Technical Writer Job Challenges

Posted in TechComm on 11/19/20173 min read

Challenge

Technical writing doesn’t come without its fair share of challenges. For an outsider, creating user documentation may seem like a straightforward job: you receive the project details, analyze the task, and then just start writing.

But is it that simple?

A technical writer is, essentially, a communicator, and their job is to transfer information from one party to the next. They conduct research and create various forms of content, such as text, audio-visual, and multimedia that the company will integrate into manuals, design specifications, or the help section of their website.

Anyone who’s ever attempted to create content targeted at a broad audience can tell you that it takes a lot of craft to write something that is both engaging and delivers the desired message. Factor in a couple of technical jargons and the job just got harder.

So, what are the challenges that a technical writer faces?

Let’s find out!

Making It Simple versus Being Specific

That is perhaps the biggest dilemma technical writers face when creating user documentation: should they use simple language that can be understood by more people, or do they employ technical jargon for accuracy but risk user comprehension.

Keeping a healthy balance between the two can be difficult. Making the content too simple can show lack of expertise and users might distrust you, but too much technical jargon can be hard to understand for those who are not accustomed to it. It’s why technical writers also need to know the type of audience the content will be targeting.

Knowing from Where to Get Data

Being a technical writer doesn’t mean that you know how everything works. Most of the time, they spend a lot of time looking for information and trying to understand the topic before writing.

Search

But then again, you can’t exactly just Google it. Expert technical writers know where to look for the information they need and have access to a vast database of specialized articles and studies. They also use help authoring tools to assist them in the process of creating and managing the online help systems.

BTW, a HAT is not necessarily some software. What else can it be? Check out this article on the top 7 help authoring tools for tech writers to find out.

Knowing What Needs to Be Said, and How

Technical writers must work with other departments, such as the developers, and ask them to explain how the product works. The developers can provide the writers with extensive data about the project, but it is up to the technical writer to decide what needs to go in the documentation, and how it should be presented.

They’re an Essential Part of the Team

Developers often think they can write the software documentation themselves. The problem is that they can’t put themselves in the audience’s shoes and don’t understand how the user relates to the product.

Office

Programmers start from the core and build outward when developing, but users might be confused by this way of thinking.

It’s why documentation is best left in the hands of a technical writer. Sure, it doesn’t come without its challenges, but the results can be greatly rewarding.

Good Luck with your technical writing!
ClickHelp Team
Online Documentation & Technical Writing Tools

 

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