One of the most common mistakes organizations make when converting to DITA is to not properly train their writers. I’m not talking about DITA training. The training that is missed is the reason for DITA—that is, topic-based authoring. Writers that are well-trained in topic-based authoring will appreciate the benefits of DITA.
Topic-based documentation is tailor-made for users who don’t have a lot of time to read. Topic-based documentation gets to the point. Each topic answers one question:
“How do I …”
“What is …?”
“What went wrong?”
Topics should only be a few paragraphs long and stick to one subject. So, not only are topics easier to read, they should be easier to review. Subject Matter Experts who are reviewing the documentation will appreciate being able to quickly find and review information – and what tech writer wouldn’t appreciate a cooperative (or dare I say, enthusiastic) reviewer?
One of the best examples I’ve seen regarding topic-based authoring is the example given in the article Topography, Muffins, and Chunking. Check it out and let me know if you agree.