Writing for developers vs non-developers

I work for a start-up software company.  We have a web-based business management service that I work on.  For a while, I was the only developer.  I had one other “team member”, but he was in Ohio and only helped me out when needed.  My boss is not a computer guy, he’s a businessman.  We don’t have a “tech support” team.  Me and my boss respond to the support emails from clients.  This has led to some interesting challenges in communication.

As the developer of the website, I know how things work internally.  I also can’t think the same was as the clients that use our software.  When my boss gives me a task, I sometimes need to be shown it so that i can make notes about it myself.  Without that, the written description might not make much sense to me.

The reverse is also true, when I enter a bug in our bug tracker or make an SVN commit, my boss doesn’t always understand what I’m trying to say, so I need to think of a way to “simplify” it.

For the most part, we understand each other, but there are times when further explanation is needed.  This also happens when reading customer support emails.  I don’t think the way they do, and I don’t always use the software the way they do.  So, when they claim something is broken, I don’t always understand what they were trying to do in the first place.  This is where I ask my boss to talk with them to clarify.  (P.S. “it doesn’t work” does not help us fix issues)

Anyway, in our office, it seems sometimes better to have demonstrations while people take notes, than trying to explain something in a way the other can understand.

– Eric aka ens3261

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About nticompass

Web developer by day, sleeping by night. Also ponies.

4 thoughts on “Writing for developers vs non-developers

  1. Demonstrations can be very powerful teaching tools. Can you offer demonstrations to your customers to help them use your website/product more knowledgeably?

    • Yes, I can and I have. We’ve had clients come into our office (and we’ve even gone to their offices) and we’ve trained them on setting up/using the software.

      We recently hired a new sales guy, and that’s part of his job. He knows the software and he teaches clients to use it.

      I usually respond to tech support emails and explain the issues to the customer.

      Sometimes, our sales guy understand the client’s need better than me, so it’s better to have him teach new clients, and I just help when necessary.

  2. A few comments on grammar & typos:
    1) My boss is not a computer guy, he’s a businessman. –> The comma should be a semi-colon because it connects two complete sentences.
    2) Me and my boss respond to the support emails from clients. –> should be “My boss and I…” (Remove him from the sentence and you’ll see it.)
    3) I also can’t think the same was as the clients that use our software. –> “was” should be “as”.

    Good luck with your work. Communication is sometimes difficult in person and in writing.

    • Thanks for the feedback. I always mix up “me and my boss” and “my boss and I”. That last one just seems like a typo, guess I need to proofread more 🙂

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