The Difference Between User and Technical Documentation

One of the five blogs I choose to follow was primarily because the title initially stood out from the rest of the blogs available. Once on this blog I found a interesting post about technical and user documentation. It highlighted how there is a pretty stark difference between the two as far as depth of content is concerned. The post is primarily the author talking about how his wife’s car got brought into the shop for a faulty catalytic converter. The author had no idea what this meant in terms of the functionality of the car. After the mechanic explained the purpose of the part to him the author did not at ease he had even more questions. His point being that yes a user “guide” fills in the small parts of knowledge most users do not have about the product but it stops there. If you want to know more about these devices or systems you have to find a technical expert to ask your looming questions. As a technical writer the author has seen a push for online help to be more expansive then most of the help he has received in the past from basic user guides due to the fact that it is simply easier to link expert help to the user guide due to the internet. Overall he is pretty much saying that looking at technical writing as it going to either a user or a technical person is no longer the way things need to be done. The audience as a whole should be considered and tailored to for the writing of technical works. In conclusion, I agree with the author. I think people should have user guides that explain things in detail and if they don’t want to read the technical part they can still understand the idea of the instructions and use the product safely and effectively.

by Ian Crell