I saw a recent job posting for a Documentation Artist on Authentic Jobs and my interest was immediately piqued. What is a Documentation Artist you ask? I asked the same question and after reading an entertaining job description it became clear that this was a position for a Technical Writer to write technical documentation for the lister's product Temboo.
What caught my attention past the title of the position was the way in which the position listing was crafted. The tone is such that it conveys the understanding of good technical writing and how important it really can be.
You could argue that your product should just be good enough that documentation isn't required. That is certainly true for an application like Draw Something, but there are a lot of situations and a lot of products where documentation is an absolute requirement. Some products or services essentially depend upon their technical documentation. Temboo is a good example. It's a different product by almost everyone's standards that deals with some pretty technical stuff. Documentation is crucial to at a minimum give people a kick down the right direction.
Writing the how-to step-by-step guide for anything is a pretty straightforward task. Just start with step one and write what you do until the task has been completed. The thing is, we've all had to wade through some impossible to understand, unbearably dry documentation to only end up exactly where we started. It's frustrating and will definitely turn people off from using your product or service. So maybe it really isn't that easy. Maybe there is actually an art to writing technical documentation.
Technical documentation has a reputation for being flat out challenging to get through. That doesn't need to be the case and it shouldn't be this way. No matter the subject why can't reading through your documentation be at least mildly entertaining? The subject nature of a lot of the things technical writers write about are inherently dry, but I think there still can be things done to improve the experience of using the documentation. And a side benefit from some delightfully useful documentation is that you enable your customers to better use your product. When people are able to easily take full advantage of your product or service and have actually enjoyed learning about it you've created some advocates of your product. It may seem like time wasted when you'd rather be concentrating on building your product, but if people aren't able to take full advantage of it you're missing out on a lot potential business.
It's cool to see a company make such a big deal about a role that in a lot of situations either gets totally overlooked or at a minimum ends up getting pushed aside. Technical writing is tricky and the real great writers are able to communicate complicated things in delightful ways to truly enable end-users. This is most certainly an art and deserves to be thought of in that light.
Here's to the Documentation Artists.