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.
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.