Why not have developers write technical documentation? After all, they likely designed the software, or at least had a hand in the design. Don’t they know the software best? Yes, perhaps they do, but that does not make them the best candidates for writing manuals, or even Help files.

The truth is that most developers do not like writing docs. They prefer writing code. When pressed into service for documentation, they will complete the task as quickly as possible in order to get back to their preferred job. The resulting documentation is likely to be too sophisticated for an end user. It will often assume too much technical savvy from current customers and a level of product knowledge that new users cannot possibly have.

Although few and far between, there are software engineers who enjoy the break from design and code to write documentation. Some of these people even write well. But beware! If you are one of those lucky product development managers who can rely on an engineer for docs, be sure to schedule time for documentation QA from a technical writer or the QA team.

Developers know the product so well, they can’t foresee the mistakes that end users make, and they don’t write instructions to prevent those errors. This oversight leads to increased Help Desk calls for problems that could have been avoided with clearer docs.

In contrast, professional technical writers approach the product from the point of view of the end user. Like customers, they don’t know all the ins and outs of the product design. Therefore, they can anticipate where users will have trouble and write detailed, even elementary, steps to improve the user experience. Their own questions can be used to build a dynamic FAQ list for product Help files or a user Wiki community. Developers’ time spent on docs is reduced to one interview and occasional questions, usually via email, to clarify points as the tech writer completes the docs.

The result is a set of manuals and Help files that provide solutions for users before they even have problems, preventing support calls and promising more satisfied customers.

Contact The Essay Expert for professional writing assistance with your technical documentation. Our experienced technical writer will be a seamless addition to your development team, writing everything from Help files and manuals to last-minute ReadMe and release notes. The results? High quality product documentation and happy developers.

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