Technical Writing Tips
It’s not a secret to say that technical writing can be dry for both the writer and the reader. After all, it’s heavy on specs, data, and other seemingly impenetrable subject matters, making it difficult to feel excitement or a connection to the audience or topic. The copy can end up being dry and lifeless, more of a space holder than actually beneficial to your audience.
So what can you do when your subject matter, product, or service lives in the technical realm? How do you create buzz from decidedly un-buzzworthy topics? And more importantly, should you? Here are a few basic tips to keep in mind when creating effective content for technical subjects.
1) Know your audience.
Understanding your customers is the cornerstone of successful marketing. When you’re intimately aware of your customers’ needs, you will be able to create content that speaks to them effectively and efficiently, and in a way that is meaningful to them. Respect the fact that technical readers don’t want a “marketing campaign.” They want information and facts.
2) Stop trying to “make things sexy.”
Not everything needs to be “made sexy,” to use an overused advertising cliché. Technical audiences want technical information. Many businesses try so hard to dress up their technical writing that it wildly misses the audience that matters most: the technical professionals. This doesn’t mean that your technical content can’t be –or shouldn’t be – compelling, clear, and well written; it simply means that it’s important to keep the flash and sizzle to a minimum so that it doesn’t distract from the message and facts.
3) “Keep It Simple, Stupid”
A general rule in marketing copywriting is that the more words there are, the fewer of them will be read. Don’t take 10 words to say what can be said in 5. This proves to be even more important with technical content writing. By its nature it is not very exciting, so the temptation to “spice it up” is always there. But technical writing is not a place to show off prose or clever turns of phrase: it’s to convey explicit and exact information. Edit, cut, condense, and make sure every word has a clear and direct purpose. Be sure to “KISS,” or “keep it simple, stupid.”
4) Trust your product
When you fully believe in your product and services, that fact will be communicated in all of your content, from technical white papers to consumer-focused headlines. While fancy marketing bells and whistles do attract attention, they often attract attention away from the actual product. For a technical audience, nothing is more of a turn-off than feeling like the actual content and information you were hoping for is nothing more than puffery or meaningless buzzwords. Let your products and services do the talking in the technical realm, and don’t be ashamed to let them do so.
Technical writing isn’t glamorous. But that’s sort of the point. It’s not meant to create catch phrases or to produce water cooler talk about edgy marketing campaigns. Technical writing’s sole purpose is to convey direct information in a way that many other areas of marketing don’t: in a stripped down, content-focused, straightforward manner.