Oct 13, 2016 by Elizabeth Cason Content

Where We’ve Been

After a long break, this blog is back in action. You’ve already seen several new posts, but I wanted to look back through our older entries to see how far we’ve come since our blog first went on hiatus almost a year ago.

My main takeaway? We were much smaller, and while we knew the types of things we wanted to achieve, we were still unsure of how we could push past being Knowledge Base writers to become technical content experts.

Of course, the path to expert is continuous, and requires constant learning and growth. With an extra year under our belts, we’re a little older, a little wiser, and have a lot more responsibility.

Here’s what we’ve been up to.

More people, more roles
We hired more writers to get more done. In fact, we doubled our total number of writers. But technical writing is about more than just writers. We added new roles to help round out our process, like an editor and technical advisor to provide extra checks for accuracy and consistency. These roles help us implement writing standards that provide clarity, and give writers a dedicated colleague to lean on when they need a second opinion on how something works.

Expanded scope
For a long time, technical content was just the Knowledge Base, with a sole focus on MailChimp support articles. Now, we write in-app help copy and often update the codebase with the copy recommendations ourselves. We also maintain the documentation for our API and for Mandrill, our transactional email service. Recently, we even added a role to organize and flesh out our internal documentation for the MailChimp Ops team.

Now en Français
Last year, Curtis wrote about the process of translating the English version of our Knowledge Base to Spanish. Since then, we’ve also added French. Très formidable!

New features, new articles
If you’ve been a MailChimp user for a while, you’ve probably noticed that we’ve added a bunch of new features in the past year, like enhancements to Automation and new e-commerce tools that help empower small businesses. This also means that we’ve had a lot of new things to write about. Since October 2015, we’ve published 234 new articles across our English, French, and Spanish sites, with 76 new articles on our English site alone.

Give the people what they want, even if they don’t tell us directly
Our writing and content strategy teams have worked toward a more data-driven approach to content development. Previously, a lot of what we wrote (or updated) was generally prompted by feedback from users or colleagues and based on a writer’s opinion of what was needed.

While those factors still play a major role in what we write, our content strategist, James, can pull different metrics to determine which areas of our content need the most help. Then, we’re able to compare the pre- and post-update metrics for an article to see if our efforts sparked actual improvements or were total flops. This new method helps us prioritize and more accurately meet the needs of our userbase.

Conference attendance
We love conferences. They allow us to learn more about our industry, take away information that helps develop our team, and pat ourselves on the backs when we realize we’re already doing something well.

In 2016, members of the technical content team have attended—or plan to attend—these conferences:

Confab Central
Confab Intensive
Collective Content Conference
IA Summit
Content Strategy and Innovation Summit
Grace Hopper
Adobe Video World
Emerging Women Conference

Of course, this is just the abridged version of what we’ve been doing throughout the year. Several of our future posts will expand on these topics, so we hope you’ll stay tuned!

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