Successful localization projects require the interplay of diverse skillsets. While you might not have a technical writer in your localization team, technical writer skills can positively impact your overall performance.

If you’re reading this article, you may already be acquainted with the world of localization project management. But did you know about a related profession whose skills can be a game changer for you?

I’m talking about technical communication.

According to tekom, the European Association for Technical Communication, “Technical communication is the process of defining, creating and delivering information products for the safe, efficient and effective use of products.” Let’s see why learning about this field may actually benefit your work as a localization project manager in the context of your company’s business strategy.

Some Useful Technical Writer Skills and Their Impact

Information Structuring

Organization comes in more than one form: scheduling skills, workflow planning skills, information organization, among many others. While technical writers are required to structure information as part of their job description, this is not necessarily a top priority taught to project managers. However, a well-rounded localization professional needs to have flawless communication skills, and this includes producing writing that is clear, concise, well-structured, and relevant to your information users – your readers.

Knowledge of information structuring, together with proper documentation management, will ensure that all your documentation, both internal and external, whether for reference or communication, is neat and usable. This also means optimizing tasks such as information retrieval or technical onboarding for novice team members.

Knowledge of Standards

People at a table working on laptops

One of the most important technical writer skills is knowledge of standards. If you’re writing documentation without researching market requirements, if you don’t consult your legal team… then you may be in trouble, and your documentation may be inappropriate or even useless.

Likewise, whether you are a translator or a junior project manager, learning about industry standards is fundamental. What kind of checks are you supposed to perform on your work? What kind of certification(s) does your company have, and what does that mean for your everyday workflow? Such questions will lead you to consider the wider business and industry landscape and understand why you do things in a particular way.

Awareness of Your Organization’s Business Strategy

Technical writers are special in that they’re performing a task that is seemingly unrelated to what the rest of the company’s doing: when developers are creating software, sales representatives are selling, tech writers are… well, writing. They’re documenting a product, drafting FAQs or troubleshooting guides. But they do not forget the context in which they’re doing it. They’re not writing just because they feel like it, but to complement their company’s product offering and to fulfill a business need, which is informing users.

This is a valuable lesson for all of us in the localization industry. While being aware of the requirements and scope of our individual roles, it is sensible to keep in mind how we contribute to the bigger picture.

Putting It All Together

As we have seen, it is very important for a localization project manager to have a wide array of skills and to work together with other stakeholders to achieve success. A key point to bear in mind is that the tasks we perform are interconnected and that we all benefit from open, clear communication and timely interactions. Let’s not forget that behind every fancy role name there is a human being. Our diverse teams and the great project goals we’re working towards deserve that we take nothing for granted.

If you’d like to learn more about technical writer skills and how to improve them, take a look at this article on the TCLoc Master’s blog. You can also visit the tcworld magazine’s website to find out how technical communicators view the interface between their profession and localization.

Understanding the importance of technical concepts and forms of communication in different environments thanks to technical communication classes at the university is crucial to help the student become a technical communicator. Learn here why teaching technical communication at the university can greatly help you in your future life! 

The Nuts and Bolts of Technical Communication 

Technical communication is interwoven into our everyday lives; it pertains to each and every one of us in a highly impactful way.  The words found in technical documentation can bring us joy (think new gadget), spare us pain (think well-written safety instructions), save a life (think machinery operators), or they can help us in a basic and uneventful sort of way (as in, switching on your morning coffee).  Whether we read the instructions, quickly scroll through them, or toss them into the recycling, knowing what goes into this process of documentation is critical. This process is composed of so much more than just “instructions” and its specificities and intricacies dive into skills, ideas, and content matter that make it a suitable and necessary course of study for not only those who are more linguistically inclined, but also future engineers. Technical communication bridges the gap between science and language, resulting in an interdisciplinary subject that should find its way into higher-level institution curriculums the world over. 

Technical documentation example of an in-flight safety card, Image by Calle Macarone from unsplash.com

Why Teach Technical Communication (TC) in Higher Education? 

