What Technical Writing Is and Isn’t

By The Good Words Team
March 4, 2022

If we were to choose two words to sum up what technical writing is, without a doubt we’d choose these:

Underrated and Misunderstood

With many organizations facing the pressures of an increasingly complex business environment, technical documentation is often pushed to the bottom of the agenda—or ignored altogether.

Yet this type of communication is the lynchpin of delivering great customer experience. In fact, there’s often a direct correlation between producing high-quality technical documentation and customer satisfaction, engagement, retention. Good documentation even provides the potential for creating cross-selling opportunities.

Long story short: Technical documentation can improve your bottom line.

With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at what technical writing is, and what it most definitely is not.

What Is Technical Writing?

Technical writing in your organization may take many forms, from the training and development documents that you disseminate to your sales and customer support teams, to the user guides and in-app user assistance your customers rely on after purchasing your products or services.

No matter what form it takes in your organization, there are certain boxes that it needs to check to be truly effective.

Technical writing and documentation must be clear, concise, and accurate. It should be written in such a way that the target audience will find it easy-to-understand and actionable. It makes even the most complex of concepts accessible for the people who’ll benefit from the information.

Why Is Technical Writing So Important?

When your documentation checks those boxes:

  • Your internal teams understand your product or service so well that they find it far easier to highlight its applications and benefits to potential customers.

  • Your customer support team can confidently help your existing customers troubleshoot (or upgrade) when required.

  • Your customers will be able to make full use of their purchase, will continue to buy from you, and may be so impressed they recommend your products to others in their network, or leave you rave reviews.
  • Your customers will be able to help themselves—finding solutions to their problems in your help system and documentation as opposed to picking up the phone and racking up expensive support calls with customer service.

Now that the underrated part is taken care of, let’s have a look at why technical writing is often misunderstood.

What Technical Writing Isn’t (and Why It Matters)

Technical writing is not the same as marketing.

Because technical documentation is frequently disseminated to sales and marketing channels, there’s a tendency to farm its creation out to marketing departments.

But not all writers undertake the same training, have the same experience, or share the same technical knowledge. Entrusting your technical writing to the writers that create your content marketing or other marketing materials can backfire.

The goals of marketing writing and technical writing are very different. Understanding complex technological concepts and translating them into language that can be understood by any audience requires specialist skills and knowledge that many marketing writers lack.

And, of course, having your marketing personnel channel their time and efforts into technical writing isn’t the most efficient use of a valuable revenue-generating department.

Great Technical Writing Requires More Than Just Technical Knowledge

Many organizations rely on their engineers and product developers to create their technical documentation. After all, who knows your products and services better than the people who developed them in the first place?

But while your engineers certainly have the technical knowledge, they may lack the skills to deliver that knowledge in a way that’s accessible to those without extensive training.

And, much like the folks in the marketing department, engineers and product developers are vital revenue-creating employees — it just doesn’t make financial sense for them to dilute their time by doing work that doesn’t align with their skill set.

With technical documentation playing such a vital role in everything from your customer experience strategy to your sales and marketing processes, it’s definitely worth enlisting the help of those who have the specialty writing skills to do justice to your product and keep your customer satisfaction ratings high.

Get in touch now to find out what our team of experienced technical writers can do for you.