RE: waking up to the world of Technical Writing

Subject: RE: waking up to the world of Technical Writing
From: "Jones, Donna" <DJones -at- zebra -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 3 Jun 2004 11:56:42 -0500

-----Original Message-----
From: Mark Baker [mailto:listsub -at- analecta -dot- com]
I don't know why you think that a technical writer is fortunate to get to do
someone else's job instead of his own. I have never understood the
self-loathing of this profession. But if the intrusion of bored technical
writers into the UI design process leads to more of this sort of thing then
I say, stick to writing books. At least with a book I can put it on a shelf
out of my way.

Bored? Me? I'm simultaneously updating four user guides that need to be done
NOW. While I was working on those four for the last few weeks, I gave input
into the function of the new firmware, adding another pair of eyes to the
mix to find any bugs or annoyances that would make the user experience less
pleasant. I have a new user guide that has to be done by Tuesday and another
new one that has to be done a few weeks after that. It's been so long since
I was bored at work (or in my personal life because of my job and three
small kids) that I don't remember what being bored feels like!

You're mistaken if you think that everyone in the profession is
self-loathing. I love what I do, and I'm proud that I can provide valuable
input into the UI design process. It's part of everyone's job at our company
to help improve our products (from the newest line person in manufacturing
through the CEO), so I'm not doing anyone's job but my own. The engineers
tend to focus on what gets the job done most easily from a software point of
view, not necessarily on what would be easiest/best for the user. I help
make sure that the user interface is easy to understand and work with
because I have an eye for and have been trained to do so. The other part of
my job is to document anything that needs further clarification or
information or to anticipate any issues and document the solution before the
customer ever sees the product.

To writers and UI designers both I say this: You are the waiter, not the din
ner. I want you to be attentive when I need you, and out of sight when I
don't. Central to my experience are my meal and my companion. Your job is to
make sure that I get to enjoy them in peace.

I'm no mere waiter. I'm the End-User Maitre'D. I help make sure that our
user's experience with our products is as pleasant as it can be, and I'll
kick as many a**es as necessary (even those higher up than my own) to make
sure this happens.

So there! :-)


Donna L. Jones
Technical Writer II
Zebra Technologies Corp.
Vernon Hills, Illinois
djones -at- zebra -dot- com

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