For the Language Lovers

Although not commonly thought of as scholarly or traditional literature, technical documentation is an art in its own right, and mandates the highest level of both communicatory and grammatical skill. For language majors, this different type of writing also helps them dissect the language from a diverse mindset, and expands upon their skills (and therefore opportunities). Additionally, technical documentation now includes new ways to look at and use language, such as Simplified Technical English (STE) or Controlled Natural Language (CNL). This not only aids in learning grammar and orthography, but also helps to incorporate a more interdisciplinary look at language thanks to the connection to science. Furthermore, it adds the element of determining and writing for a specific target audience, which also integrates the components of empathy and technical knowledge.

For the Science Lovers

For engineers, the link between the criticality of teaching the art of technical documentation and their future as engineers, may not be quite as obvious. But yet, it is just as present and important. Engineers should know how their product will be documented, and should be part of the process (risk analysis, failure to warn, software documentation, etc.). This should be part of who they are in the workforce, instead of operating on a more stand-alone and specific basis. Technical Writing, a Guide for Effective Communication, written by professors at the Polytechnical Institute of Catalonia, Barcelona, sums up this connection best with its following points: 

“Engineers and scientists’ writing skills must be of a high standard in order to effectively communicate with the people with whom they work. It is not enough for them to be technically good; they must be skillful in communicating what they are doing and why it is important. As a last resort, their technical and professional value will very much depend on their capacity to convince others of the importance of their work… engineers who can communicate their thoughts clearly and efficiently are bound to be promoted to more challenging positions.”

Furthermore, they explained that being skilled at written communication (regardless of language) has chances to add value that improves your resume but also helps you to stand out from other candidates in a job selection process.  

Empathy and Technical Communication

Why does it seem that the sappy stuff never finds its way into academia? Teaching technical communication  allows you to bring the emotion and empathy back into the classroom in a way that benefits both the students and, frankly, the future. In order to be an effective technical communicator, it is critical that you “know your audience” in order to properly and successfully write your material. Therefore, the students must be schooled not only in the academic skills, but in the emotional skills as well. And, this will propel your students forward in a way that others will lag behind. Why? According to the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development), “Social and emotional skills, such as empathy and respect for others, are becoming essential as classrooms and workplaces become more diverse.” So much so, that the OECD has established these as necessary skills for the future, and ones that MUST be taught. Bulls-eye! You are helping the linguists, the engineers, and every student in between to be successful both in their future careers and in life.  

Ready, set, go!

Now that it is quite clear that your university would benefit immensely from teaching technical communication, how should you go about adding this class to your curriculum? Luckily, the wheels are already in motion for you, as there is a group of dedicated professors already assembled to discuss, improve and implement new TC pedagogy in higher education

And for the students, let the well-written, well-researched, well-paid (in the future), empathetic excitement commence! If you are interested in technical communication, don’t hesitate to check the TCLoc Master’s curriculum!

Meet Ashley Miller! 

Ashley Miller is a TCLoc Master’s student with a background in educational instruction and pedagogy. After working as a professor in the French higher-education system (as well as a secondary English teacher in the United States of America), she has carved out her mission to help French university students gain from and profit from a holistic approach to learning. Technical Communication is an excellent interdisciplinary domain to do just that! 

Looking for simple but effective content creation tips for your nonprofit? Here are three tips that will help you with your nonprofit marketing strategy.

Every penny counts, and that is especially true for nonprofit organizations. In recent years, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have been turning to content marketing as a cost-effective yet powerful way of boosting their internet presence. Nonprofit marketing has the potential to help them reach their target audience, bring awareness to their cause, and attract and more importantly retain donors. In this article, we will share three simple but effective tips to help NGOs create effective content as part of their nonprofit marketing strategy.

Why Create Content?

Let’s first define content marketing. Content marketing is a marketing technique that involves creating and distributing relevant, valuable, and consistent content that is designed to attract and retain an audience, such as online material videos, blogs, infographics, and social media posts. Nonprofit organizations are increasingly making use of content marketing. According to a report from the Content Marketing Institute and Blackbaud, over 92% of nonprofit professionals were using content marketing, and 65% were creating more content than they were before. 
Furthermore, according to Demand Metric, 90% of all organizations are using content marketing practices, with the primary reason being that it costs 62% less than traditional marketing. It has been even more successful as a means of improving brand loyalty, keeping readers’ attention, and generating sales – or in the case of NGOs, donations. 

