Re: Job Titles for TechComm People

Subject: Re: Job Titles for TechComm People
From: Andrew Plato <aplato -at- EASYSTREET -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 12 Feb 1998 19:36:15 -0800

 
>In the same vein as my previous question, would you say these people
>were all "technical communicators"?
>Product Specialist
To some extent, YES. 
>*Product manager
Good Lord, NO!
>*Client Advocate
NO
>*Communications Specialist
YES
>*Information Designer
YES
>*User Assistance Engineer (or similar)
NO
>*Product Information Analyst
NO
>*Usability Specialist
NO< NO, NO -- technical communications is NOT about usability.  It is about describing how to use things -- not how those things could be better designed for easier use.  That is what a usability specialist does.
>*Instuctional Designer
YES
>*Senior Information Designer
YES
>*Director of Technical Information
YES
>*Human Factors Professional
NO
>*Human Factors Engineer
NO
>*Usability Engineer
NO
>*Utility Infielder
NO
>*Senior Systems Analyst
NO
 
 
In my personal, highly biased, likely to irritate, opinion, technical communications is about COMMUNICATING things that are technical.  The role of the communicator is to clearly explain how something works, how it is designed, how it is used, what it does, and why it does what it does.  A communicator DOES NOT design the "something" nor does he/she test how well it works.  Quality control people and usability engineers should do that job.  While many engineering groups allow tech writers to have some input to the usability of a product, I do not think a writer should assume that role from day one.  It must be "earned" through developing good feedback mechanisms with engineers, scientists, analysis, and quality control people. 
 
I have worked with numerous writers who use their opinion that a product is poorly designed as an excuse not to write documentation.  I always want to bitch-smack these people and yell at them: "HEY!  It is not your friggin' job to decide how well the product is engineered.  Last time I checked, ENGINEER was not in your title, but WRITER was.  SO WRITE SOMETHING AND QUIT PRETENDING TO BE AN ENGINEER!" 
 
Likewise, a lot of writers get obsessed with usability.  This is one of those "earned" roles a writer gets.  Only after demonstrating that you have a brain are you allowed to make recommendations on usability.  Moreover, it is just that -- recommendations.  I can't tell you how many times I have seen writers obsess over usability issues and ignore their primary job  -- writing documents. 
 
Obviously every organization is unique.  Some organizations encourage writers to participate in usability and other such functions.  This is usually a good idea.  Everyone should be involved in these issues.  But, the reality is, a lot of engineers have titanic egos and they are not about to take one ounce of advice from a lowly technical writer.  Therefore, writers should not assume they are the "customer advocate" or the "usability engineer".  Writers are meant to WRITE documents. 
 
 
 

Previous by Author: UPDATE: The Network of Independent Technical Communicators
Next by Author: Re: Employment Interview
Previous by Thread: Job Titles for TechComm People
Next by Thread: Re: Job Titles for TechComm People


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

Sponsored Ads


Sponsored Ads