I write clear, usable and effective software documentation that gives the audience a great online experience and represents organisations’ voices appropriately. To do this, I follow the principles of user-centred design and established web standards. I also advocate for what people want and expect from modern digital services.
As the writer in a user experience design team in the University of Warwick’s IT department, I write manuals, user guides, release notes, support documentation and user interface copy for web applications developed in-house.
I strive for clarity above all else. Simplicity and precision in language require focus, critical questioning, collaboration, iteration and tenacity. The end result may appear simple – in microcopy for an interface or a web publishing tutorial – yet it takes care and attention to achieve that result.
To demystify complexity for readers and myself, I rely on these methods:
- Know the product well – to write clear documentation, I must understand how to use an application in depth. Readers sense when instructions gloss over difficult steps, leave gaps or assume unrealistic prior knowledge. Writers know when they’re winging it.
- Empathise – it’s vital to put myself in someone else’s shoes and anticipate their questions or concerns. I consider readers’ emotional states and the environmental context in which they use digital services.
- Research – the groundwork of good technical writing is learning why features are designed a certain way, what problems they solve and the dependencies in a system.
- Ask clear questions – after reading up on features and testing to learn how they work, there’s still a need to ask others for clarification or confirmation. I try to hone questions as much as possible beforehand to minimise the time demands on developers and designers.
I believe that the best digital experiences are made by close-knit teams of designers, developers, support specialists, writers and product managers who share the same environment and tackle design problems together. Understanding each other’s craft, language, terminology and preferences leads to more productive conversations and better designs.
2012 to present
Online Copywriter – University of Warwick
2010 to 2012
Training and Production Coordinator – Podnosh
2005 to 2010
Digital Communications Executive, Web & Data Officer – West Midlands Regional Observatory
- Technical writing
- Managing documentation
- User interface copy
- Web content design
- Web content management
- HTML, CSS and LESS
- Responsive design
- Mapping user journeys
- Information architecture
- Software testing
- Private sector - 6 years
- Public sector - 6 years
- Higher education - 5 years