Technical writing is poised to see rapid growth in the near future. As companies strive to get more information across to employees, clients, governments and other businesses, they need to focus on writing that is precise, understandable, and shareable. There are a number of key areas on which technical writers must focus to ensure they’re delivering the best content possible. We’ve listed some of the growing trends in technical writing, which show no signs whatsoever of slowing down.
More Mobile-friendly Content
Mobile phone usage stands at around 90% in developed countries and is on the rise in developing nations. In 2020, India had the world’s second-largest internet population with over 749 million users. Out of these, 744 million used their mobile phones to access the internet. This means that your content is most likely going to be read on a small screen, and it should change the way you present your content. Long, verbose paragraphs will be replaced with short, concise sections with clear subheadings. Each page should be to-the-point with related links that take interested readers to pages that supply more information on a related topic.
More Interactive Content/Product Focus to User Focus
Technical writing has traditionally focused on creating one document that detailed a product or service. That was more of a one-way-street approach. Over time, organizations moved to a scenario-driven approach, which prioritized application usage requirements. In the past few years, however, businesses have felt the need to shift the focus of documentation from product usage scenarios to interactive user problem solving. Not only do you have to create content that is easy to consume, it should also pre-empt the questions and concerns a user might have. This switch can be seen as a move from product-focused to user-focused.
This has, over the past decade, led to a strong use-case-driven approach to documentation, and the next step appears to be a repositioning of documentation as a solution centre. Users can search for guidance using scenarios where they need help, and documentation offers focused solutions that tell the user exactly what they need to do.
Accuracy and Quality Above All
In our era of information overload, there is already a lot of technical content available online. How are you going to ensure that readers will remember and return to your site? One key way to foster that relationship is to build trust by ensuring your content is accurate and pertinent. Apart from being reliable, writers should also aim to make their content less dry and stale (not just facts and stats), so readers get a sense of human interaction and involvement even if they’re reading something on their screen while they’re alone in a room.
Switching from Product to Product Adoption
As we discussed earlier, technical writing began by informing people about the product and its capabilities. Market analysis, however, quickly revealed that while this approach may provide all relevant information, it doesn’t necessarily lead to sales or customer retention. As technical content becomes more user-focused, it will deliver end-user adoption by describing the benefits of choosing one product over another, doing comparative analysis, explaining pricing, etc. Here, again, we need to create content that’s fresh and engaging to ensure readers can connect with it better.
Technical Writing for Videos/E-learning
As technology takes over human lives, it brings about changes in the way people consume content. One of these changes is people switching to videos for research, especially in the early stages. We’ve seen an increased interest in live interactive sessions in the recent past. This won’t replace technical writing; rather, technical writing will be used to create most of the content for these and other Learning Management Systems (LMS). This will also help with product adoption as it helps users become better acquainted with the product/service.
New Types of Content
With new forms of communication being available now, technical writing can be used to present data in a way that brings in new users as well as increasing brand loyalty by providing accurate and relevant information as quickly as possible. For example, chatbots can be used to respond to most common concerns immediately. Blogs are also becoming more specific and technical in nature, which is another growing area for technical writers.
Technical writing is also emerging as a big part of a company’s marketing efforts. Not only do writers produce content for presales and marketing collateral, such as case studies, whitepapers and so on, they also help interconnect documentation with blogs and marketing collateral. With most businesses moving their information services online, technical writing makes it easier for users to find and implement solutions and examples to give them improved results.
Focus on Customer Interface Platforms
Knowledge capture has always been a big part of technical writing, and this is going to continue in the future. As more and more people have switched to working from home and social distancing, finding out information through casual conversations has dropped. People are turning to experts online to provide them the information they need on a range of topics. Technical writers can help companies spot these relatively new areas of interest and create content for user onboarding or to promote the product or service.
These are some of the trends we expect will influence technical writing in the future. Of course, with technology advancing (and being adopted by people) rapidly, we might find some additional influences along the way. As proficient technical writers, we can’t afford to turn our backs to the market or emerging technologies. Rather, these should be our sources of inspiration! Taking advancements in our stride only helps us grow stronger, as we continue to provide the most relevant and adaptive service to our customers.