If you are working with technical content writers, then it is worth investing some time to figure out exactly what your content creation process needs to look like. It is also useful to think how to work best with your writers when dealing with software topics.
But, surely technical writing is just like any other type of written content? Well, in principle yes, but the process can often bring up some unexpected challenges.
How Should You Use a Technical Content Writer?
You might think this is a strange question. Most people who have some knowledge of written content creation see the process from the outside as fairly simple. Usually, you find a writer with expertise in your niche, or potentially a current member of staff, then you ask them to write an expert article on your chosen topic. After some fact checking and a copy-edit, you are ready to post to your blog, right?
This is the most common process across most industries. However, if you are trying to create technical content based on software topics then you need to handle the process with a few more steps and a wider range of options. “The writer just writes” doesn’t really do a good technical writer justice. We can explain exactly why...
Why Technical Content Is a Little Different
A more significant point that separates software topics from most others, is that you often need to use a code example. Because of this, you can’t just expect that someone who has done the correct research can automatically create a solid example for your audience. The point is that technical content writers often have different roles in the overall process. At Wizard on Demand, we regularly bring in topic experts to support our regular team who are practiced in learning about technologies and explaining them in a clear and stimulating way. If you try to force these different tasks on a single person, then you may end up compromising the quality of the output as well as the energy of your team.
Let’s take a look at how the process is broken down.
How the Team Process Works at Wizard on Demand
This overview shows a series of steps that are used to create the best content possible. Every step of this process involves a technical content writer, but each role is slightly different. We have found that understanding the strengths of each writer and aligning them with their strengths makes for happier writers and also makes for more valuable content. Let’s dig a little deeper into each one.
Creating The Topic And Working Title
So we start with topic creation and a working title. This is a creative process where the client works with team members to create a solid starting point. If you’re a writer, then this process can be a great learning experience. Often, as writers we don’t instantly understand how the process feels for a client. The point of view of a writer and the goals of the client are not always obvious to each other. Understanding the client’s goals and aligning the path here can really save time later on in the process. If you can pair up a client and a writer directly, then you get a much more instinctive and deeper collaboration. You’d be amazed at how much more enjoyable the experience is when it feels like a team effort rather than a solo writing task.
Creating A Code Example
This step can be a lot of fun! We have access to industry experts who are available to help us to create in-depth code examples and to educate our technical writers on individual topics. This is a great opportunity for the writer to dig deep into a topic and gain confidence before creating the article. We find that learning-hungry writers thrive in this part of the process and we help them grow in the role for it if that’s their calling.
We find that being involved in creating the code example as the writer and researcher brings genuine depth to the topic and this enhances the value of the writing considerably. If you are technical yourself, then you have some experience of how doing something creates depth of knowledge that study simply cannot reach. If you are not technical, then it is fair to say that writing about the concept of driving a car versus writing about the actual driving of a car are worlds apart.
Creating The First Technical Draft
So this is the part that most people think of when they think about technical writing. This is where the technical writer cooks up the main meal of magic. The topic is now agreed and all that detailed research we discussed earlier comes pouring out in an energetic wave of words and inspiration. It has a sharp and clear example. The goals are clear and we’re on the path. We have a liftoff!
The Technical Review Section
Once the writer is happy that the draft is completed, the draft needs a peer review. This is where the piece is handed over to another technical writer to be checked for accuracy across a range of criteria. It is crucial that a second technical writer completes this part, as both the technical details and the clarity of the content need to be verified in order for the work to move onto the next stage. We haven’t had a single case in the years of the company existing where the second pair of eyes didn’t point out an issue or suggest an improvement. An external perspective always adds value.
It is not uncommon that good writing gets passed back and forth a few times in order for the two writers to be sure that things are clear on the technical aspects and also any editing issues relating to style guides, as well as tone and voice.
Who Is Doing What In Each Box?
This is the most common question we are asked by new team members and clients. Technical writers roles are adapted for each of the following steps:
- Topic Ideation - Main writer, topic expert, account manager, client
- Research process - Main writer
- Code Example creation - Main writer / topic expert
- Outline creation - Main writer
- Draft creation - Main writer
- Peer review - Reviewer (could be the topic expert or an additional writer)
- Editing - Technical editor
What is important to understand about this process, is that every article has a team of at least two technical writers involved for these steps. The minimum would involve a single writer carrying out all the above steps, but there would be a second writer checking in after the creation of the outline and peer reviewing the article.
The only way to guarantee the highest quality of content is to have at least one extra pair of eyes alert to checking and questioning facts and points, as well as checking for cohesion and understanding. This is what we consider part of our writing process. This is in addition to proofreading and editing, which is an extra process in itself.
So What’s The Takeaway?
It’s short and simple - The technical writing process is more complicated than most people think. Allow your writers to segment it and treat each part separately. If you do, then you’ll have happier writers and higher quality content.
Content production is one of the four pillars of content marketing that we love helping B2B software companies get in order, alongside understanding customer pain points, distilling those pain points into actionable topics to cover, as well as measurement and analytics.
If you are looking to get exposure for your software product through publishing technical content and you want some guidance, then drop us an email. We want to share our ongoing progress with you and fill the world with content that shines!