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Images can have the following benefits for technical documentation:

  • Clarify complex concepts or processes.
  • Illustrate steps in a process or workflow.
  • Show visual examples of a product or feature.
  • Break up large blocks of text to make the documentation more visually appealing.

Despite these benefits, images can be time-consuming to obtain, create, and maintain. As a result, it’s important to use images judiciously.

Guiding principles

When you create images for the documentation, keep the following guiding principles in mind:

  • Be useful: Images must provide context and clarity. When used effectively, images give users a deeper understanding of what they’re working on.
  • Be consistent: Images must follow standard guidelines. A consistent approach to images reduces cognitive load and improves user learning. Inconsistencies can distract or confuse users.
  • Be supportive: Images must be relatable and support the user’s experience. Each image needs to feel appropriate for the context where it appears. Supportive images resonate with users and allow them to apply what they’ve learned to their own situation.
  • Be focused: Each image must convey one thing. The purpose of the image must be easy to understand, so that users intuitively know how to accomplish their goal. Overly complex images that try to convey multiple things can confuse the user and impair user learning.