TechWhirl: Technical Communication Recap for August 3, 2012

This week’s update on technical communication and the TechWhirl community is supported by Platinum sponsor Madcap & their Ultimate Communications Suite, MadPak |

As we turn the corner from July into August, TechWhirl moves from “Meet Your Customer” to “Spy vs. Spy: Tech Comm vs. Marketing.” Rather than an abrupt change of subject, we think of it more as a shift in perspective, like turning the prism in a different direction. That’s because the customer (whether internal or external, a business or a consumer) is the focal point of service, marketing and technical communication.  Or to mix our metaphors a bit, the customer is the seat of the three-legged stool, supported by professionals in each of these three disciplines.

Often technical communication professionals work as all three legs, often they seem at completely at odds with service/tech support and especially marketing.  The TechWhirl archives have discussions going back decades (quite literally) that often paint marketing folks in a truly unfavorable light, being from “the dark side,” and more. During August, we’ll take a look at what divides—and what unites—the people who wear the technical writer mantle and those that wear the copy writer mantle.  We’ve also launched a new page where you, your friends, and total strangers can submit customer service stories.  Our goal is to explore how technical communication can and does impact the overall customer experience. And, it should help us gain understanding as we attempt to tie customer service and marketing communication together within the integrated technical communication framework.

It should prove to be a very interesting, and even entertaining month!

Enjoy, and have a great weekend!

-The gang at TechWhirl

  Tech Writer This Week for August 3, 2012

Have you wondered about the difference between technical writing and poetry? What’s really going on when you see the word “simply” in documentation? Why technical content can seem disconnected? How so many UI messages could be written to be so unhelpful? Folks in the technical communication blogosphere have, and Tech Writer This Week has curated these lofty thoughts, along with tips on managing email and job hunting experiences.

  Technical Communication Poll: Interacting with Internal Customers

Challenges exist in interacting with customers, both internal and external. Many technical communicators would give almost anything to get some sort of feedback from end users. At the same time, internal customers have agendas, idiosyncrasies, and conflicting priorities that make a lack of end-user feedback seem like a walk in paradise. Nonetheless, if you work in an organization with two or more people, you have internal customers. We’re curious about the culture, objectives and personalities that impact technical communication teams and how those interactions with internal customers happen (or fail to happen).

  Adobe FrameMaker 11: The Good, the Bad, and the Structured Author

FrameMaker is as close to an industry standard tool that we technical communicators have. FrameMaker isn’t for everyone in every circumstance, but absolute cost should be the last factor to consider; value for your money should be the first. I can honestly tell you that I have four different versions of FrameMaker installed on my machine, and I see the value in every upgrade.

  Researching Technical Communication and Customer Service

Customer Service Experience” and “Customer Experience Management” may seem like just the latest, trendiest buzz words in business, but a simple Google or Bing search on customer service complaints, produces more than 62 million results, indicating the obvious—that customer service has an enormous impact on businesses. Less obvious, but important in our world, technical communication can have an enormous impact on businesses as well.

Technical Communication News

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We want to send a very special “thank you” to our sponsors for their support.

Platinum: Adobe Systems Incorporated

Gold: ComponentOne Software, Madcap Software

Silver: Society for Technical Communication (STC), Vancouver Island University


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