Re: This too is technical communication - long

Subject: Re: This too is technical communication - long
From: "Damien Braniff" <Damien -dot- Braniff -at- asg -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 6 Jun 2007 08:56:17 +0100

A couple of points from my own experience.
Docs CAN be a selling point. At one place I worked the company produced
IP designs so the docs were essentially their selling point. They had
data sheets on the products (designs) and, if anyone showed interest,
they had data books that covered things in more detail. Basically they
were to show that we knew what we were talking about.

A few years, ago as part of a course I was doing, I did a survey asking
companies who produced their docs (TWers, engineers etc), how they were
produced and how important they rated them (on a scale 1-10 where 1 was
v. important). Over 90% rated the docs as an integral part of the
product (1-3) and only one gave it a 10 (we have to provide them). To me
this shows that companied DO recognize the benefit of good docs and try
to produce them subject to constraints (cost, time to market etc.). They
also recognized that good docs saved them money (less support) and could
lead to repeat customers.

As part of my MA I surveyed users. The response indicated the 'added
value' supplied by good docs. If the docs were good they were, as others
have said, more likely to stick with the product through upgrades and
were more likely to buy more products from the same company. Poor docs
had the opposite effect - never again!

As to the 'professional idiot', when I started writing my mentor told me
to treat the users as complete idiots unless I knew different - it's a
'know your audience' thing. If you don't know, write for the idiot. If
they are idiots they'll find the manual useful. If they're not, they'll
be a bit irritated but skim and get what they need. It's all about
knowing the WHO. Often this ends up as a generic 'who' and all we can do
is our best.

Am I a 'professional idiot' - sometime unintentionally :-) I consider
myself to be reasonably intelligent and if I can't understand it then
(unless it's a specialized tech audience) the chances are the readers
may have trouble so simplify until I understand it. I note at this point
that sometimes (some procedures) the user doesn't need/want to
understand, just how to do it. Like at school we learned the area of a
circle is
pi x r-squared
We just follow the 'procedure' and it works :-)

On certification, it's been covered but, as with most things, there are
pros and cons. To me you'd need:
Basic - can write, doc design, gather info etc., what's covered
by most TW courses.
Options - as many as you like, covering the various areas we
write in - s/w, h/w, finance, specific tools etc.

Not easy to do but could provide the edge when applying for a job, all
other things being equal.

Damien Braniff
Sr. Technical Writer
damienb -at- asg -dot- com

Waterfront Plaza
8, Lagan Bank Road
Belfast, N. Ireland BT1 3LR
Tel: +44 (0) 28.9072.3124
Fax: +44 (0) 28.9072.3324



Create HTML or Microsoft Word content and convert to Help file formats or
printed documentation. Features include support for Windows Vista & 2007
Microsoft Office, team authoring, plus more.

True single source, conditional content, PDF export, modular help.
Help & Manual is the most powerful authoring tool for technical
documentation. Boost your productivity!

You are currently subscribed to TECHWR-L as archive -at- web -dot- techwr-l -dot- com -dot-

To unsubscribe send a blank email to
techwr-l-unsubscribe -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
or visit

To subscribe, send a blank email to techwr-l-join -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com

Send administrative questions to admin -at- techwr-l -dot- com -dot- Visit for more resources and info.

Previous by Author: RE: This too is technical communication
Next by Author: Re: This too is technical communication
Previous by Thread: RE: This too is technical communication... a little aside
Next by Thread: Indian jobs?

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads