Using Minimalist Writing Principles for Topic-based Writing

Minimalist writing is giving the least amount of essential information to your users—just enough for them to start and complete a goal.
If you’re writing topic-based content, then it’s best to follow minimalist principles which are:
1. Know your audience
2. Get rid of nonessential content (useless to user)
3. Focus on user goals, rather than how the product works
So in a nutshell: Provide only what the user needs, when they need it, and nothing more than that.
Principle #1 Know Your Audience

  • What do they already know?
  • Do you need to spell out the basics for them?
  • What are their goals?
  • Will they be familiar with the terminology associated with your product?
  • How much troubleshooting information will they need?

This information is essential because it gives you an idea of how much supporting information or conceptual and reference topics you’ll need to give the user in addition to task topics which only address the tasks at hand.

Principle #2 Get rid of nonessential content
Don’t over explain simple things that the user already knows. Basically, do not offer useless laborious information that turns a reader off and wastes their time.
For example, you don’t have to include “Type y our name in the name field.” Surely, the user can figure that out themselves.
If you have to describe a toolbar or navigation menu, than perhaps you need to create a user interface that is easier to understand.

Principle #3 Focus on user goals, rather than how the product works
In other words, the user comes to your book wanting to know how to complete a task in the shortest amount of time possible. They’re not interested in reading about how every piece of equipment works or what each button accomplishes. They simply want to know which button to push or which drop-down menu to select to accomplish the task at hand.