose

Technical writing is not just about conveying information; it's about doing so with clear direction and purpose. This specialized form of communication is designed to explain complex ideas, procedures, and processes in a way that is accessible and understandable to a specific audience. 

Whether it's a manual, a report, or online help documentation, each piece is meticulously crafted to serve a specific goal: 

  • Educate
  • Instruct
  • Guide decision-making

In essence, technical writing transforms raw data and unstructured information into valuable, actionable knowledge, ensuring that every word written serves the broader objective of clarity, efficiency, and user engagement.

Documentation: The Backbone of User Experience

Our documentation extends beyond just developer docs; it's a comprehensive ecosystem designed to enhance the user experience, meticulously crafted to cater to a wide array of needs, from step-by-step tutorials for beginners to in-depth technical documentation for seasoned developers. 

Here are different types of technical writing in practice:

Case Studies: Stories of Success

At PortlandLabs, case studies are more than just testimonials; they are narratives that provide real-world examples of how their products and services solve problems. These documents are meticulously crafted, combining technical details with compelling storytelling. Imagine reading about a company facing a challenge similar to yours and finding out exactly how one of our partners' solutions turned the tide. It’s not just informative; it’s relatable and inspiring. 

One structure for change stories is called situation-impact-resolution (SIR). This is the foundational approach Gartner recommends that technology and service providers adopt to develop storytelling skills.



Tutorials: Your Friendly Step-by-Step Companion

Think of our tutorials as a personal guide, leading you through the exploration of new features or the intricacies of complex tasks. Crafted with beginners in mind, these resources transform intimidating concepts into manageable and understandable segments. 

Our video tutorials shine by offering clear, visual demonstrations, breaking down sophisticated ideas into straightforward, followable actions. They cater especially well to visual learners, who benefit from observing the exact processes and techniques in action. 

In addition to our video content, we provide written tutorials. These written guides complement the visual with detailed explanations and step-by-step directions, offering a comprehensive learning experience that caters to a variety of learning styles. 

A great example is of Evan’s Migration Tutorial https://documentation.concretecms.org/tutorials/using-concrete-migration-tool-addon 

Whether you prefer to watch, read, or a combination of both, our tutorials are here to assist every step of the way.

User Documentation

The emphasis is on empowerment – we believe that well-informed users are more likely to make the most of our solutions. By providing thorough, understandable, and accessible documentation, we bridge the gap between our technological innovations and our users' everyday experiences. 

Reflecting PortlandLabs' ethos, our user documentation is not static; it evolves. Continual updates ensure relevance and usability, keeping pace with product developments and user feedback. It's all part of our commitment to not just meet, but exceed user expectations, reinforcing our dedication to clarity, utility, and user satisfaction in every line we write.

Developer Documentation

At PortlandLabs, we recognize that developers are at the forefront of innovation and integration, requiring detailed and precise information to harness the full potential of our products. Our developer documentation is meticulously designed to meet these needs, offering a deep dive into the technical underpinnings of our software.

Crafted with clarity and specificity, our developer docs serve as a comprehensive guide, covering everything from setup and configuration to advanced customization and development strategies. We provide clear examples, code snippets, and API references to facilitate a seamless development experience. 

API Documentation 

Recognizing the critical role of clear, accessible API information, we utilize Doctum—a dynamic API Documentation generator and a fork of Sami—to ensure our API documentation is not only comprehensive but also up-to-date and easy to navigate.

Generated by Doctum, our API documentation offers an organized, in-depth look into our application programming interfaces, providing all necessary endpoints, methods, parameters, and examples. 

Training Documentation 

Beyond our standard documentation, we utilize a specific training template to personalize the learning experience for our clients. This template is designed to facilitate hands-on training sessions, ensuring our users not only understand our products but can also apply them effectively in their environments. It’s a step-by-step guide that covers everything from initial setup to advanced features, tailored to the specific needs and questions. By integrating this template into our client engagements, we provide a structured yet flexible approach to training, making it easier for clients to grasp and utilize our products to their full potential.

Report Writing

PortlandLabs champions the art of clear, concise report writing. It's not about bombarding readers with endless data; it's about delivering insightful, understandable content. Imagine reports where technical insights, analytics, and findings shine, thanks to clear language, visuals, and summaries, making complex data digestible and actionable.

When crafting reports for the Army MWR, Internal reports, or client reporting, from succinct one-pagers to extensive quarterly analysis covering campaigns, programs, and websites, I lean on a few key tools: 

  • U.S. Army Style Guide
  • Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF) approach
  • After-Action Reports (AARs)

These resources ensure that even the most detailed reports are accessible and informative.

Style Guide:

Army Style Guide.jpgArmy Style Guide Dark.jpg

Wrapping Up

Through examples like case studies, documentation, and instructional materials, we showcase how effective technical writing is an art as much as it is a science. It’s about understanding the audience, breaking down complex information, and presenting it in a way that's both accessible and engaging.

PortlandLabs' commitment to quality technical writing not only enhances user experience but also reflects the company's dedication to customer success and product transparency.