M2 CDMM 2017/2018 – Université Paris 7 Paris Diderot
Technical writing has undergone drastic changes from its early beginnings to the advent of the Internet, adapting to all the technological innovations that punctuated the century since its conception. One of the most important changes being that technical writers do not spend as much time writing as was formerly expected of their profession. Instead, companies ask them to broaden their working scope from writing to taking care of whole documentation systems. Technical writers have gradually become technical communicators, mastering various skills – including but not limited to writing. However, the job title has not evolved as quickly as the profession: there seems to be a discrepancy between label and reality, which could be the explanation to a lack of recognition for technical communicators in Europe. In light of this observation, we conducted a survey on 40 French technical communication experts and analyzed the existing literature on the topic. Our objective: find out why “technical writer” has become a catch-all term of technical communication. Our journey starts at the origins of technical writing, continues with an overview of the profession’s representation in Europe and provides an analysis of the gaps between technical writers and technical communicators.
Saran Kante, Clémence Bolinga, Dina Radaoarisoa
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.
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.
Victoria Genin, MarcAlexandre Jacques, Tiphaine Monange
Paris Diderot University, July 1st 2016
With the creation of international standards and the rise of public awareness, web and software accessibility have become a topical issue. Yet, it seems like accessibility is still rarely taken into account by technical companies who prefer to focus on innovation.
Part of the usability and accessibility of a software is based on its documentation. As technical writers, we wondered which role technical writers have to play in fostering accessibility.
The information used in this article was drawn from three main sources. In addition to reading articles written by accessibility researchers, we carried out two surveys to study the scope of accessibility in the creation and navigation of user interfaces: the first one was sent to disabled users and the second one to professionals. We also interviewed a highly experienced technical writer trained in accessibility. The results led us to conclude that technical writers definitely have a key role to play in fostering accessibility standards – either by increasing their cooperation with developers or by implementing accessibility solutions themselves.
Sarah Consentino, Paul Desreux, Alexandre Dias Da Silva, Vincent Perrot
Paris Diderot University, July 2016
The digital revolution has changed consumer behavior in the software industry, and digital organizations must keep up with all those changes to stay competitive. As a result, understanding customers’ needs has become part of technical communication. By compiling recent data and studies, this article aims at answering the following question: to what extent have technologies impacted the way that technical communicators assist users to offer them the best experience possible? We first analyzed how companies are starting to place more emphasis on customer experience through digital channels, and to what extent those changes have impacted the way technical communicators present the information and talk to customers. Then, we investigated and found out why technical communication is now perceived as a measurable added business value for companies.
This article demonstrates how technical writing will need to evolve to better suit the Y Generation (the “Millennials”). A brief definition of the millennial generation will be outlined, followed by a comparison of past, present, and future means of sharing information. The ultimate goal of the article is twofold. First, to present the emergence of new communication tools and digital media such as QR codes or e-learning publications, and how using the Internet is an effective means of enabling and developing collaborative communication. Second, to demonstrate how this media could be used to improve technical documentations’ user accessibility, mobility and interactivity. To conclude, we will highlight the pros and cons of these new media resources.
In technical documentation, content must be clear and consistent and visual layout as a whole must be uniform. Ensuring these principles makes it easier for the user to understand documentation and reinforces branding. This seems simple however achieving consistency requires a great deal of organization and effort from technical writers. The aim of this article is to present and defend various solutions for achieving consistency and improving user experience, through observations made in three different professional contexts: two computer software companies and one software and hardware company. In the first part, we will define some of the key elements that impact consistency: grammar rules, methods to address users and acute text architecture and present concrete tools and methods to improve consistency and their constraints. In the second part, we will present the most important aspect to take into account in order to find the best balance across methodologies to achieve consistency in technical documentation.
Fanny Bellaïche, Juliette Massardier and Marielle Morizot
Traditionally, technical communication leverages both technical writing and translation expertise. As both professions share some common skills and objectives, the activities of technical writers and translators are sometimes mixed up. However, they remain two clearly separated occupations and thus complement each other. Based on our working and academic experience as technical writers and translators, we are particularly aware of the importance of a balanced collaboration to align the documentation process with the requirements of today’s industry practice. Current research on the relationship between technical writers and translators mainly focuses on the study of their competences . This paper intends to go beyond the mere analysis of competences and to explore some best practices in order to bridge the gap between both professions: more specifically, to which extent can we consider the translator as a useful resource to improve the writing process? Firstly, we examine why technical writers and translators often collaborate to deliver efficient documentation in their respective fields of expertise. Secondly, we try to understand how technical writers and translators develop shared tools, such as style guides, in order to take advantage of each other’s work. Finally, we show that enhancing this relationship is not the only way to deliver professional documentation.
The arrival of Web 2.0 has changed the ways of working, especially for writers. A wide range of tools now exists, enabling different people to participate in the writing of one single document and introducing new methods of work within teams. These new work methods rely on tools that are constantly evolving. While some companies remain skeptical, others are already embracing these new practices. Either way, our position of apprentice makes us ideal observers concerning the choices made by our companies and the difficulties that the adoption of these new work methods raises. Such a change can be a real challenge, and selecting the right options to fit one particular situation can be a difficult task. We will first present the results of our research on the current state of the art in collaborative writing and how and why companies tend to use more and more collaborative writing methods. We will then explain the situation in the two companies that we work for, Atlas Copco (industrial tooling and equipment) and CNES (Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales, the French space agency), two companies which are heading in opposite directions in terms of collaborative writing. We will observe the practices, tools, processes and work dynamics involved in writing for both companies. Finally, based on what we found and observed in the first two parts, we will compare theory and reality concerning collaborative writing in companies.