If you need spinal surgery, would you hire a pediatrician to perform the surgery? No, you would want a neurosurgeon, because that’s their specialty. So, why do businesses often ask software developers to write documentation when that is the job of a technical writer? Today we will look at creating documentation from the perspectives of software developers and technical writers.
Developers vs. Documentation
In this digital world, developers are the architects of technology. They are experts in problem-solving, creating the code for every electronic device we use today. In software development, they record every detail of an application to ensure the information is accessible and to have a knowledge transfer plan for other developers.
Yet, the same engineers fluent in programming languages hate writing documentation. Furthermore, companies insist the creators of an application should be the ones to write how it works. However, developers find writing documentation to be a tedious process that often becomes an afterthought.
With such analytical minds, companies believe developers can write with ease. However, many lack the skill and knowledge of technical writing and are unable to communicate information to audiences with no technical background. As a result, they create jargon-filled documents only other developers can understand.
Regardless of their coding skills, developers must understand the severity of poorly-written documentation. For a company, they run the risk of losing potential clients, as well as existing ones. Also, it can disrupt the company workflow. If developers are looking for information, they may find outdated or incomplete documents. When you generate low-quality documentation, not only will it leave room for errors, but it will also cost time and money for your company to correct those mistakes.
So, how do you ensure your documentation is high-quality? Hire technical writers!
What are Technical Writers?
Technical writers are professionals who explain complex information in a clear, concise, and useful manner and help audiences understand how to use that information efficiently.
How Technical Writers Can Help Software Developers
You can find technical writers in all industries. Therefore, hiring one with an engineering background can help developers by creating software documentation.
Communicating technical information requires techniques to make information accessible, help new users learn quickly, simplify a product, and cut costs. Technical writers also possess the skills to form document management systems. These systems allow a company to create, share, organize, and store content efficiently.
With proper documentation, employees can stick to their respective roles and responsibilities. Developers can concentrate on coding, while technical writers focus on content strategy.
Below are a few communication skills a technical writer often uses to improve your documentation.
Style Guide. Creating a style guide ensures consistency throughout the documentation in terms of terminology, tone, formatting, and visual aids. Well-structured documents will improve the user experience for in-house employees and customers. When combined with high-quality content, customer impressions of a product will improve.
Tools. The best software for developing documentation will help develop content, design a specific style & format, and communicate information to the reader. Choosing the right software will help streamline the documentation process with single-sourcing techniques, centralized document management, and team collaboration. It will save you time by updating and creating new content for the future. Not to mention, the right tools will grant all team members access to everything, improving company cohesion and clarity in communication.
Audience Analysis. Communicating relevant information based on the audience’s needs and the purpose of the document is key. The clear distinction between users will improve communication and increase efficiency and productivity. For example, new staff will have access to training materials and reference guides to prevent fewer errors.
A company should have successful documentation rather than unusable content. Even though software developers may find writing documentation to be an inconvenience, companies that hire technical writers to assist developers will produce high-quality documentation. Added benefits are that it reduces the workload on developers, saves the company time and money, and speeds up documentation projects. Finally, it shows that companies are most efficient when leaving developers just to coding.
At EDC, we have professional technical writers to help your software developers produce successful documentation practices. Whether you need a team of consultants to produce a complete line of documentation or a single technical writer for a brief project, Essential Data’s Engagement Manager will lead the project from start to finish. At Essential Data Corporation, the quality of our work is guaranteed. Contact us today to get started. (800) 221-0093 or email@example.com
Written by Kimberly Jones