Technical writer or technical communicator prepares instruction manuals for users. So they know more about the item they purchased. The tech writer teaches the readers how to use the product properly and safely. If a writer fails to let the readers know everything they have to know about how the product works? This may result to customer dissatisfaction.
Provide effective product documentation to readers. A technical writer should know how to make a well-written and useful instruction manual.
How should a technical writer write?
One disgruntled customer shared his experience about a bad technical writing. He purchased and put in a reverse osmosis water filter. The manual instructed him to fill and then empty the tank. The instructions, according to him, used the term “dump.” The technical writer should have used a different term for that. That’s since dumping would have caused damage to the system.
The filter can hold about 100 gallons per day. So the user projected the initial fill of a 4.5 gallon tank to take less than an hour. But after an hour, the tank was still filling. So, he called technical support. He was informed that it usually takes two hours for the tank to fill.
A good technical writer should have predicted that incident. The user documentation should contain the information. For instance, “You have to wait two hours for the tank to fill.” But the writer fails at that one. Hence, the user had to call technical support.
Another example is about a user’s cable/DSL router. The product documentation fails to inform the user how long the software update would take to function after downloading the file.
The technical writer again failed to inform through his writing. He didn’t say what a user should expect in this product. A simple phrase would make a displeased user calm again. For instance, “wait for five minutes for software update to be completed,”
Some users rely on progress indicators. However, they usually are not enough to make the program work. A technical writer should think about making progress indicators focusing on the time of operation. Not on the number of files. Also, a writer should make progress indicators reflect its connection with the associated program.
As a technical writer, “telling the user what to expect” has been a common responsibility. However, other writers still cannot do it properly. A good tech writer knows that the telling the user what to expect is related to the indicators and performance of the product.
For example, in the case of a smart battery charger. The light illuminates when a battery is charging. The light goes off when charging is done. One user is confused when the light went off. He thought that the battery was fully charged. It turns out that the product malfunctioned. The battery did not charge at all. Which part of the instruction manual would be beneficial to him?
A good technical writer must have anticipated that things like this normally happen. And as a writer, he must have written something about things to do to situations like that. The tech writer of the instruction manual should have responsibly added all problems that the user might encounter with the product. The developers of the product should provide all necessary explanations. Things a technical writer should know of regarding the product. The manual should be written clearly. Terms used should be easily understood by users.
Being a tech writer is not an easy job. It requires a lot of anticipation aside from providing simple product description. A technical writer must effectively tell the user how the product functions. Must include what the product indicators mean. Leaving readers confused and dissatisfied is an indication of failed instruction manual due to a bad writer. On the other hand, a good technical writer generates more company sales. He also reduces customer’s reliance on technical support.