The Role of the Technical Communicator: What We Do
by Lily Keire
The technical writer is the people’s interpreter. We think through how a non-technical person may think and act when encountering a new procedure or product. The technical writer then communicates just the information needed by this particular audience in order that they may complete the task at hand or use the product they need to use.
If the writer does his or her job correctly, everyone benefits: the maker, the user, and all the other people whose lives are touched by each successful outcome in today’s let’s-do-this-now-world.
This requires communication skills, imagination, and a command of writing in a wide variety of styles, for very different audiences. The technical writer must be detail-oriented. There is no room for misinterpretation. In this job, that which is clear prevails, while that which is confusing is, well, never read or referenced.
How content is presented must not be a barrier to the user’s understanding; it must be readable, searchable, and structured with convention in mind so that it can be easily recognized and quickly consumed. The text must support user agency. We must not ask more of the reader than the minimum amount of time required to digest the needed information.
The user’s source of truth is a well-vetted text. That is the writer's goal. If the goal is met, the appreciative user is helped along their merry way, not stopped at the crossroads, unsure of how to proceed.