Strategy of information finding

Tom Johnson wrote a blog post about innovation in technical communication in which he included a quote from a comment from Mark Baker on a previous blog post. It is a phrase in this comment that I want to react to and muse upon today. In talking about how the strategy of information finding has reversed itself thanks to the innovation of the web, Mark said:

Google first; manual maybe never.

As a technical communicator, I do read user manuals, online help, or other product documentation…at least for some things. However, it doesn’t take long before I venture out to Google to search for answers. This phrase really rang true to me.

This turn of phrase within this blog post got me thinking about the future of product documentation and how we really should be re-imagining and re-defining it in the wonderful world of Google. If users naturally seek answers on Google, it’s not enough to just push our product documentation out on the web and make it more findable with SEO techniques. We need different types of information, delivered in different ways, that can more readily answer the questions that are being asked via Google.

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