9 Technical Writing Skills for every Writer

technical writing

Want to be a good technical writer? It is a skill that’s beyond content writing and general writing that one has to retain to keep up with the ever-changing market. Technical writing is one of the top paying writing jobs in the market.

My statement might be very straightforward but to stay updated with the latest trends can be very frustrating with maintaining an updated personality for the new processes.

Many a time, the best thing to do to survive in the corporate sector is to adapt to digital transformation. To taste success, every technical writer must keep themselves to the distinct demands and find themselves in a corner where they can contribute to the business.

This article speaks about the essential features that it takes to become an exceptional technical writer. The skill set and qualities every technical writer should possess and the methods to improve.

What are the 9 top skills that every technical writer must possess?

  1. Clear comprehension of and familiarity with your product
  2. Thorough knowledge of the market for your product
  3. Using user personas
  4. Technical documentation essentials
  5. Controlling the communication channel
  6. Knowledge of software tools for technical writing
  7. Basic knowledge of graphic and web design
  8. Research abilities
  9. Teamwork and collaboration

9 must learn Technical Writing Skills for every Writer

Understanding the changing market over the decade, the most important technical writing skills for every technical writer who pursues a career in documentation are as follows:

Clear comprehension of and familiarity with your product

Understanding your product is essential to make great documentation. This includes: 

  • Functions of the product
  • The solution and value the document gives
  • Stability, performance, and other aspects (non-technical and non-functional)
  • Repairing, troubleshooting, and replacement

Technical writers don’t need to be knowledgeable about internal components, design elements, etc. because they see the product as a “black box.” Consider Facebook as an example. You would need to be aware of Facebook’s FAQs, but not the fact that it was created using the PHP, C++, and D programming languages. You only need to be well-versed in common queries like “how to post on Facebook,” “how to add friends,” etc.

However, there is an additional dimension of connecting with other software products when it comes to technical documentation for software platforms. In these situations, some familiarity with the product’s interfaces (hardware interfaces, software API) is necessary.

Thorough knowledge of the market for your product

It is more difficult for technical writers to make a transition from one industry to another than it is for beginning software programmers. Because products cannot function alone, tech writers need to grasp how they do. They are frequently employed in the broad business industrial domain area as a component of a broader solution.

HCM software is one illustration. I would have an in-depth understanding of the HCM software market if I had previously worked at Workday. I would have to learn everything there is to know about the hotel and hospitality sector if I decided to leave Workday for a different provider of hospitality management software.

Having accumulated domain expertise is a tech writer’s secret weapon if they intend to work for similar brands of items. Companies should implement a product knowledge training strategy for their technical writers, and writers should take it upon themselves to thoroughly understand their product offers and industry.

Using user personas

A tailored user experience is key.

Prior to a product’s market release, the technical writer and the system tester serve as proxies for the customers. The product is set up, run, and troubleshot under the established specifications.

But there are many kinds of users. A single user may carry out all responsibilities associated with several consumer goods; for example, imagine someone creating technical documentation for a microwave.

On the other hand, a wide variety of users will be reading the technical documentation for widely used, commercially deployed devices. An illustration would be a retail store’s security surveillance system. An installation engineer is the intended user of an installation manual, while a service technician is the intended user of a troubleshooting manual. They might even work for various service providers.

Many businesses employ both tech writers and UX (user experience) developers. The fundamental ability needed is:

  • Use case analysis for installation, deployment, execution, and maintenance
  • Either B2C or B2B user profiling

Intermediaries, system integrators, and creators of software platforms are examples of B2B users. They have a deep understanding of the system and are focused on technical issues including operating system environments, hardware requirements, coding APIs, build tools, and test automation. Especially when various platforms and products are used to deploy a composite solution.

The majority of B2C users are non-technical people who only care about utilizing the product as a black box. Therefore, product documentation must use that viewpoint.

Technical writing / documentation essentials

The product lifecycle has always included technical writing in some capacity. Before the internet, a corporation could only communicate with a user at any stage of the lifecycle phase through technical documentation.

The figure that follows shows the many technical documents that the product teams’ draught for every stage.

technical-documentation-product-life-cycle-phase

In order to create new technical documents or to determine how to make your current ones better, it’s a good idea to keep an eye out for technical writing examples from other companies in your sector or vertical.

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Mastering the communication channel

Document booklets are provided with tangible goods. With the on-premise software programs, PDF documents are included for installation, usage, or maintenance. Customer support materials for SaaS products could take the shape of embedded videos, pop-ups, in-context web help, and FAQs.

Newer technological innovations, such as augmented reality (AR), are finding their way into regular product tours, support services, and documentation. Google’s street view is an illustration of how to overlay useful information over the actual product.

The relationship between the user and the product affects communication style. The user function determines the style of communication, not the other way around, as every technical writer must be aware of.

Knowledge of software tools for technical writing

Managing documents, creating layouts, writing, and editing audio and video are among the activities that a technical writer handles. Each of the duties are done by tools, some of which are cheap and expensive. Your business and product characteristics make the list of necessary right software tools.

These articles on the top technical writing tools and software for technical documentation are excellent starting points.

Basic knowledge of graphic and web design

Technical writing used to be unsophisticated, with documentation created using simple text editors like Notepad. However, modern, cutting-edge writing and documentation tools make it a point to incorporate modern interactive learning techniques like interactive visuals, in-app instructions, and superior UX/UI navigation in their design.

A technical writing ability that will set you apart in 2022 is having a basic understanding of both visual and web design.

Research abilities to aid in Technical Writing

Being a good writer for any sort of writing requires knowing how to research a topic well enough to become an authority on it. Technical writers are also a part of this.

Technical writers must fully comprehend their product and target the market. It is achieved through appropriate research and audience analysis. It also entails having a thorough understanding of data analysis as well as the presentation and collection of data that can withstand scrutiny.

Teamwork and collaboration

The ability to operate well in a team is essential for professional success. Working successfully with your team entails being able to effectively communicate with programmers and developers to fully explain the ins and outs of their product. It entails setting clear deadlines and keeping them with your project management.

Additional reading: Writers’ Essential tools

  • September 10, 2022