Redefine your audience through the gaps

When users find a gap in your documentation – some jump from A to C that gets negative feedback – don’t just fix it. Ask yourself how it got there. Gaps happen because: Someone didn’t think users needed the topic. This demonstrates a misunderstanding of the audience. someone didn’t think about the topic at all. …

This isn’t the job you were hired to do

When you start a new job, you can’t really work without a mental image of the job: “This is my role. This is what I should be doing and how I should be doing it.” But that image is about 90% wrong (yes, I made that number up), and you need to let go of it …

Quick writing tip: What’s the default, and why?

As a technical writer, one of the most important questions you can ask yourself is “what are the default values of the choices a user can make, and why”. For example, if an option is disabled by default, what does that tell you about the average user and their workflow? Are you trying to protect …

Don’t Let HR Block Your Next Technical Writer

First let me clarify – I’ve nothing against HR and their involvement in the hiring process. What I object to very specifically are two habits: letting HR choose who gets interviewed, and letting HR do the first interview and veto some of the candidates before they ever meet the technical writing team leader.

Do not Hire This Person: Technical Writers Edition

Three things some technical writers say that should serve as a warning sign that you may not want to hire them: “I only need to understand it at the UI level”. If you don’t understand how and why things happen, you’re no better than the user. Anyone can read a field label to understand what …

Do not Hire This Person: QA Edition

Written in collaboration with Efrat Wurzel Three things some testers say that should serve as a warning sign that you may not want to hire them: “I can’t understand a feature or start thinking about its tests until I use it”. Obviously there are some things that will click better when working with the feature. …