20 Technology Skills Tech Writers Should Have

Inspired by this post at the Shifted Librarian:

  1. Spreadsheet Skills

  2. Database Skills

  3. Scripting Skills

  4. Electronic Presentation Skills

  5. Web Site Design Skills

  6. Email Management Skills (including outgoing mail)

  7. File Management Skills (non-Windows)

  8. Computer Network Skills (including Wireless)

  9. Installing Software Skills

  10. Distance Learning Skills (vendor agnostic)

  11. Computer-related storage devices (DVDs, SANs, USB Drives)

  12. Knowledge of PDAs and cell phones

  13. Advanced Electronic Research Skills

  14. Electronic Copyright Knowledge

  15. Computer Security Knowledge

  16. Web Content Delivery Skills (RSS, Newsreaders, Forums, Blogs, etc)

  17. Fontography Skills

  18. Basic to Intermediate Electronic Page Design Skills (using Word templates doesn't count)

  19. Advanced Markup Skills

  20. Basic to Intermediate Skill in at least one area of expertise that doesn't relate to writing.

You might get away with not having one or two of these, but you better be supplementing them with other items. It never ceases to amaze me the number of people who can "write" but have zero clue who they are writing for. I saw a comment the other day in reformSTC that every minute spent using the product of a tech writer is a minute not spent completing the task the user needs to accomplish. What a profound statement. It was, in true writer fashion, pounced on and flamed out of conversation.

That's too bad. Maybe it's not a true portrayal of the concept, but it's a hell of a lot closer than the attitude that users are idiots because they didn't read the entire chapter of Help on composing a widget.

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