Where Did Technical Writing Go?

As someone who started out as a technical writer about 15 years ago and quickly diverted into interaction design and usability, I can certainly empathise with the sentiment of Jared Spool’s article, Where Did Technical Writing Go?

I studied Technical Communication at Coventry University, and although I feel my studies were as relevant to interaction design as techincal writing, most of my peers went the technical writing route.

Over the years it has been interesting to see the career archs of various folk. Certainly many of them road the tech boom and shortage of qualified tech. writers – and for many years I was very envious of the salaries and overseas jobs they seemed to be getting with alarming regularity. But I can only agree with Jared, the tech. writers lot is tough and getting tougher.

But on a positive note I don’t believe the transition from technical writing to interaction design/usability is necessarily that tough. I found that after a few years of documenting unusable systems, it was relatively easy to channel my frustration more productively into making the systems easier to use in the first place.


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