Nonprofit Marketing Tips 

Now that we’ve seen how important content marketing is, how exactly can NGOs create effective content? Here are some suggestions you can use to generate quality content for your nonprofit marketing strategy.

1. Create Focused Content 

To create focused content, you need to have a clear understanding of what your target audience is interested in. As you create each piece of content, think about what your readers define as valuable and draw inspiration from their perspectives. Remember that good quality content should always:

  • be easy to read 
  • be well-structured
  • stay on topic
  • be written for a specific audience
  • be written with a specific intention

2. Create Emotional Content

Nonprofit organizations often aim at raising awareness of causes in geographical areas that are far away from the target audience. Physical distance creates emotional distance and this diminishes the two most important aims of a nonprofit marketing strategy, raising awareness of a cause and gathering resources to help this cause (through donations, for instance). When creating your content, whether it be a video or an article, keep in mind that it is a good idea to appeal to your audience’s emotions. Try to evoke strong emotions such as sympathy, sadness, and joy to bridge the emotional gap and galvanize the audience. For an example of highly emotional content that closes the emotional gap, watch this video

3. Be Story-Centric

Great content includes storytelling. As its name implies, storytelling is about relating a series of events enriched with emotions and details. In the case of nonprofit marketing, the goal of telling stories with an emotional impact is to give rise to empathy. Empathy is feeling with (as opposed to feeling for, which is sympathy). Nonprofits can elicit empathy by telling stories that their target audience can relate to through their own experiences. 

No matter what that point of relatability is, it makes the story memorable. In the context of nonprofit marketing, telling stories that resonate with people on a deeper level is therefore a great way to get your points across, raise awareness, convince potential donors and, overall, attain your goals.

Here are some examples of nonprofit storytelling, as well as an introduction to storytelling for nonprofits

Conclusion 

Remember, successful nonprofit content marketing isn’t just about growing your audience. It’s just as important to maintain a close connection with the donors and supporters you already have. An effective nonprofit marketing strategy will help nurture these relationships, fostering rewarding connections that become even more valuable over time.

Did you find these tips helpful? Let us know in the comments below!

Hi there! I’m Maiken Blok, a TCLoc master’s alumni and technical communicator at a software company called TimeLog A/S in Copenhagen, Denmark. I work in digital adoption, which includes everything involving software documentation, user assistance and UI/UX writing.

The question I get asked the most is: “Is it worth completing a master’s degree in technical communication and localization?”. My answer is always: “Yes, absolutely!”.

Both the machine and software industries need educated and skilled technical communication professionals to take on an increasing number of tasks in addition to just writing. The TCLoc master’s provides you with the knowledge and skills you need to help companies in these industries succeed.

Let me tell you how I apply what I learned through the TCLoc degree in my job at TimeLog.

Do You Really Use Elements From All Courses?

Short answer: Yes. There is not a single course from the master’s that hasn’t helped me in my day-to-day professional work. I’ll admit that I was a bit puzzled when I first took the courses, but now it all makes perfect sense.

Let me group my tasks into three areas:

1. User Interface writing and localization

2. Software documentation and visual communication

3. Project management

User Interface Writing and Localization

You probably know this under the name UI/UX writing or labels writing. For me, it’s all about writing high-quality texts for the software, keeping track of our terminology and ensuring that we choose the correct words for the different contexts within the interface and the culture of the target language.

Our systems cover six languages, which means that there is plenty of localization work. We need to stay informed of the newest developments in our target market and make sure we reach the right target groups.

In addition, the Web Tools course provides some very valuable skills. Being able to read code comes in handy when I need to find the exact placement of, for example, buttons or info text icons.

Software Documentation and Visual Communication

I’m responsible for our online help center, which offers guidance, best practice documentation and processes to help our users get the most out of TimeLog PSA.

