TechWhirl: Technical Communication Recap for July 20, 2012

This week’s update on technical communication and the TechWhirl community is supported by Platinum sponsor ComponentOne & their Doc-To-Help Help Authoring Tool |

This was a week of varied, but relevant and lively discussions on the TechWhirl email discussion list, the kind of week that shows the broad range of the technical communication field. Section 508 compliance, strategies for organizing help systems, handling production of multi-language documents, tool questions and answers, trends and careers…all of which meant we had conversations with newbies and veterans, in all sorts of industries.

TechWhirl’s customers are technical communicators, and our community on the email list is just one way that we stay in touch with our customers. We also send and receive emails, exchange tweets, post to FaceBook, LinkedIn and Google+, announce jobs, release news, and deliver topical content that—happily—our customers are more than willing to respond to.  As technical communicators roles in our organizations’ customer service or customer experience strategies should take into account all the various ways those customers want and do interact with us.  Technical communication isn’t just about creating good technical content (after all, we could come up with thousands of interpretations as to what constitutes “good.”).  It’s about understanding the customer, what they want, how our companies are delivering it, and aligning the content with those expectations and needs.

This week, Jacquie Samuels provided a thoughtful and topical piece on Unified Content That Serves the Customer; we dusted off a funny, but painfully true column from our classic archives on how software really gets delivered, recapped what’s happening in the technical communications blogosphere and twitterverse, and offered a weekly poll on people skills that we may (or may not) need to succeed. Take some time to peruse the articles, vote, comment and post to the great threads on the discussion list.  And don’t hesitate to email us directly if you have a complaint or a compliment or a suggestion on how we can better serve you our TechWhirl customers.

Have a great weekend!

-The gang at TechWhirl

  Tech Writer This Week for July 20 2012

The dog days of summer in the northern hemisphere don’t mean any slowdown in relevant, interesting or entertaining posts to ponder and enjoy. Disruptive innovation, career perspectives, science writing, content curation versus search and more.

Classic Technical Communication Humor: Software Supreme

I once attended a seminar given by a Vice President for a software development firm. He discussed the business principle time to market. Time to market means, simply, that the sooner a new product is ready for sale the sooner we can make money on it, and the more money we can make overall. We lose money when a new product takes longer to develop.

  Technical Communication Poll: Those Pesky People Skills

There’s nothing like an article that panders to stereotypes to get those technical writer hackles up. Ron Hearn posted a link from the education pages of Yahoo! that ranks technical writing as the #2 career to pursue if you don’t like people. All we could say was “wow, really?” Most of the technical communicators we know have to have good people skills, and interact with people from internal and external groups fairly constantly, so we ask the folks who know whether people skills are important, and which ones matter most.

  Unified Content That Serves the Customer: Let’s Come Out of the Dark Ages

As user advocates, we technical writers should be outraged at the hoops our users have to jump through to find the information they need just because different kinds of content are created by different departments. All too often each department pushes content out to customers in their own ways, for their own reasons, which means we’ve created a mess of the entire user experience. Users ought to find everything they need, from training videos to operating system requirements, from high-level content to detailed tasks, from reviews to troubleshooting guides, in one place. I know, what a radical concept: make things easy.

Technical Communication News

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Platinum: Adobe Systems Incorporated

Gold: ComponentOne Software, Madcap Software

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


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