Who said technical writing has to be dry and boring?
Learning a new process goes a lot smoother when there is detailed documentation to guide you along. Documentation also serves as a record of innovative thinking. It’s the testament to creative problem-solving and, aside from the product itself, it’s a great way to remind users how much careful planning went into a project.
Whether you’re a developer, designer or end user then you’re going to be face-to-face with documentation at some point. Rather than let documentation be such a drag, why not spice it up and leave readers with something to grin about while they learn?
Here are some of our favorite examples of technical writing with a humorous twist.
Medium iOS App Update Notes
Having a mobile app has become routine for many businesses and this new normal has taken some of the novelty out of the whole mobile scene. Oh, there’s a new version available to download? Sure, whatever, just update it and don’t bother me too much with the details.
That ho-hum attitude is regrettable but it’s also an opportunity to throw something unexpected or delightful at the user once in a while. The blogging app Medium snuck in a few unexpected laughs in the most overlooked place: the app's release notes.
MailChimp’s Style & Content Guide
Companies that produce original content are adopting in-house style guides that unify the various authors, editors, and contributors in the content creation cycle. Don’t think your company is in the content game? If you have a website, then you’re in it. So why not be in it to win it?
Style guides are rigid by their nature, after all, they're basically a summary of the dos and don’ts when it comes to writing content for your brand. But they can be playful, too. One of the best examples comes from email marketing platform MailChimp.
MailChimp’s guide has detailed sections on all the nitty-gritty stuff, including proper use of names, dates, abbreviations and technical jargon. But they also have a more tongue-in-cheek section for the users who only want a high-level understanding of what's good vs. what's bad. Tailoring the level of detail to accommodate every content contributor is a smart move, but bonus points for being humorous while being thoughtful.
As they should be.
Google’s Playful Product Launches
Few companies have a sense of play ingrained in their DNA, but Google ranks as a key player when it comes to infusing fun into the workplace. The search engine giant is notorious for cranking out products from their skunkworks division, but not all the moonshot products are bold attempts to transform the way we use the Internet. Some of them are just for fun (or purely in jest) as you can see from their (sadly) short-lived TiSP product.
The Onion’s Tips on Repurposing Old Tech
The most recognized satirical news service doesn’t pass an opportunity to subject the tech industry to their razor-sharp wit. In their guide to repurposing or recycling your old computer, they manage to poke fun at the quickening pace of obsolescence in the tech world while also skewering the questionable design principles that shape the machines we use every day.
A Quick Tour Around the 404 Page Gallery
No roundup of tech humor is complete without showcasing some good examples of 404 pages. These playful interpretations of the ‘page not found’ meme are great reminders that tech is about invention and creativity. Even if something is broken, that doesn’t mean it can’t give the user an enjoyable experience.
There you have it! Did you enjoy these examples? Want to hear more from Promet Source? Sign up for our newsletter to get all the latest updates about open source and Drupal sent directly to your inbox. And yes, the emails you'll get borrow plenty of inspiration from the examples above. Excelsior!