The transversality of a technical communicator

Lyticia KADJITE, Camille KUI, Céline NGUYEN

M2 CTM, Université Paris Cité, July 2023

Abstract

Technical communicators are at the heart of product development. They take on many different roles, but first and foremost they are the instructors, the link between the engineer and the user. For the general public, they transform technical documentation into a language that is structured, clear, precise, and, above all, intelligible to the target audience. But what are the other facets and responsibilities that qualify them as technical communicators?

From word processing to design, from website development to information architecture, technical communicators must be able to handle it all. But how transversal is a technical communicator? Do they take on the job of another profession? Or from other departments? What are the limits of technical communicators and the challenges they may face in their career? How diverse are the tools that a technical communicator must master to help in the design of product documentation? This leads us to the central inquiry of our research: to what extent does the transversality of a technical communicator impact the evolution of the job?

Through the lens of transversality, we aim to provide valuable insights on the advancement of technical communication practices and help professionals thrive. We will also take a look at technical communication as a profession, from its origins to its future, and finish off with some end thoughts about the current professional landscape based on our survey.

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What Inhibits or Enhances Creativity in Technical Communication?

Adeline POUMAROUX, Marina LAY, Solène CAUDRON, Néda EL HADJ-MIMOUNE

Paris Cité University, July 2022

Abstract

When we say someone is creative, we usually refer to their artistic skills. But is that really the only way people can be creative? What about creativity in the workplace? We took an interest in creativity in technical communication, and particularly if there is a discrepancy between how technical writers and the rest of technical communicators perceive their own creativity in the workplace. This paper is based on a survey of 55 technical communicators with various roles within the industry, who were asked about their scope for creativity at work, their personal approach to it, as well as its impact in building their career.
The results allowed us to determine how technical communicators define creativity, if they view themselves as creative and the tools they use at work. Our study suggests that there is a strong link between the feelings of creativity and flexibility. Associating creativity with innovation, the diversification of missions and tools at work inspire professionals to develop new solutions and skills.

Read the full article in PDF: What Inhibits or Enhances Creativity in Technical Communication

Information Processing and Technical Writing: The Importance of Optimizing Users’ Working Memory

Mélanie PIERRE, Amélie CARON, Coline MAGNIER, Margaux ZANINI

Paris Diderot University, July 15, 2021

Abstract

The simpler the better, you have probably heard this sentence many times. It is  particularly true in technical writing. It has been proven that having more than seven chunks  of information or using useless information in a technical document can affect users working memory as well as an unstructured document. However, there is little research on the nature of the link between working memory and technical writing.
Our article examines the correlation between cognitive psychology and technical writing and more especially the importance of optimizing the user’s working memory when writing technical documents. To understand the impact of an altered procedure on the realization of a task, we conducted an experiment which consisted of a comparison between two drawing procedures: one which aimed at optimizing working memory and the other which aimed at altering it. Participants shared their drawings and told us the difficulties they faced for eachof the procedures.

Our research and the analysis of the conducted experiment allowed us to draw the conclusion that technical writers should always consider their user’s working memory to ensure that the instructions are easy to follow for every age and capacity range. The structure and content of documentations can help users to group information together and thus help improve their working memory while reading instructions.

Read the full article in PDF: Information processing and technical writing

Why do technical writers have to justify their existence?

Louise AGERON, Tanguy CACHIN, Marina FERREOL

Paris Diderot, July 15th, 2019

Abstract

With the way new technologies are evolving nowadays, technical writers appear to play an important role. Their mission is to help users understand and use a new product or software. They create content that is easy to understand to all and adapt their discourses depending on whom they are addressing their message. We noticed that technical writers, however, still struggled to justify and explain their existence. We wondered whether the profession was widely known, and realized that it was not. We then retracted a brief overview of the profession and realized that being a technical writer had many definitions to it, and the job associated with the terms were broad and different, which reinforces the identity and existence crisis. We also wondered how technical writers were seen by their colleagues, and we found out that they were not seen as a priority by many, probably because of the influence of the old workflow system where technical writers were placed last.

Read the full article in PDF: Why do technical writers have to justify their existence?

What makes or breaks a user-centric approach from a UX and technical writing perspective?

Perrine Palfray, Isabelle De Abreu Teixeira

Université de Paris, July 2020

Abstract

The term ‘user-centric approach’ steadily gained momentum over the last two decades, to become a popular professional standard in the digitized industries.

The simplest way to define user-centric is in contrast with a product-centric approach: the focus of the technical content is shifted from the product and what it can do, to the user and what they want to do.

The end goal is to make technical content more digestible for users, making them feel that the content is tailored to their individual needs.

Upon closer investigation, it becomes clear that user-centric technical content and the definition given to this approach to content creation varies greatly due to several environmental and individual factors.

What seems to have become an industry standard, is an umbrella term that encompasses a wide range of practices that are sometimes difficult to pinpoint with precision and accuracy.

What does this approach actually mean to professionals? What are the facilitating and the challenging factors that come with this new way of thinking technical content creation?

Read the full article in PDF: What makes or breaks a user-centric approach from a UX and technical writing perspective?

What are the Stakes and Difficulties of Working with Experts?

Olympe Lebon, Althéa Geneix, Johan Lefebvre

Paris Diderot University, September 15th 2020

Abstract

A technical writer has a key role within a company. He works with people with various functions. He’s asking developers for advice and feedback to build the user guide of their product. He’s connected and dealing with every part of the team: developers, testers, managers, product experts, etc. to produce documentation that is as clear as possible for the user, and depending on the product, the user’s life can depend on his work. Most of the time, this interaction is a very rich and fulfilling experience.
But how to find the right place between the different services of a company? Communicating with developers is not always easy: they often don’t have time to spend with a technical writer. Receiving feedback from testers can be troublesome, sometimes you don’t get information unless asking clearly for it. Many uninformed people think that being a technical writer is just writing sentences and that anyone can do it. It happens sometimes that even people in their own team don’t recognize the work and the importance of the technical writer. This article explores the difficulties a technical writer can encounter when working with experts.

Read the full article in PDF: What are the Stakes and Difficulties of Working with Experts?