Table of contents
Technical writers are often categorized as people with almost no creative writing inclinations or proclivities. They aren’t expected to be technical enough to gainfully participate in the product development process, nor elegant enough in their professional language skills to be acknowledged as first-rate writers. They’re ghosts, if you will. Dispensable. Replaceable.
The users-first approach
As an established technical writer, I still remember that the first lesson I learned was oddly not about writing at all, but about standing up for your user. Yes, the person who should not only get a persona, but an actual chair in every product-discovery session.
Technical writers keep users at the forefront when they write, by training. But they carry their users’ personalities with them even before they write, by nature. It’s as if we befriend users to an extent that goes beyond just understanding their demographic or environment. We build a real person with likes and dislikes, so we know how to write content that’s easiest for users to consume and – better still – allows them to do their jobs efficiently.
Product teams build products with use-case scenarios, while technical writers bring these scenarios to life with documentation. So, when you expect a technical writer to write instructions for using a payment terminal for example, we write them so that the user not only uses the payment terminal, but more importantly is able to complete the task and get back to their actual job.
That’s the real-world outcome for the user. Not using the payment terminal but going back to their job after using it.
Building loyalty with words
Needless to say, users will happily use products and features not because they love them per se, but because these products and features add value to their lives, including the ability to do their jobs well.
Alan Cooper, father of Visual Basic and inventor of design personas, builds a similar case in his book The Inmates Are Running the Asylum: Why High Tech Products Drive Us Crazy and How to Restore the Sanity.
Cooper writes that companies continuously build technology without the average user in mind. The result is a product that’s designed to somehow make the user feel less intelligent while making the product seem superior. And that never builds user dedication and loyalty to the product.
Users will embrace products that add value to their lives and will be loyal to products that prevent them from making embarrassing mistakes. An exaggeration? That’s actually one of the design principles for considerate products written by Alan Cooper back in 2016. And every time a piece of content helps the customer do their job efficiently, that content helps build loyalty.
With continuous technological growth and cut-throat market competition, all businesses need an edge to thrive. And that edge is inspiring your customers to be loyal champions of your product, so you need to sell less to sell more. The catch for companies is how to garner that level of customer loyalty. The obvious answer would be to have as many user advocates as possible in your product development process.
Technical writers as user advocates
Technical writers are your number one user advocates. We continuously practice user advocacy in thought as well as in action.
We don’t just write for the user to understand the product, we write to create a stress-free environment for the user to use the product. And that builds customer loyalty! That’s why 99% of users say technical content is a primary or secondary criteria in the decision to purchase, according to Frost & Sullivan.
Product companies that want to be successful need to know that their technical writers are a conduit between their product and their customers. And they need to have their writers at the table from the earliest stages of product development, to promote customer loyalty and achieve product success.
Technical writers are neither dispensable nor replaceable. And we aren’t ghosts. We are team members who keep placing the user at the forefront of the product as well as the product content. That keeps us inspired and therein lies our motivation.
Radhika is a Content Manager at Mews, and has worked as a writer, translator and English teacher – so it's fair to say she knows her way around the written word.
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Mews Data Dive 2023