New You for New Technical Writing Year
New Year is coming and I’ve already written my technical writing resolutions where I describe some general aspects like reading more books, take a course and so on, you can read them here: My Technical Writing Resolutions for 2019. Now it’s time to talk about the skills that you need to build to be more successful in the new year.
Nowadays, technical writing is more than just writing, you should be able to design your documents and show your words graphically because everyone is a visual person and it’s easy to get the main idea through a picture or a video.
Any time you can show an idea graphically, you score a hundred points with the reader.
There are so many tools that allow you to create great screenshots, pictures, diagrams and so on. For example, you can create graphics using Markdown and boost your skills: Diagrams in Documentation (Markdown Guide). Here are more professional tools for creating visual content:
Usability and Testing skills
Technical writers quite often are the first real users of a product, so they may be asked to take an active role in usability and testing, so they are testers in some way. But even if a technical writer is not asked to take this role, he/she should test and use a product to know it well in order to write high-quality documentation.
Technical writers should be a confident computer user since they produce documentation in a variety of formats. Specific tool knowledge, such as Adobe Illustrator, Microsoft Visio, Atom and so on will make your working process more productive and effective.
It’s not nonsense if I say that if you have an issue, the first thing you do is opening the Internet and searching for the information there, not opening a hard manual version. That’s why many tools provide an option to publish your documents online. As you publish your documentation, it gets indexed by a search engine like Google. That’s why you need to learn how search engines work, what is SEO and how to use it for marketing purposes. Yes, you can use your documentation for marketing; if you want to learn more about it, read the article called Technical Writing as a Marketing Tool.
Many technical writing tools provide users with Google Analytics integration to help tech writers examine metrics to improve their documentation. How can you use Google Analytics? For example, Google Analytics tracks bounce rate. If this rate is high and average session duration is low, it’s a sign that it is not helpful enough and people expect to see something different in this topic. Pay special attention to it, add more information or screenshots to help people find what that need.
If you don’t know Google Analytics functionality well, here is a course for beginners that shows how to navigate the Google Analytics interface and reports, and set up dashboards and shortcuts. The course will also demonstrate how to analyze basic Audience, Acquisition, and Behavior reports, and set up goals and campaign tracking.
Of course, this is not a complete list of skills but I think these ones are the most trendy.
What skills do you want to build in the new year?
How did I become a technical writer? What skills do you need? Read FAQ on Technical Writing.