What is your job title?

In the past I’ve held the following positions: Technical Administrator Technical Writer Documentation Specialist Technical Communications Manager Publications Team Leader The first three have similarities as they were all grounded in the production of technical documentation. The latter two are essentially the same thing, leading a team of technical writers producing technical information. None of the job titles I had limited me, by my thinking, in what I could and couldn’t do. My current job title, as confirmed on my new business cards which handily arrived just AFTER I’d been to TCUK12, is Product Information Manager. I didn’t choose this but, whilst talking through my role and responsibilities recently, I realised it’s pretty accurate. The team I’m part of does …

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5 years time

Where do you want to be in 5 years time? Hands up everyone who has been asked that in an interview at some point (now quick, put your hand back down or your colleagues will start to stare..). Having been in my current job for just over 3.5 years, I thought it would be interesting to look back at where I started and ahead to where I want to be, and it was at that point I realised I have a problem (well, I have many, but I’m not discussing those here, thank you very much). The thing is, I’m not entirely sure where I want to be in 5 years time, all I know is that I don’t want …

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Why I am a Technical Writer

Having been in a bit of a lull, I recently asked those who follow me on Twitter what I should blog about. This post is in response to a suggestion from Peter Anghelides who replied: “Blog about why you became a technical author?” Which is a good a topic as any as, like many people in this industry, I certainly didn’t set out to be a Technical Writer, far from it. For me Technical Writing combines two of my early interests, words and technology. Growing up I read a lot, and was lucky enough that my Dad used to bring a computer home at the weekend. BBC (Acorn) Micro, and later the first Mac Plus. I’ll happily admit to crafting …

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Jack of all trades Pt. 2

My name is Gordon McLean, I am a Technical Communicator* and I am proud to be a jack of all trades. I recall once being asked to breakdown all the skills required to be a Technical Writer, and then to provide a list of daily work tasks. The list of skills was to be used as part of a skills/training matrix, and the work tasks were to be mapped to a timesheet system. At first I concentrated solely on the Technical Writers role, but even then you need to wear a number of hats; researcher, analyst, information architect, publisher, indexer, illustrator, proof-reader, editor… ohh and writer. All of those are unique job roles in some places yet, as a Technical …

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Technical Writing Evolved

The following is largely focussed on the software industry as that is where my experience lies. I’ve been an on/off member of the TechWR mailing list for many years now. I dip in and out of threads depending on my current work and knowledge levels. The membership of the list is fairly wide-ranging, with people involved in all sorts of technical communication activites across many different industries. This gives any discussions around our profession and interesting slant as, by and large, the constituent parts of what it means to be a technical writer, and the daily activities involved, are somewhat tied to the industry in which they work. My experience is largely in the software world, but many of the …

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User-focussed Design Works!

Proof, if more proof were needed that keeping the user in mind when designing a product, document or website really does work. Renewing a support contract with a client, I was asking them if the website had been beneficial and if there was anything about it that had worked well. The response wasn’t quite what I’d expected, so I can’t take full credit for this, but it’s worth bearing in mind. Amongst various comments, one stuck out: “… and a lot of people have commented on the fact the photos aren’t ‘glossed up’, you get a real sense of the workmanship that way” For example, if you look at this photo page you can see that the photos used were …

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And so, it begins

Please excuse the dust, and mind your feet, I’m still tidying up. I was always told you should finish a website before launching it but, in the days of instant gratification that advice seems somewhat stilted and old-fashioned. So here it is, yes, it’s another blog. I’ve been blogging for many years now but this is my first attempt at writing a professional blog. To make it a little bit easier on myself I’ve chosen an area in which I’m fairly well-versed – Technical Communications. I have been a Technical Writer/Author/Communicator (I’ll cover that issue another day) for over 10 years and have worked in a variety of different environments, for a variety of different companies, with different cultures and …

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