When I write for the help center, I keep plain language principles in mind, make use of Simplified Technical English, take into account SEO and, in particular, put into practice everything I learned about personas, scripts and mental models in the Usability and User Experience Design course.

All this combined helps me produce style guides and create new help documentation which really help our users familiarize themselves with the software, based on actual data and not just assumptions. I also recently started to conduct user testing of the documentation, which is a very interesting process.

Next year, we plan to implement an action bot, where I’ll be able to apply many of the skills I gained in the Information 4.0 course with Ray Gallon.

Project Management

Project Management was one of my favorite courses, because I’m able to use what I learned in both my personal and professional life.

At TimeLog, I apply the principles I learned to both short, operational projects, such as minor releases, as well as to large, strategic projects, such as the development of a new learning center or the switch to a new technology.

The theoretical foundation helps me build strong project plans, with realistic deadlines and deliverables.

The TCLoc Master’s = A Game Changer

TCLoc provides theoretical knowledge, practical applications and brilliant instructors. This combination has made me a better technical communicator and a more valuable asset to my employer.

The instructors are highly skilled professionals within their fields and, along with the students, provide an international perspective to the program.

I’d like to highlight especially Kirk St. Amant and Shumin Chen, with whom I am still in contact and collaborate with on events as part of my work as the president of tekom Danmark. In addition, the study management team provides great support and Renate De la Paix is a great inspiration to me. You really get the feeling that she wants the best for all her students, and she puts extra effort into helping you succeed.

Thanks to my degree, I can now perform more tasks, make better informed decisions and develop strategies for digital adoption.

The TCLoc degree, together with the international “Technical Communicator (tekom)” certification, has also given me the perfect foundation to build a strong team of writers and to practically apply my knowledge to the business processes we follow. A win-win situation!

Still in doubt if this is the right choice for you? Feel free to reach out to me at any time and ask for guidance. I’m always happy to help.

About The Writer

Maiken found her calling as a trained technical communicator. She holds a master’s degree in Technical Communication and Localization from the University of Strasbourg, France, and the Technical Communicator certification from tekom.

Both as a mentor for technical communication students and as president of tekom Danmark, she aspires to spread the word about her profession and motivate even more people to join the technical communication field.

As part of the product management team at TimeLog A/S in Denmark, she turns her understanding of Customer Success into useful help documentation, learning paths and onboarding material.

About TimeLog A/S

TimeLog was founded in 2001 with the aim of creating the world’s best time tracking tool.

Today, more than 70 TimeLoggers in Denmark, Sweden and Malaysia ensure that TimeLog is the best system in the world. TimeLog PSA is targeted at highly ambitious consulting and advisory companies who aim to develop their business and optimize internal workflows all the way from the initial contract to the final invoice.

I’m sure this won’t be breaking news to you: English is the main language of technical documentation around the world. 

According to the Ethnologue, English is the most widely spoken language with just under 1.3 billion speakers worldwide. However, more than two thirds of those do not consider English to be their mother tongue.

Maybe you’re a non-native speaker yourself, or maybe you’ve been tasked with writing technical documentation for an audience whose first language is not English. In any case, with that information in mind, you might be wondering how you can ensure that your documentation is clear and easy to understand. Because as a technical writer, your goal is to write documentation that guarantees the safe and satisfactory use of a product. English can be ambiguous to native speakers, let alone non-native speakers, and technical communication should never be confusing, as this could lead to property damage or personal injury.

In this article, you’ll learn why implementing Simplified Technical English will help you reach this goal and more.

What is Simplified Technical English?

Simplified Technical English (STE) is a “controlled language”. To put it simply, a controlled language is a language which has restrictive rules to simplify the structure of the text to make it easier for the reader to understand.

STE uses a combination of writing rules, a dictionary of controlled vocabulary, and company-specific technical words.

There are many controlled languages already in use in the technical communication field, including ASD-STE100 Simplified Technical English, Attempto Controlled English, and Basic English.

