It’s really nice that more and more people are familiar with what technical writing actually means (NO, MOM, I’M NOT TRANSLATING!!) and that the term ceases to be so obscure. Yup, nothing worse than having to explain what you actually do at work every single time as a simple “I’m a technical writer” reply invites a blank void-like stare. And yes, I know there are actually hundreds of worse things but I really wanted to write that.

But awareness is one thing. How the role of technical writers evolved throughout the years is yet another.

In the beginning was the vacuum cleaner

When you think of manuals, I bet the first thing that comes to your mind is a traditional printed guide. Well, that’s pretty understandable as these are the roots of our profession (some even claim that tech writing started with Aristotle himself!). Mobile phones, refrigerators, coffee machines – they all needed a guide. Some more detailed, some rudimentary – but a guide nonetheless. I even think that most of you might start explaining the concept of tech writing to a layman with similar examples. I know I would.

But we’ve come a long way. And nowadays technical writing is much more than that.

Origins of tech writing

Still a writer?

Not so sure about that. I mean, yes, of course, I’m still writing, I’m still creating content. But the role of a tech writer has evolved significantly and entails sooo much more now. Also demands so much more.

Forget about traditional text editors. Present-day tech writers specialize in advanced authoring tools and produce smart content for cutting-edge mobile platforms. They dabble in code, modify CSS and create layout templates. They document APIs. They deal with graphics. You catch my drift.

Technical writing, IT

Remember about UX

But there’s yet another novelty in the daily tech comm chores. Its name is UX. Although still not so common, in many companies designing user experience and producing technical content go hand in hand – and this is how it should be. UX is a pretty complex subject, ranging way beyond creating a neat interface for your app. All the big players seem to be well aware of the fact. Let’s just hope that at some point involving tech writers in the UX design process becomes an obvious necessity.

Technical writing, UX

And what do you think about the way technical writing evolved?