What do Technical Writers do? (Also, what is Technical Writing?)



Today we are going to talk about the type
of documents that technical writers create in the tech industry. But before we get into that, we need to understand
what is technical writing. Technical Writing is a part of a bigger
field called Technical Communication. And Technical Communication
is the practice of communicating technically complex information to your audience. The keywords here are: information and audience. Okay, now that we have this definition,
let's try to apply it to the work that technical writers do. In my experience, technical writers create
three types of documents in the tech industry: UI-based docs, Developer docs, and Deployment docs. Let me explain what they mean. Let's take an example: YouTube. YouTube is a software service that allows you
to host and stream videos. You are watching this video on YouTube, which
makes you a YouTube user. And as a user, you interact with the YouTube
UI, that is the user interface to watch, play, like, and share videos, manage your playlists, manage your account, you know the usual YouTube stuff. Now the developers of YouTube need
a way to convey this information to their users So the tech writers at YouTube wrote documents
to help the users navigate the UI. These docs are what I call UI-based docs. Now let's say you want to create your own YouTube
channel and upload videos to YouTube. In that case, you are still a user of the UI, but you are a slightly advanced user. You need documents to help you understand and navigate the advanced UI and figure out how to upload videos. What type of videos can you upload How to follow the YouTube guidelines, and stuff like that. So the documents written to help you create your own channel and upload videos can also be categorized as UI-based docs. Now let's take it a step further. Suppose you want to create a YouTube app. In that case, you need more tools
than just the UI. You need YouTube APIs. Which help you send requests to YouTube, get data from YouTube basically integrate your app with YouTube. The documents written to help you figure out how to integrate your app with YouTube are called Developer Docs. API documentation is a subset of Developer
Docs. Okay, suppose that you have created
an awesome YouTube app You are ready to launch it, which probably
means you need to host it on a cloud platform. Let’s say the cloud platform you chose is
DigitalOcean. In that case, you are dealing with two software products: You are dealing with YouTube
and you are dealing with DigitalOcean. Now you need to figure out a way how to make your app work with both of these software products. For instance, say you want to manage network bandwidth for your users. You need to figure out the optimal bandwidth that YouTube recommends for its video streaming service And the optimal bandwidth that DigitalOcean supports. And then you need to figure those things out and make them match. And you need to refer to the documentation of both YouTube and DigitalOcean to figure that out. The docs written to help you make these decisions and figure out the deployment process are what I call Deployment docs. To recap, technical writers in the software industry work on three types of documents: UI-based docs, Developer docs, and Deployment docs As a tech writer, you might end up working on
only one of these docs, or all of them. For example, I work on all three types of
documents at work: I work on the documentation of our distributed SQL database I create docs to help our users navigate the Admin UI (which are the UI-based docs). I also work on docs to help our users use our SQL APIs to build apps (which are API docs or Developer docs) And I also work on docs to help our users about deploy and secure the apps on cloud platforms (which are Deployment docs). So that’s what I do at work – I help our users use our awesome product to create even more awesome products. Best job in the world!

15 thoughts on “What do Technical Writers do? (Also, what is Technical Writing?)

  1. Hi
    Amruta Thank you for this great video,
    I want to get into technical writing so any suggestion on how I can contribute docs to an open source project ?
    Like any particular website thats available?( like GitHub maybe)

  2. Finally! I found a woman of color technical writer on YouTube! I’ve been a tech writer for 6 years and I love it!

  3. Hi Amruta, the video is very informative. I am a mechanical engineer working in heavy engineering firm and interested to start as a technical writer in the same industry. Can you throw some light on this section ?

  4. I have a major in Mathematics and a Minor in Computer Science with a background in education and IT support. I am currently working as a recruiter, but I would like to transition into technical writing. Does anyone have any helpful guidelines or books I can read to find an entry-level position?

  5. Well done. Thanks for creating this video. I'll be sharing with my tech comm students to help them understand our profession!

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