Here are some of the main writing rules from ASD-STE100:

  • Use consistent vocabulary and terminology. One word = one meaning. For example, “to fall” is defined as  “to move down by the force of gravity”, not “to decrease”.
  • Do not use long or complex sentences.
  • When there is a choice between American English and British English words and spelling, use the American version (Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary).

Comprehensibility and Simplified Technical English

There are many common misconceptions about Simplified Technical English, but the reality is that there are a huge number of advantages to using it in your documentation:

Standardization

There are approximately 170,000 words in the English language. If not used in a clear and consistent way in technical documentation, this may be a source of confusion and frustration, which may then lead to a dangerous use of a product. To remedy this, the STE dictionary only includes around 900 words, accompanied by a set of around 65 grammar rules.

Considerably reducing the number of words that can be used in a document will result in a standardized way of writing that will ensure consistency by facilitating terminology and content management and simplifying the post-editing process. This will ultimately result in overall better quality and better comprehensibility.  

Time and cost savings

If you have a localization program and you’re working with language vendors, STE also has advantages to offer. The decreased word count will result in lower translation costs, especially if you’re using terminology management tools or CAT tools. Using a controlled language such as Simplified Technical English will also enable you to ask your language vendor for machine translation, thus reducing translation costs even further. Technical documents are very well suited to the use of STE and machine translation.

You will also be more efficient when writing documentation because it will be easier for you to reuse and recycle texts that you have already written. 

STE rules will help you create technical documentation that is easier to understand for both the end user and the translator. 

As you can see, implementing STE in your technical documentation will help increase not only the comprehensibility of the text, but also the efficiency of your technical communication team.

This is why we would recommend organizing STE training for you and your team of technical writers.

You could become a certified Professional Technical Writer by enrolling in our partner training course at tekom, or join us on our TCLoc master’s program to become an expert in technical communication and localization.

If you enjoyed reading this article, please share it or leave a comment below! If you’d like to learn more about Simplified Technical English and Technical Communication, visit our Facebook page and check out the other articles on our blog!

This article gives you some tips and suggestions on how to handle the interviewing process for a technical writer job, based on my own experiences as both an interviewee and as interviewer.

Throughout my career in technical communication, I have had the opportunity to be on both sides of the interview table: as an interviewee, and as an interviewer. 

In this blog article, I will try to share my experience from both perspectives:

But What Is a Technical Writer?

Simply put, a technical writer helps us understand and use technology through a variety of media channels (printed, electronic, audio, visual, etc). 

You can find more details about this profession by visiting the tekom website, which is the largest professional association for technical communication in Europe.

How Do I Become a Technical Writer?

Most technical writers have a bachelor’s degree in journalism, English, communications or engineering and computer science. 

But nowadays you can make a difference and get specialized in the field of technical communication. One of the best ways to achieve that is with the TCLoc master’s program from Strasbourg University. 

Why Does My Company Need a Technical Writer?

Because everyone can write, but not everyone is a technical writer…

And let’s be honest!

Many IT experts (developers, software engineers, system administrators, etc.) don’t have the time or the willingness to write technical documentation…

A technical writer can be a valuable resource for your business

Tips If You Are Applying for a Technical Writer Job

Apart from the typical questions about yourself and your experience, a technical writer interview may include a practical task, such as:

  • presenting some of your writing samples
  • evaluating the company’s existing documentation in writing
  • creating a short article about something software related
  • taking a test to evaluate your English level

As for some specific questions, expect to be asked some of these:

  • What is the tone of your writing? / What is your writing style?
  • What is a style guide? / Do you use a specific one?
  • Do you prefer active voice or passive voice when writing? Explain why.

Technical Writer Wanted 

If you need to hire a technical writer, first make sure you create a proper job description that accurately describes the responsibilities and requirements of the open position. 

Vague phrases like “Write technical documents in compliance with the company’s established standards and guidelines” are not enough. 

You should also mention:

  • if experience with a certain Help Authoring Tool is mandatory
  • if there are any specific language requirements
  • what products/services need to be documented
  • any other “must haves” – such as experience with Java code, medical devices, aerospace engineering, etc.

