Re: Techwriter and designer?

Subject: Re: Techwriter and designer?
From: Alex Dianna <AADiann -at- ACCUSORT -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 24 Sep 1998 13:28:08 EST5EDT

Hello Pierre,

I'm not a "typical" tech writer, but I do have some experience that
might pertain to your question.

Pierre Roberge <PRoberge -at- FAMICTECH -dot- COM> inquired:

> I have a quick question for you. How many of you have a say on the
> fonctionality and/or the design of the interface, as a techwriter?

One of my job duties is to design and develop MS Access databases. I
also document them and write user guides.

> I am discovering numerous inconsistencies in the software I write the
> documentation for and I use that as an opportunity to suggest better
> ways of designing the interface.

If this is defined in your role as a tech writer, and your
coworkers (software developers and others) respect this, you are
very fortunate.

If it is not, and you sometimes face resistance to
your input, perhaps taking the approach discussed recently in another
post on this list might ease the way for you to suggest design
changes. That is, show the developers how the changes would benefit
THEM (less questions, more time to do their work).

After doing a good bit of usability testing on my databases,
I often use my findings to implement changes to both interface
design and documentation to better suit the needs of my audience.

> My goal is to be become in charge of the design of the interface AND
> also be responsible for the documentation. I studied in Human Factors
> Engineering and had a hard time finding a job in that field so I got a
> job as a techwriter and was promised that I would be part of the design
> of the software.
> Did that happen to anyone?

Wow, that's some promise! I hope it stands...

I've found that comments regarding software design are sometimes not
very well-received by software engineers. Take a look through
the archives to find some interesting posts on "Ego" issues that
others have encountered.

In my case, the only person I might offend if I deem an interface
inadequate, clunky, or confusing is myself. Thankfully, I'm pretty
good at taking my own constructive criticism : )


Alex Dianna
Technical Writer
Accu-Sort Systems, inc.
ph: 215.996.8741 fx: 215.996.8787

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