The job of a Technical Writer is to basically facilitate the proper transfer of the information in the most clear and effective way possible. I can say that with confidence that in a Technical Writer’s job writing part is just the tip of the ice-berg, because most of the time and efforts are consumed by the research work, understanding and planning. What is important is to put your mind and sole in these processes as they have a significant part in writing.
While working for an Android app’s guide/tutorial video and help section, I kept the following things in mind to produce the effective work. This app is designed to provide the assistant to the users who are looking forward to get a permanent tattoo, by generating designs after analyzing the personality and psychology of the user, and show how it will look at their desired body part in real time. The highlight feature of this app is the use of Augmented Reality (AR). The user needs to fill up a form about their personal and psychological details and select a body part where they wish to make the tattoo.
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The most important of all is the research part, because without the proper information and knowledge no other work can be done. It all begins with the researching about the product, but it is better to narrow the research are for better understanding. First step is to know, who is the audience? Before writing any piece of information anything it is important to know who will be consuming it, what are their needs and what do they care about. This makes it the first question which I ask my clients (or the software/product developers) and prepare a pen portrait, which is nothing but the profile of the client’s ideal customer. The details of this step helps during writing and I refer back to this throughout the project.
The next step is finding the positives, the major points which hold the ability to grab the reader in and create an urge in them to know more. As user-manuals are generally considered boring, this step helps in creating it intriguing enough, as they have their own importance.
Next is to list out all the key facts which require to be mentioned, their best order, and the certain terms which are necessary to be used in the description.
Research work doesn’t end at here, it is essential to have the sense of language and tone, which you need to follow. Why is it important to know this here while researching, is because the client might already have the presets for this.
I have to intensively depend on others to get the critical and in-depth information, which requires the ability to get along and communicate with the colleagues of multiple departments and teams. For this particular ability my education in journalism helps me to great lengths, as shying away from asking anything, is not the option.
Apart from the primary research with the client, I prefer doing my share of secondary research also, through internet, other professionals and books/journals to get the additional assignment-related information. The is where the need for the knowledge of technical translation helps, first of all, it is of most significance to have the appropriate knowledge of linguistic and aesthetic features of translation. Technical books/journals are written by the experts keeping mind that the reader already has the substantial amount of technical knowledge, which will not be the case with the audience. Hence, I need to translate the content into more simpler and understandable format, to make it more palatable for the target audience.
To make the User Experience easier for any User Interface, from websites to gadgets, technical writing can be the key. Proper technical writing play the significant role in a product’s success, as it enables a total amateur user to develop the ability to understand and use the interface smoothly.
Not having the clear idea about the audience: The first step towards understanding the audience was to approach the client, but it didn’t worked out in the expected way. The answers which I received from the client were shaky and unsure, hence, I took the help of secondary research methods, intensive internet browsing from various websites and forums to get the pulse of the technology and tattoo enthusiasts as well as the amateurs helped me sail through this, but it was an lengthy and time consuming process.
Getting information from the Subject Matter Experts: The field I was working on was new for me as I had very limited knowledge of AR and almost zero knowledge about tattoos. Hence, I had to talk to the SMEs, the problem was the information was high-end and again to tone it down internet came in my rescue.
Not getting any visible credit: Coming from the journalism background, bylines becomes an habit, which is not the case here. Well, this is where the maturity needs to kicks in.
Last minute changes and work: I believe in having all the details with me before starting my writing, therefore, the last work is not something goes down easily with me. But the another positive trait which I cherish is of commitment, and deadlines are commitments which are need to followed no matter what.