Choosing and managing customer-facing terminology

Subject: Choosing and managing customer-facing terminology
From: Julian Cantella <jcantel -at- us -dot- ibm -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Wed, 21 Sep 2011 13:55:43 -0400


I'm curious about how writers choose terminology that will be exposed to
customers. In particular, I'm thinking about text that is highly visible
and informs the users' view of the product, like embedded assistance in
software documentation.

Do you use whatever terminology your subject matter experts provide?
Consult domain publications and other products in the field?

When you decide what terminology you'd like to use, how do you enforce it
and ensure that everyone (other writers for the same product, developers,
maybe even marketing) is on the same page? Do you record your decision in
a common database?

And finally, what happens when you and your subject matter experts
disagree? Do you try to put alternatives in front of users?

This topic is pretty broad, but it's an important one that has a big
impact on users' perception of product and documentation quality.


Julian Cantella
Information Developer

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