Are you a Tech Writer, and upon declaring your profession, receive confused reactions from people? Well, you are not alone! Strangely enough, many do not know about Tech Writers and what they do. This blog is to clear the air and help people understand the job role of a Technical Writer in detail.
A Tech Writer has to don several hats, which is why perhaps Tech Writers are also called Technical Authors, Technical Communicators, Information Developers, and Technical Documentors.
Listed below are some of the contributions Tech Writers make to an organisation.
Tech Writers as Content Curators
Tech Writers are content curators who write about the products and services an organisation offers its users. Following are some of the key deliverables:
- Product Documents: Concepts and features.
- Procedures: How-to perform actions.
- API Documentation: APIs and parameters with code samples.
- Installation and Configuration Guides: Steps to install and configure products.
- User Guides: Different types of User Guides targeting specific types of users. For example, User Guide for End Users and User Guide for Advanced Users.
- Admin Guide: Guides meant for the Administrators with advanced features and permissions.
- Error Docs: Guides explaining the Error Codes and how to fix them.
- FAQ: FAQs to provide quick help to users.
- Knowledge Base: KB used by external users and internal Support teams.
- Integration Guides: Steps to integrate third-party products.
In many organisations, Tech Writers also help with UX writing, where they provide the content to be displayed on the Product screens. For example, Labels, Screen Titles, Tooltips, Success/Failure messages, and Error Messages.
A Tech Writing team has an elaborate review process to ensure the content’s accuracy and completeness. There is also a reviewer, proofreader, or editor who performs quality checks to bring clean content to users.
Tech Writers as Testers
Tech Writers often need to test the product to verify the features and perform the actions within the system to capture the behavior and document the appropriate steps. They access the products and services in a test environment before the new feature goes live. And this is where Tech Writers act as Testers, testing the product and reporting any deviations to the Engineering team.
Tech Writers as Users
Tech Writers are often the first users of a new product or feature. The Tech Writers are not Developers or Product Managers, so their behavior and actions are much similar to how users will use the feature. The Tech Writers check the User Experience, interactivity, ease of use, and design and can provide valuable insights to the Product team.
Tech Writers Vs. Instructional Designers
Tech Writers are not Instructional Designers, as the job role is pretty different. However, Tech Writers often double up as Instructional Designers in many organisations.
So, what do Instructional Designers do?
Instructional Designers create training videos and tutorials, which may be a Product Demo with screen recordings or animated videos with fancy images and voiceovers. Usually, Instructional Designers are part of the Learning & Development team. However, the reporting and alignment depend upon the organisation’s structure.
When to hire instructional designers
- If the videos require animations and designs, for such requirements, Instructional Designers are hired as these require different skills like Designing and Animation. Or, if you have a design team who can provide the designs and animations and collaborate with Tech Writers, that works too.
- If the organisation requires developing and maintaining a large number of videos on an ongoing basis for training, user demos, and marketing needs, you must hire Instructional Designers.
Difference between Tech Writers Vs. Content Writers
People often confuse Content Writers with Technical Writers and think their job role is the same but with different names. That’s not true. Tech Writers and Content Writers exist as separate entities in an organisation and have specific responsibilities.
Content Writers create content for the Marketing team where they write Blogs, Flyers, Brochures, and website content mainly to create awareness about the products and services. They aim to bring more traffic to the company website, get more enrollments and registrations, and increase sales. They adopt a friendly tone while writing and use a lot of colourful imagery, GIFs, memes, and video clips to get the users’ attention. They are the content creators for the company website and social media channels like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.
Tech Writers, on the other hand, use a more formal or semi-formal tone. The objective is to provide complete and accurate information about the products and services offered by the organisation. They create content that users can refer to understand and use the products well. These documents and articles are self-serve tools for the users. They provide aid to the Customer Support team while responding to user queries. Tech Writers use screenshots, short How-to and Product videos, and process diagrams to make their articles richer and easier to read.
Tech and Content Writers require similar skill sets like excellent communication and writing skills, the ability to comprehend complex concepts, and research skills. Additionally, Tech Writers require skills to understand codes and document them. While writing integration guides, they need to do hands-on testing on the products, installation, and configurations before they write.
With this blog, we hope that people will no longer mix up a Tech Writer with an Instructional Designer or Content Writer and appreciate the value the Technical Communicators bring to an organisation.