Your process documentation is supposed to capture everything you need to make your business consistent, run smoothly, and produce outcomes. Unfortunately, for the most part, a process is a monotonous step-by-step list of instructions mapped out over pages of boring text, and when things are boring, we are less likely to learn and absorb the information.
The good news is that process documentation does not have to be bland or forgettable; instead, it can be exciting and fun to read. Below you will find some tips and tricks to designing your process documentation that is fun, interesting, and engaging without the snooze factor.
Avoid writing pages of black and white text!
When writing process documentation, it is easy to get caught up in the formalities of process writing. When this happens, you end up with pages of black and white text that no one wants to read. So instead, think about including the following alternatives and additions to text:
1.) Use bullet points to explain important information instead of writing long paragraphs – Bullet points highlight essential steps in the process and provide the information clearly and concisely. Most people will remember a short bullet point over a paragraph.
2.) Use coloured headings, but be consistent – Adding a pop of colour will make the process look and feel more appealing. However, remember to be consistent with your heading styles for all of your processes. In most cases, you can set up your headings styles so that your documentation is consistent.
3.) Add screenshots when explaining online processes – The power of pictures to explain HOW to do something is often overlooked. Many people will learn quickly if they can see what they have to do instead of imagining what it looks like. A clear screenshot and bullet point or numbered step can significantly impact clarity. In addition, you can highlight and circle areas when using the annotations feature in PDF.
4.) Use screen recordings to explain how to do something – A quick and easy way to present an online process is to record your screen and talk through what to do. Some great tools, such as Loom or Cloud App, allow you to talk through a process while doing the task on your screen! A screen recording is effective for a visual learner and will save you time documenting your processes. A short 3-5 minute video can save you hours of writing.
5.) Use video recordings for your processes – These days, we all have cameras on our phones that can capture clear videos. Most people know how to upload videos in seconds. An effective way to capture your processes is to video someone doing the task while explaining what they are doing. This method is excellent for manual tasks requiring someone to SEE and HEAR.
6.) Use photos, pictures or GIFs within your material – A common theme here is that people can be visual, so why not add some fun photos, images of GIFs? When using these visuals, make sure that they are appropriate to your workplace and company style. For example, some companies are ok to use humour and informal pictures or GIFs, but others may opt for a more professional and polished look and feel. You can use workplace photos, or if you need professional images or GIFs, you can purchase them online from iStockphoto.com or giphy.com.
7.) Include inspirational quotes throughout the process to inspire and motivate – We all love a bit of inspiration, and let’s face it, sometimes we need it! Processes don’t have to be uninspired; instead, you can subtly add a quote or two within your process to provide some thoughtfulness and motivation. Ensure that the quote aligns with what you are writing your workplace formalities, and if the quote is from another person, always give them credit by adding their name.
8.) If an employee asks you a common question, use a voice recording to answer it and add it to your documentation. By recording the questions, you save yourself time while ensuring common questions are addressed. In addition, if an employee asks a common question in the future, you can refer them to the documentation instead of repeating yourself. You can do this with your phone or a Loom video (if it requires a screen capture) to record a question.
9.) Create a template and use it for all of your process and procedure documentation. Consistency with your documentation is important for brand identity and will ensure a professional look. A tool such as Trainual will help keep your content formatting and branding consistent. Additionally, the platform includes a few extra built-in features such as gifs and stock images.
10.) Include your company branding on all of your templates: Branding is a big part of your company’s identity, so it makes sense to brand all of your documentation. Ensure the branding is consistent, done in the correct colours, and professionally designed.
11.) Use external sources such as YouTube videos and link them to your online user manuals. Why not take advantage of the free resources available and use them in your online documentation? Using free online resources will save you time and prevent you from reinventing the wheel!
12.) Add a test, quiz or activity at the end of your online processes or procedures. For example, when training new employees, you want to know that they understand the information and perform at their very best in their role. Including tests in your online documentation means that you can track and monitor your employees’ learning and ensure they are given the proper guidance and mentorship to enable them to do their jobs to a high standard. Ensure the questions are related to the information they are learning and align with the employee’s role.
Tips for writing your processes:
- Don’t overthink things! Keep your steps and instructions simple, clear and concise.
- Include only the essential information and avoid writing too much text.
- Add troubleshooting tips for processes that may involve alternative outcomes.
- Get some help from your team members who perform the processes daily. Your employees are a great source of knowledge regarding daily operations. Ask them to help you write the instructions by interviewing them on what they do and how they do it.
- If you are interviewing your employees on their processes, record the conversation and use the recording to write your processes.
Here are examples of engaging process documentation
Now that you have some new and exciting ideas to include in your process documentation, you can start to create processes and procedures that are effective, memorable and interesting to read. Remember, your documentation does not have to be bland, so use some of these techniques when creating your training material, processes or procedures.
Need some help creating engaging documentation that your team will read and follow? We help our clients every day to build training manuals and company playbooks that they can be proud of and that guide the business operations and keep everyone aligned. Schedule a call with Wendy to see if we can help you too.