This is a polished version of a post I made in a group discussion on LinkedIn. In this case, a person who was about to graduate with an English degree was wondering about finding a position in technical writing. I tell what being a technical communicator means to me.
“Development Techniques for User Assistance in Smartphone Applications” was the title of the presentation given by Joe Welinske (WritersUA) at the February 15, 2011, meeting of the Puget Sound Chapter of the Society for Technical Communication. He shared some of his observations having worked with a couple companies developing user assistance for Apple® iPhone® applications.
A standard interview question is asking how I gain subject matter expert cooperation. For me, the best way is to get my hands dirty.
User assistance needs to match software as it was built, not envisioned. It takes time to create user assistance. A company wants to see a return on investment as soon as possible. There are considerations that must be made when creating the first version of the user assistance before the product is done.
A literal translation of text written in one language to another language does not necessarily convey the full meaning to someone reading the translated text. Localizing text, rather than simply translating text, can more fully convey all the meaning and nuance of the original. The Seattle Opera Company did some localizing of the Italian text into American English in the current production of the Barber of Seville. Seeing one of their examples conveys what localizing really means.
A variation on a familar cartoon to look at software development from a technical documentation standpoint.
Adult education is about teaching specific tasks needed for a job. Knowing how to use a particular piece of software has never made a dime for a company. Instead, knowing how to use the software (as a tool) to complete an activity that generates money is what counts. You want web-based training uses consistent and appropriate language and branding to communicate to the learner. Read how an instructional designer does this.
You have expectations on how you can use your content. Working with your writers through all stages of content creation or revision, your editor can have your content meet your usage expectations. Read how an editor does this.
As are all other types of writing, technical writing is an art. It differs from much other writing because it conveys technical information in an understandable, direct way for the reader to take action. The technical writer prepares content for storage, distribution, localization, and reuse. Techncial writing changes technical information into words targeted for those users who will use the documentation. Read more about the process.