Raising awareness of the value of technical communication: Different contexts, but a common challenge

Paris Diderot University, July 2017


In spite of many attempts to enhance the value of technical communication, it remains hidden in the background. There is a wide gap between how people perceive technical communication and what it is exactly. Which tools or methods could be used to raise technical communication awareness, when technical communicators work in various professional contexts? We investigated how technical communication is perceived within a company. Then we set up a strategy to define tools that could be relevant to our work context, some of them being metrics or internal communication, for example. In the
end, these tools proved to be efficient but may not give the same results in other contexts.
If any case, the best lesson we take from this research is use what we know best: to
communicate. Just like cobblers do not make good shoes for themselves, technical communicators have a great skill they often misuse. In order to change the way we are perceived and break silos in whatever company we may be working for, it is up to us to reach out to others, using our experience. This paves the way for an emerging type of communication: Information 4.0.

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Technical communication: a two-sided coin?

Koussai HOUSSINE, Laetitia NALY, Axel PETIT
Paris Diderot University, July 2017


Technical communicators like to perceive themselves as go-betweens who use language to bring tech objects closer to the general public. Still, is technical communication (abbr. TC throughout the article) really a two-sided coin that bridges the gap between the humanities and science, the “two cultures” in Charles Percy Snow’s terms?
The aim of this paper is twofold: testing the assumption that makes technical communicators middlemen between the two cultures, and to do so, defining the features of the language of TC by general linguistic standards. A sharp analysis of the language of technical communication provides many interesting clues to define its identity.
First, a short history of technical communication since World War II helps us understand how the language of technical communication changed with economic, social and political contexts. Second, we sketch a definition of human language in order to set an accurate theoretical frame and to define the features of the language of technical communication. Third, the discussion of a series of tests completes the qualitative analyses of the first two parts. It provides evidence to support the conclusion of this paper.

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Compelling documentation: a way to improve the user experience?

Laure Bach-Barast – Laetitia Bossu – Justine Gaucherand- Sarah Lasaracina
Paris Diderot University, 2017, July 31


Most people do not read user guides on their own initiative. When they do, it is often because they have no choice, or when they encounter a problem and need a solution. According to the general public composed of a representative sample of 105 people surveyed for our research purpose, guides are deemed plain, unattractive and people usually feel compelled to read them. Indeed, reading user manuals require a certain effort that people are not always ready or willing to make. Hence, they already have a somewhat biased view of the guide even before opening it. Thus, it might be interesting to wonder if a compelling documentation can improve user experience. User Experience implies not only the use of the product, but also the quality of documentation, if it answers questions and solves potential problems in the best, quickest, and most fluent way. User Experience is a cause-and-effect relationship between documentation and the product: the better the information, the better the use will be. However, is it possible to make documentation more compelling in the first place? How can technical writers alleviate the global reluctance to user guides? This paper provides possible solutions in order to make user manuals more compelling to users.

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Should companies combine marketing and technical content to adapt to the shift in UX expectations?

Saran Kante, Clémence Bolinga, Dina Radaoarisoa
July 2017


Companies put customers’ needs at the center of their strategy to build a relation of trust and increase customer’s loyalty to their products. In their effort, companies become more and more prone to offer customers a linear experience from the moment they are attracted by the perspective of buying a product or service (marketing) up to after their buying act when they start using the product or service (technical communication). The quality of both marketing and technical content is crucial.
We wanted to have an insight of what experts of technical communication and marketing think of a possibility for these two services to collaborate. In order to get this information
we interviewed professionals from these two fields, we attended conferences and seminars on the subject of combining technical content with marketing content to unify customer experience.
Companies undertaking such a change should thoroughly study the transition process, the product and the profit.
One of the challenges a company would face is how to make two services that are used to working separately pool their skills to achieve a common goal which is to provide their users a high quality service. The credibility customers grant to a company depends on it.
Because the two services use their own terminology to achieve their respective goals, they would need to reach an agreement on the terms they are both going to use to produce their content.

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Technical innovation: what impact on quality in technical writing?

Deepa HANS, Cécile LEANG, Anne RIVIÈRE
Paris Diderot University, July 2017


Nowadays, innovation is considered as a race for companies. Companies need to win this race in order to stay ahead of the game. In this frantic pursuit of innovation, it is important to keep in mind that innovation for innovation’s sake is pointless. To bring value to companies, innovation must lead to quality improvement and cost reduction. Like any other profession, technical writers are compelled to innovate in order to stay relevant. The most obvious expression of innovation lies in the introduction of new tools in the documentation process.
This article explores the impact of technical innovation on the documentation process and product. To be valuable, technical innovation needs to enhance the quality of the process or the product. This article aims at answering the following question: to what extent does technical innovation impact the quality of the documentation process and product? To a lesser extent, we also analyze the role of innovation-driven companies in fostering innovation for technical writers.
In addition to reading articles on innovation, quality and the relationship between the two, we also carried out a survey aimed at technical writers. From the results, we found out that while technical innovation improves both the documentation process and product, the most significant impact may actually come from rethinking information flows and team organization.

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