Software users, just like the users of every product, are very different. Their knowledge about the product and technology is different, as is their level of knowledge of the language used in the application. The more difficult the instruction is to understand, the greater the risk of error or prolonged duration of activity described in a manual.
It does not matter if it’s a 500-page user guide or a caption on a button. The principle is the same.
Imagine a couple of buttons in an application, the names of which cause that you are not quite sure what to choose. For example, a dialog asking, “Are you sure you want to cancel the process?” And you can choose one of two buttons: “OK” and “Cancel”. Let’s say that in this step you always wonder for two seconds what to choose, the OK button or the Cancel button. Not much, right? We can live with that. Two seconds…
But what if you have to go through this window at least once a day? And you are one of 10,000 employees using this application in your company? It gives over 1,000 hours of work per year!
That is why it is so important that the language used in the user interface as well as in the documentation related to the software should be of the highest quality.
We know that this will result in user satisfaction and more efficient use of software. That is why we use Technical Writers’ help in our projects.
But who exactly is a Technical Writer?
Above all, a Technical Writer is of course a writer. The main task of a Technical Writer is to provide the user with information necessary for the correct use of a product, for example an application. Writing is a big part of their work, but creating documentation is not just a thoughtless formulating lines of text. It is a multidimensional process consisting of various tasks.
Also, Technical Writers are editors. They correct grammatical, stylistic, lexical, syntactic, and logical errors. They also make sure that the documents are correctly formatted, maintained in a visual style preferred by the company, and comply with all the guidelines that are imposed, e.g. by the industry. All documentation should be a harmoniously integrated whole.
A Technical Writer translates various documents including emails to clients, marketing texts, and technical documents.
Support of a project team
The work of a Technical Writer also has one very important side effect – finding problems in the product that is described.
Because many Technical Writers have language education, and not technical one, their interaction with the application is similar to the end user’s interaction, which allows them to find inaccuracies in UI texts and UX related errors, especially when the availability of testers in the project is limited.
Technical Writers are a support for UX Designer because they have influence on the final product by suggesting solutions to problems they found and reporting improvements. In this way, they influence the main element of their work, which is, creating documentation. Often the removal of a problem in a product also reduces the number of issues that they have to describe.
Technical Writers often support the coordination of the process of creating, reviewing and approving documents, ensuring that deadlines are met.
To sum up, a Technical Writer is a mix of several roles in proportions depending on the structure of a given team and specifics of a project. Technical Writers adapt to the current project needs and depending on the situation, they support:
- quality assurance,
- project managers,
What skills does a Technical Writer have?
A Technical Writer:
- gathers information about the product, among others based on the existing documentation, Jira issues, and interviews with subject-matter experts,
- transforms developers’ jargon into a clear, concise, and consistent description,
- supervises the dates of documentation delivery and reminds the team about deadlines,
- adapts to the current project needs by performing different roles and supporting various processes,
- provides content adapted to the needs of the audience, correct in terms of language. It shortens the review cycles and the comprehensibility of the documentation.
Moreover, a Technical Writer:
- reviews the text before publishing or sending it to the Client,
- translates all kinds of documents, articles, and presentations,
- writes consistent content according to the rules from the style guide and any guidelines or regulations that are imposed e.g. by the company’s industry,
- helps in the design of the user interface, so that the product is as intuitive as possible, thus reducing the need to mask its imperfections in the documentation.
The role of Technical Writer in the IT project cannot be overestimated. Soon we will write an article about which tasks should be entrusted to Technical Writer.