Technical Writers in the Touch World

Microsoft is launching Windows 8 this fall, and touch, one of the newer ways of interacting with devices, will be a first class citizen at par with keyboard and mouse. The Apple iPad® has already made a splash and people are elated. Corporates are piloting touchscreen devices, and many IT professionals – from UI designers to CEOs, have already started carrying iPads instead of regular laptops. Where has this change left us- the technical writers? In this technologically ever-changing world of touch, how do technical writers adapt and stay relevant?

As the industry changes, so do job roles and skills. We are living in a world that is constantly evolving. Technical writers need to equip themselves for the touch world. The future of the technical writers is evolving into two categories. Writers producing documentation for enterprise products would fall into one category. The second category nests writers from the non-enterprise world.  These writers (non-enterprise) are more accustomed to the Instructional Design paradigm; for example, a writer who develops content for the touch-based apps.

The non-enterprise writers would work on a lot of short-term projects and need to learn more skills than core writing. These writers would contribute to preparing tutorials, videos, and building community for the product. One such example is Photoshop Touch. Photoshop Touch has a product tutorial that explains the step-by-step usage of the product.

PhotoShop Touch

PhotoShop Touch Tutorials

The enterprise technical writers would still be closer to the traditional technical writer paradigm, and these writers would acquire in-depth domain knowledge. These writers may become super-users of the product and can be the voice of the customers in a company. Subject matter expertise and customer-facing experience could enable enterprise writers to suggest new features for a product.

Change is here, in the form of touch apps; probably a good time to pick a tablet and ponder over the change.


 

5 Responses to Technical Writers in the Touch World

  1. Anthony says:

    It will be interesting to see what Microsoft can bring with windows 8. I’m still waiting for a new iMac to come out so I might be tempted away with a Windows 8 machine for development.

    We’ll see.

    • khsingh says:

      Anthony, I have windows 8 release preview on one of my machines and it looks good. Let’s see, what changes the final release brings in.

  2. Qazi says:

    I personally feel, there will be not much change for a technical writer and they will be using CLICK and TAP for any button operation using windows 8, using the touch and normal interface. And technical writers would get accustomed soon to do documentation for Winsows 8. The worst part is what will happen to our CRT and LCD monitors, that needs to be replaced with the touch screens. Today, I installed a complete working build of Windows 8 on my laptop and was playing around with it. The good thing is Windows 8 supports both touch as well as mouse and external input devices such as keyboard etc. The writer is a Technical Writer.

  3. Qazi says:

    I personally feel, there will be not much change for a technical writer and they will be using CLICK and TAP for any button operation using windows 8, using the touch and normal interface. And technical writers would get accustomed soon to do documentation for Windows 8. The worst part is what will happen to our CRT and LCD monitors, that needs to be replaced with the touch screens. Today, I installed a complete working build of Windows 8 on my laptop and was playing around with it. The good thing is Windows 8 supports both touch as well as mouse and external input devices such as keyboard etc. The writer is a Technical Writer.

    • khsingh says:

      I agree, as long as we are talking about documenting for the software that runs in the desktop mode. The Modern/Metro UI/iPad apps demand much more. The typical non-interactive documentation is not going to be enough. For complex apps like Photoshop touch, it makes sense to provide in-app tutorials, engaging and interactive content instead of making users read step-by-step instructions. People love to see and interact to learn the stuff, instead of just read the instructions. Technical writers have an important opportunity now.
      About CRTs and LCDs phasing out, it is not the case in my opinion. Mutitouch Touchpad/mouse with the gesture support are the magical device here. Writers (Technical writers) would get to retain there OLD monitors and document touch experiences using multi-touch gesture enabled trackpad/mouse.