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Why does the world need technical communicators? (11 reasons)

That’s easy to answer. Ben Minson from Gryphon Mountain has a tidy list of the seven reasons your company needs a technical communicator.

  1. End Users Need Documentation
  2. Technical Communicators Look at the Product with a User Perspective
  3. Technical Communicators Help with Quality Assurance
  4. Having Quality Documentation Reflects Positively on Your Organization
  5. Documentation Provides a Record
  6. Documentation Saves on Support Costs
  7. Technical Writers Have a Versatile Skill Set

He added four more reasons after posting the first seven.

  1. Technical Communicators’ Information Gathering Gets the Team to Think Critically
  2. Technical Communicators Are Specifically Trained
  3. Technical Communicators Lighten the Load
  4. Technical Communicators Can Provide Training and Support

These are Ben’s 11 reasons in brief. Read the articles to learn the story behind each link.

I like Ben’s reasons, but I wanted to test whether I could add my own – brief – interpretation to his reasons.

  1. End Users Need Documentation – Our work provides the missing link between the product or service and the user, enhancing the experience.
  2. Technical Communicators Look at the Product with a User Perspective – We are the user’s advocate.
  3. Technical Communicators Help with Quality Assurance – We (should) live, breathe, and think quality!
  4. Having Quality Documentation Reflects Positively on Your Organization – Our quality adds or increases value for everyone.
  5. Documentation Provides a Record – We are vital piece in that entire compliance/regulations/requirements picture.
  6. Documentation Saves on Support Costs – When the documentation helps the user figure out the problem on their own, thereby avoiding any irritation caused by calling support – well, I told you we added value!
  7. Technical Writers Have a Versatile Skill Set – Many workplaces discover that if anyone knows the answer, it’s the technical communicator – the challenges we face over time contribute to an impressive amount of knowledge that frequently covers all situations.
  8. Technical Communicators’ Information Gathering Gets the Team to Think Critically – We ask questions. All the time.
  9. Technical Communicators Are Specifically Trained – We are professionals.
  10. Technical Communicators Lighten the Load – Give the qualified professionals the jobs!
  11. Technical Communicators Can Provide Training and Support – Because our work takes us to the many corners of the product or service, we have the potential to provide training and support.

I’d also like to add that documentation here is anything that communicates information about the product or service to the user. Because technical documentation can be so many things, these examples cover the classic manual, online help, user interface text, videos, podcasts, illustrations, design, and whatever else might be a way to communicate information.

This list can actually be extended and branch in other directions. That is the true versatility of technical communication. The names of the special interest groups (SIGs) in STC can give you an idea of how varied and versatile we are, and still there is more magic that we can do. I leave that to other blog posts on other days and perhaps by other bloggers. Maybe you?

Hat tip til Tom Johnson for posting these links at Writer River. By the way, this post comes from something I started to work on a long time ago. Hurray for drafts in WordPress! It came in very handy for Problogger’s Day 2 challenge to write a list post!

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