Inspired by technical communication

What are the most inspiring, exciting areas of technical communication? I think this is a cool topic to explore. I’m hoping we have many different ideas and perspectives. Even better, I’m hoping that each of us thinks the area we’re personally working in is the most inspiring of all!

Why am I asking this question right now? Well, I do think it’s a very cool topic that will give us insight into the depth and breadth of our field. Also, I’m thinking of incorporating this topic into an upcoming presentation. If you’d like to add some thoughts via comments on this post, I’ll credit you with anything that I mention in the presentation.

To get the ball rolling, I’ll say that API technical writing is the best. 🙂 It’s no secret that I love my role and talk about it non stop. Being so deeply immersed in APIs, I have the opportunity to play with them myself, build stuff with them, and show other people how they work. It’s a demanding, constantly challenging role – but that’s the way I like it.

It comes down to this:

APIs are the communication channel of the online world.
Developers need help hooking their apps up to someone else’s API.
Technical writers who can give that help are in a very good position.

Other inspiring or even revolutionary tech comm?

There are other areas of tech comm that seem equally appealing, at least from afar. How about documenting the software used by 3D animation specialists, or tools used by artists, or the games industry, or smart hardware, or the medical industry?

Perhaps there are tech writers working in areas that are revolutionary as well as inspiring. Here’s a challenge: top my description of API tech writing if you can. 🙂

An inspiring mushroom

I came across this Veiled Lady Mushroom while walking in the bush near Sydney, Australia:

Inspiring mushroom

About Sarah Maddox

Technical writer, author and blogger in Sydney

Posted on 11 July 2015, in technical writing and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. plainsimplelanguage

    I love creating tutorial videos for new and inexperienced users. In our go-go-go world these 2 to 5 minute videos show folks how to get up and running quickly. Professionally, it is a unique means of technical communication. I write scripts including stage cues that I follow when recording the videos. Then I edit them and add closed captions. It’s a great experience.

  2. I see technical writing integrating with storytelling soon! Users looking for instructions for a “How To’ can see a video where personas setup the context, explain the procedure, with customary notes and caution, and pointers for next step.

    Yes there will be concerns of source code repository and single-sourcing challenges particularly for localization but many organizations are already struggling with these issues because of their inefficient processes and wrong priorities. Knowledgebase in storytelling form will at least help the users far better, and it is a step towards considering tech comm content as marketing content (as Scott Abel often says) which means strategy, metrics, voice, and measurable goals for planning tech comm content!

  3. Designing the words on the screen.. UI text. Going beyond “how can I make this error message useful” to working with product designers and engineers to help make a great user experience.

    • Hallo Diana

      I think you’ve hit the nail on the head with this comment. More and more, technical writers are becoming involved with the design of the product and giving valuable insight into the UX. In the area of API tech writing this happens too. It’s exciting and rewarding to give input into the design of an API, helping ensure that the product will be understandable, usable and useful to the developers who’ll build apps using that API.


    • Me too – microcopy and embedded help are such an interesting challenge, and so satisfying when you do it well.

      It’s great when you find a part of a UI that’s really tricky to explain, and instead of spending hours trying to find a way to explain it, you work out how make the UI easy to understand instead.

  4. Hallo all

    It’s becoming apparent, from comments on this post and in various responses via email and social media, that what technical writers really, deeply enjoy about our role is this: finding out how to do something tricky, and then make it easier for others to understand.

    That’s so awesome. 🙂 It’s the essence of our role, and it’s what many of us enjoy most about our role.


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