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There are three types of knowledge
every technical writer needs to acquire to succeed, product knowledge,
technical knowledge and user knowledge. However, just knowing one of the three
won't provide you with the kind of information you need to
write good documentation. Product knowledge is an understanding of
a product to serve that might include information about its application,
function, features, use and support requirements. Technical knowledge means logical
understanding of how systems and processes work and
interact with each other. Instead of depending on
subject matter experts for everything, you can become
the subject matter expert yourself. There are many reasons
why it's a good idea for a technical writer to gain extensive
product and technical knowledge. You will gain respect
of the developers and be able to talk to them
with some intelligence. You will be able to determine
whether information you receive or read is correct. You will be able to write much faster
than you would if you know nothing. You would have confidence that your
documentation is accurate even when it has not been sufficiently reviewed
by subject matter experts. When you become well versed in the
technical and user aspects of the product about which you are writing,
you will find it much easier to write. You should strive to get knowledge
of each of the following. A product management understanding
of how the product behaves, looks, meets the necessary requirements,
and serves the needs of the customers. A quality assurance understanding
when it comes to being at were if something does
not work as expected. A user experience understanding
of who the product is or how easy the product is to use. An engineering understanding of
the technology behind the product. A business development
specialist understanding of how important this product is to
the business plans of your company. So how can you acquire the three types
of knowledge, product knowledge, technical knowledge and user knowledge,
technical writers need to succeed. The more knowledge you have,
the better documentation you can create. However, omit the information overload
technical writers often face. It's also one of the most
difficult assets to acquire. Why is product knowledge among the three
most essential types of knowledge? Since you are writing about the product,
you have to know a lot about this product. But the interesting part about
getting product knowledge is that technical writers often are not real
users of the product they document. To do this, you need to learn
a wide body of research skills, so that you could, for example,
do a good interview, or set up a small focus group, or
send out a very direct survey. Each time you have to step back and go to the user's questions,
what will users be using it for? What are their primary needs? What obstacles might get in their way? How they are going to use it? And who's going to use it? These three types of
knowledge often overlap. You need to learn a lot of things
about the product and byproduct. I would include the whole domain
where the product's contexts is it's sort of industry or market awareness. But all you need to really focus on what
the user wants to know about that product. There's one more aspect I want to touch
upon in terms of gaining product knowledge by being the user. And this is probably the most
important thing about any job, regardless of your like or
dislike of the product. You have to test out all
of the instructions. It sounds somewhat trivial, but the more technical the position you have,
the more difficult it becomes. In whatever programming language or
technical domain you're approaching, there are endless amounts
of things you could learn. If you are, for example,
with Android even, there are so many layers that you
could possibly focus on. This is why you have to
filter down to the product. What part of this technical domain
is relevant based on the product?. What helps you filter down
the whole immensity of technical information you could possibly
have to in more manageable subset. Gaining the technical
knowledge in one of the most challenging aspects of developing
the product documentation. Some software programming
is a hot domain in itself. It's a whole discipline. You cannot just go in and say, I totally understand what this code is
doing and I can easily write about it. Somebody is a professional, who spent
years in training getting into a point. So no matter how many
beginner tutorials or online courses you can go
through trying to figure it out, you will probably be still like a
kindergarten level compared to engineers. It can be frustrating because it's hard to
break through to a deeper technical level. But at the very least,
by going through these online courses to gain this knowledge and
become familiar with terms and basics. And from that terminology,
you can get correct understanding about something fundamentally and
know how it works. Then you will be able to understand
what engineers are saying. You will write more credibly
using appropriate terms. So you need to go out and
do the search teaching yourself. And that's the key to
a technical communicator. You have to be always eager to learn
something you and not be afraid of it. By large, you need to learn how to
learn and you have to be open to that. The other thing you have to do is learn
how to ask really good questions. Asking good questions is hard especially
when it comes to technical staff. If you can match asking a good question
with using your basic understanding, you get to the deeper knowledge of the
subject and that's a life long learning. As for the user knowledge, you have to look at analytics on
various webpages, user forums. Where you can get information about
potential uses, concerns and interests. Fashion and demographics research,
annual engineering surveys. You should know what your audience wants.

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