Where do technical writers stand in terms of product adoption? Do they influence the end product in any way, or is describing product functionality their only task? To answer this quickly — documentation teams are equally important for product adoption and development as other teams.
If contribution of technical writers is barely noticeable aside from user manuals looking like sets of instructions — this is not a good sign for a company at all. In a healthy product development environment, technical writers actively participate in the development process and can influence the product and user experience in a positive way. Let’s see how this can be implemented in a work process.
Writing Product Stories
The role of a technical writer has been changing from simply describing how things work to creating better user experience by means of developing product stories. In other words, the aim is not explaining the product but rather showing its possibilities and entwining this with what users want from this product. To create a product story, one needs to go deeper to understand what users need to know in order to be successful on their journey. For a documentation team this means working closely with other departments and participating in product development: communicating directly with product owners, working with support, devs and QA.
If you are creating online documentation, you can benefit greatly from analyzing reader statistics. Modern help authoring tools like ClickHelp offer both the Google Analytics integration and powerful in-built statistics. Looking through this data regularly can help to understand more about what users are interested in, so you can recreate their stories and see what can be done so that the product and user stories meet halfway.
Tech Writers in QA
Technical writing specialists quite often are the first real users of a product. Especially, when we are talking about software documentation. So, technical writers can be called testers in a way, too. A lot of bugs get reported by tech writers.
They also can give advice on UX because part of a tech writer’s job is recreating user actions step by step and describing them thoroughly, so the bottlenecks become quite obvious. If you would like to understand more on where technical writers stand in cross-team communication, and which communication channels are the most important for them, refer to the following blog post — Cross Team Communication for Technical Writers.
All in all, a technical documentation team can shape up the product nicely. To make this happen, documentation team reps should be invited to meetings where PO’s and devs discuss product development strategies. Such common efforts always bring better results.
As you can see, technical writing teams play an important role in the product development and adoption processes. Their task is not to merely describe stuff, but put a product or a service into action. Incorporating modern help authoring tools into the work process, analyzing user stories, creating solid communication channels between tech writers and other teams will impact the end product tremendously, enhancing user experience.
Good luck with your technical writing career!
ClickHelp Team, host and deliver documentation across platforms and devices
ClickHelp - Professional Online Technical Writing Tool. Check it out: https://clickhelp.com/online-documentation-tool/