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Technical Writing: How has it changed in the last 5 years?

Technical writing has witnessed various trends since the 1980s. After 2015, various new technical writing trends evolved.

Brief history of technical writing in the 20th Century

  • The year 1949 marks the starting year of technical writing. Joseph Chapline published a user manual for the computer he developed - the BINAC.

  • Later in the 50s', ad campaigns to find technical writers became popular in New England.

  • In the next decade, in the '60s, rigorous searches were made to find well-informed and intuitive technical writers, especially for computing and aeronautics.

  • In the following decade, technical communication became a never missing topic for the journals. Technical writing got legal recognition as a profession in the 1980s.

  • The introduction of ISO 9000 certifications in the 1980s brought a revolution in this field.

The improvements in 21st Century

  • Quick answers via FAQs

The use of FAQs and quick facts has become a popular option in providing answers to the users. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and Quick Facts usually provide answers in 2-3 simple and short sentences. These aid users in getting quick answers instead of reading the full document.

  • Video manuals

To attract a larger audience and make the content immersive, the use of multimedia like images, animated videos, and audios have flourished. Technical tutorials have benefitted from this in simplifying a technically complex subject.

  • Chatbots

Using chatbots to get answers to the queries instantly rather than waiting for human assistance has become a norm. Technical writers along with AI have been imagining the scripts between the users and the device and forming the answers in Q&A formats to provide the answers quickly.

  • Technical writing for the elderlies

The technology has brought a generation gap with it. People born before the 70s have to rely on their children or grandchildren to operate technology. Thus a massive influx of technical content can be seen to simplify technology to the elders.

  • From ink to the internet

From a Smartphone to microwave, every product from a sharpener to a shredder, whether for the kitchen or a big corporate house, would have a textbook-sized manual for customer assistance. However, the heavy use of the internet slowly caused a shift in the size of the binders and moved most of its frequently used features to the web pages. Because it does not require flipping pages repeatedly, there was an uprise in the change. Technical writers started making easy, step-wise lists of instructions and manuals, which were one click away.

  • Technical Writing + Marketing.

We can find technical writing and content marketing to have different goals historically. However, over the past few years, technical writers have incorporated marketing. Meaning, you can notice attractive messages and quality content that convinces users to sign up to make their next purchase of a product or service with a brand.

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