Technical Communication Poll: Reality Check on Technical Content Delivery

Great technical communication professionals want to stay ahead of , and take advantage of, the latest technology, best practices and bleeding edge approaches.  It’s why we attend conferences, register for webinars, and go through tutorials. And we know how important emerging technology and techniques are for keeping your organization out in front of the competition (not mention honing your skills sets).  However, the speed with which we would like to adopt the latest and greatest in technical communication is often far greater than our employers willingness to invest in the training and implementation required.

This led us to wonder how many technical communicators are still delivering technical content in the “tried and true” fashion that’s been the norm for the last decade or so.  For example, I have a client that wants very much to deliver a cloud-based help center for its products and services, but the budget and time constraints are such that user manuals delivered as PDF are top priority. We’re pretty sure there’s a better way to provide user support, but single-sourced, topic-based content will just have to wait.

We suspect, in a time when far too many employers still don’t really understand what technical communication is and how it adds value, that  many companies expect delivery of documentation that isn’t designed for multiple channels, mobile devices, or short attention spans.  So perhaps a reality check is in order.  And we’d like to hear from technical communicators across the range of industries and team sizes as to how you are really delivering technical communication content (rather than how you ought to deliver it).  From large teams working on technology’s latest in fully automated workflows, to lone writers delivering assembly instructions, packaging copy, training material, or user manuals via word processors on old operating systems.

At TechWhirl, we like to cover the latest and greatest tools, frameworks and approaches to delivering great technical content that meets the customers’ needs. But we also know that many writers are challenged by environments where other concerns take precedence. For those technical communicators, “making do” may still be the order of the day. If so, we’d like to hear from you… about what challenges you face, and what topics could provide more assistance to you.  Start with the poll (and we know the answers are not inclusive of every possible combination or contingency), and feel free to add a comment or start a thread on the email discussion list.

For what kinds of technical content, using what delivery methods, are you currently responsible?

View Results

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Daniel Archer (@danielarcher)

10 years ago

Great idea, but where’s the poll? There’s nothing on this page. Not even a link.

Connie Giordano

Connie Giordano

10 years ago

User error for which I apologize! I forgot to turn it on–you should be able to vote now.

Connie

Penny Staples

10 years ago

I work for a company that sells a highly-customizable software product, and there is a requirement for us to produce documents that our customers can edit themselves. The intent is for them to integrate our software product into their existing work processes, and to do that effectively they need to be able to cannibalize our documentation. My job is to make it easy for them to do that.

In our case this means we deliver many documents using plain old Microsoft Word. So, we concentrate on analyzing our audience carefully, keeping the format simple, and organizing and writing the content clearly and carefully. Though this can sometimes be a bit frustrating (it’d be so much fun to play with the latest hot tools) these are all things that are at the heart of technical communication. We do try to keep up with what the latest trends are though!

Karen Lowe

10 years ago

Business Process content – some comapny/business unit Standards
Currently in PDF and HTML (generated out of DITA)

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