why you need to hire a tech writer

This blog post explains why you need to hire a tech writer for your tech writing business needs. As an imposing, desperate Irishman once said, you need someone with “a very particular set of skills, acquired over a long career”. This someone must be able to write to a professional standard, have experience of writing in the business world, and specialise in wielding technical terms with extreme prejudice. Each of these three criteria are absolutely necessary. Otherwise, your hiring choice will become “a nightmare for people like you”.

Why You Need a Professional Writer

  1. More people than you think are functionally illiterate. Approximately 1 in 5 in the UK fall into this category.
  2. Of those that can write, many can’t write well. Their knowledge of the basic principles of grammar and punctuation, tense and voice, for example, are at a child’s level.
  3. Of those that can write well, it is unlikely that they know why they are writing well or what makes good writing. They would be unable to explain best practice in paragraph and sentence structure; headings and signposts; numbering, lists and links; or use of media.

Why You Need a Business Writer

Business writing is different from other types of written format. Someone might write professionally in other contexts – academic, journalistic, creative – but this does not ensure they have the necessary skills or experience for writing in a business context. In fact, such a background may make the context switch more difficult. Simplicity, clarity, directness, and consistency are some of the key style attributes of business writing. Also, there are many types of written content that are unique to business and that require a specific knowledge of style and tone of voice that is appropriate for it.

Why You Need to Hire a Tech Writer

Technical writers specialise in types of business writing that differ from regular business blog posts, newsletters or case studies. If you’re unsure what they are, then read What is Technical Writing? first.

A technical writer operates in the realm of ‘information architecture’ and:

  • Extracts information from software, manufacturing, medicine, pharmaceutical and many other technical specialisms and translates it for other technical, less technical and (very often) non-technical users. The material may be read by a fellow professional. Equally, it may be read by a new start, fresh out of uni.
  • Devises a structure for this information – how it is grouped, ordered, presented and linked
  • Writes steps and maps processes for operations, processes and organisations of every size – and is unafraid to be hacking it together from a blank page
  • Produces style guides, tone of voice documents, templates for document types and naming conventions that can be employed across the board

As well as these larger tasks, technical writers are masters of a thousand smaller techniques – from writing UI text, menu names and tooltips to code formatting or writing technical terms – that they apply to the full range of technical documents. But the bread and butter of technical writing includes:

  • Support and Knowledge Base pages
  • Writing Style Guides
  • Content Procedures and Standards
  • Changelogs, Release Notes and Product Updates
  • Technical blog posts
  • Process maps
  • Screenshots, photographs and diagrams
  • Templates

Technical writing isn’t something that anyone can do because they took a writing class in school. (Clue: it’s not typing!) Don’t diminish your quality product or service by hiring a someone to do tech writing who isn’t trained in it. And don’t squeeze someone into the role of writing it who is hampered by a lack of specialised knowledge, skills and experience to enable them perform the function to a high standard. Worse, don’t load it onto already time-poor developers or marketers (otherwise you may start to encounter the 7 Most Commons Mistakes in Technical Writing). Hire a technical writing partner who eats, drinks and sleeps information architecture!

If you’d like a chat about your product documentation, ping us a message.