Experts Ignite, Indus brings you experts in the field of technical writing and related industries who bring new perspectives to our careers and share their experiences. In our first of this year’s series, we present Naveen D Cruz, Senior Technical Writer with Radisys, who is a man of few words but with strong writing skills . Over the years Naveen has been a pivotal volunteer for STC India chapter and has served the chapter as President, Vice President, Treasurer and Bangalore City Representative. Calm and composed, Naveen sits with us over a cup of coffee to answer a few questions. You can reach Naveen here.
Could you share your experiences about your first technical writing job?
I was from copy writing background and could cope up easily with instructions and procedural writing due to my Degree in Computer Science and nuances from the writing world. I was asked to do a help file in Robohelp 2000. Authoring Tools were new to me, but the interest to learn and deliver enthused me all the time.Keeping your mind like a child is the key. You will not worry about anything, but the one thing you want to achieve. My peers helped me to start my first project with the basics and refinements of Technical Writing and then on there is no looking back. Interacting with engineers and exchanging information was a different experience, but getting their time was a pain. The work got me imbibed to the extent that I would come home to sleep and change my clothes. I still do this when some projects keep me busy or the delivery date is absurd. All my life in Technical Writing, have not missed the doc delivery date and am proud of it. Commitment and Diligence will take you a long way. Be loyal to your job.
How can technical writers make a transition from advertising to technical writing role?
Copywriters in advertising are creative and spice up the content that is assigned to them. Technical writers on the other hand need to be clear, concise, and to the point with the content to be delivered. As writing is the common base for both industries, the basics and nuances can be worked out by the copywriters to transition into a technical writer. There are many references available on the Internet, read through them, take some tests, or do a certification in technical writing. Nowadays, a lot of companies prefer a certification in technical writing as mandatory. Also, make sure you are aware of the latest happenings in the IT world, specifically in the domain you are interested to start your career as technical writer.
BROWNIE: The big secret in technical writing is that most of the harder documents aren’t written by the technical writers at all. In fact, many “technical writers” never do any writing at all. Instead, the drafts are written by engineers or marketers. The technical writers perform editorial functions and provide publications services — copy-editing, layout, review management, and so on.
Could you share any experiences of your technical writing projects?
The technical writer actually serves two masters — the technical team and the audience for the documentation. Ignorance of technology or audience is never an asset for a technical writer.
- Planning can help provide a feasible approach to delivering technical documentation in support of the project.
- Involving yourself in design sessions to gain knowledge to learn the system.
- Properly framed questions can get people thinking and talking for the betterment of the project.
- Including technical documentation as part of the overall quality assurance plan.
- Having other project team members do a peer review of the technical documentation.
- Using an iterative documentation development process (recommended), where the documentation is written in draft releases just as the software release.
- BEWARE: It’s easy to jump down on a typo or flaw in a technical writer’s document.
What are the future trends in technical communication? Will there be any dynamic change in the way product documentation is made accessible to customers?
The traditional deliverables – End-user assistance documents, Technical documents, and Marketing communication – are getting replaced with more sophisticated easy-to-use medium like the Mobile, Videos, Social Network, Cloud Computing, Wiki’s and Blogs. In short, more and more information is moving to the Web. This offers countless opportunities for a technical writer to design and develop future generations of online help systems. In the long term, the Web will become the greatest technical writing library imaginable.
The University of Washington recently re-named their degree in Technical Communication which they are now calling “Human Centered Design and Engineering” to reflect the changing nature of Technical Communication.
The following lines say it all…
- Emotional experience: Building trust & confidence, encouraging community; communicating in a more personal way.
- Collaboration: Working with lots of different people on content; origination is not just with Technical Writing.
- Mobile delivery: Creating adaptive and responsive content that adjusts to mobile devices (not just style, but also navigation).
- Content strategy: Following a strategy for all phases of your content’s lifecycle; planning, controlling, maintaining, removing content in alignment with business goals.
- Agile pace: Keeping up publishing velocity to match information needs and software releases.
How did you come across STC India? You have been a president of the STC India Chapter? share your experiences with us?
A long time ago, I was part of the Technical Writer’s Meetup Group in Bangalore. We used to meet in St. Marks Hotel once a month, share our experiences, knowledge and a little bit of networking. Later, I used to attend STC learning sessions conducted by Rajdeep Gupta. Was like the most of you, attend for free or sometimes a nominal fee and that’s it. The STC membership was costing a lot that time compared to the USD 60 now. Got involved in the activities and was nominated as Bangalore City Rep and became an STC member. Proved my mettle and was nominated as VP in the STC admin council. Then became President, Immediate Past President and now serving as Treasurer.