Technical writers play an ever-increasing role in modern businesses, and they help connect complex tools and applications to employees, suppliers, and customers. Technical writing is “end-user–centric” communication that provides clear directions to help readers execute a given task efficiently. With the rate of technology and process change steadily increasing, there will always be a need to help others understand new information. This is due to the fact that business success depends on end–users being able to easily execute the front end of tools that have a highly complex and intricate back end.
This blog will highlight the five characteristics of great tech writers I have had the fortune to work with in the last 30 years. Please note that these characteristics also apply to the many user experience (UX) and content strategist roles seen in businesses today.
- End-User Advocacy
Perhaps the greatest characteristic of tech writers: their passion and dedication for the end–user. The great ones “walk in the end–users’ shoes” and ensure that their directions will enable these users to comprehend the content, every time, in as little time as possible.
One amazing tech writer I have spoken to recently (Jen Heller Meservey) has the below image on her LinkedIn profile. This sums up perfectly the end–user advocacy that great tech writers exhibit throughout every project. These writers demand to know who the audience is, what the audience knows, and the audience’s location, and they NEVER make assumptions.
Great tech writers have an endless curiosity about “how things work” and how one can improve the product, process, and environment. They always ask questions and possess good communication skills. Also, they don’t attempt tasks alone and are willing to ask for help in a way that team members understand and appreciate.
Dealing with SMEs sometimes requires the courage to ask questions when tech writers don’t understand a key concept or technical detail. SMEs by definition are busy and very knowledgeable, so asking a question that SMEs assume you know takes great courage.
Tech writers must thoroughly understand the concepts they are dealing with to properly present content to end–users. Unchallenged assumptions are not tolerated by great tech writers.
4. Stickler for Accuracy
Great tech writers have a stubborn and relentless drive for accuracy, organization, and clarity, which is reflected in their content. They never settle for OK – mediocrity is not in their vocabulary.
- Seek Feedback
Technical writing is rarely 100% correct in the first version, and it often takes multiple iterations and review cycles to get the best content. Great tech writers constantly seek feedback to improve the accuracy and usability of their content. They don’t take criticism personally; instead, they use it to their advantage. Far from being Kryptonite, feedback is to tech writers what spinach is to Popeye – much in the way that Popeye gets strength from spinach, tech writers use feedback to produce great content.
Want to Add Great Tech Writers to Your Team? LTS Can Help
At LTS, we offer technical writing and other L&D staffing and recruiting services to help your organization achieve its objectives. To learn more, please contact us today.