As for the technical writer interview, make sure you are not only evaluating your candidates’ technical knowledge (tools, software, languages), but also their soft skills and motivation for the job.

The last time I took part in such an interview, we decided to hire the candidate who perhaps had less technical knowledge, but who displayed an enormous willingness to learn. And time proved that it was the best choice.

Are you interested in finding out more about the technical writing profession? Check out the TCLoc program website where you can also find more articles on technical communication

Certification, career, skills, discover in this article everything about a great profession: Technical Writer.

Technical writing, also known as technical communication, is a broad field with many interesting job opportunities. Although the field is not well known, it has many paths for career entry. This article takes a look at the job of a technical writer and how to become one.

What is a Technical Writer?

Most products on the market, whether they are industrial machines, domestic appliances, software tools or board games, come with a manual or a set of operating instructions. Have you ever asked yourself who writes them? The days when just anyone in the organization wrote them are definitely over. Today, the requirements for operating instructions and manuals are just too high to let them be written by anyone but a professional. 

But technical writing isn’t limited to print – digitalization doesn’t stop when it comes to operating instructions. Therefore, creating instructional videos, interactive graphics and app content can also be part of the job of a technical writer.

What Skills Does a Technical Writer Need?

Solid spelling and grammar skills and a feel for linguistic expression are essential for every technical writer. You’ll also need a knack for categorizing everything you are writing, especially when working with XML and different structuring methods. Speaking of XML, a bit of computer science and media technology is also part of the job. HTML, XML, CSS and image editing are skills that a technical writer regularly puts to use.

Depending on the industry, knowledge about its norms and guidelines may be necessary. It also makes your job easier when you have a deep understanding of the technologies behind the products you are writing about.

This combination of a writing job and a technical job makes technical writing truly unique.

How Can I Start a Career as a Technical Writer?

Technical writing isn’t an apprenticed profession but there are three ways to get started in your career as a technical writer.

Lateral Entry

Due to the fact that a technical writer has points of contact with various departments in a company, people from many different backgrounds can make a lateral entry.

Translators, terminologists and engineers all bring some valuable skills  that they either learn on the job or get certified for it.

If you do a lateral entry, you might want to check out this blog post about improving your technical writing skills.

Certification

Tekom, the world’s largest association for technical communication, offers a certificate to show proof of your skills in the field. This certificate is available at two levels: the professional level for people who are just starting out and the expert level for more experienced technical writers. 

It usually takes three steps to get certified:

  1. A qualification consultation where the need for further training is determined.
  2. A training program where knowledge gaps are filled.
  3. An exam – after a successful exam, you become a certified technical communicator.

Various organisations and universities offer preparatory courses for this exam, especially in Germany, where tekom is based. For those outside of Germany who want to get their skills certified, online courses and exams are offered by TCTrainNet.

Undergraduate and Postgraduate Studies

Many universities are offering degree programs in technical communication or similar fields of study. These programs usually cover:

  • linguistic competence and the professional use of language
  • illustration and visualization techniques
  • language standardization
  • communication and comprehensibility 
  • media production 
  • organization, planning and project management
  • basic technical knowledge
  • IT skills

Depending on the program, you may have the opportunity to also specialize in certain fields, like localization or marketing. Usually these programs are full-time but some universities offer part-time and/or online programs for those who want to study while continuing employment or other commitments.

TCLoc, for example, is a distance-learning part-time program from the Faculty of Languages at the University of Strasbourg. It combines postgraduate studies with the tekom certification. It focuses on technical communication, localization, project management, web technologies and visual communication.

So, if you are interested in becoming a technical writer and learning about localization as well, or, if you already know about TCloc and would like to join the program, apply now.

Due to the process of globalization, businesses have recently realized they need to translate, or to use the correct terminology, localize websites to make their products and services available all over the world for different target groups and markets. In comparison to translation, which essentially means transforming text from a source language into a target language, website localization requires an additional set of skills to tailor content to appeal to specific markets.

There are 5 levels of website localization that companies can adopt (Singh & Pereira: 2005). Let’s have a look at each of them and what their advantages and disadvantages are.

1-Standardized websites

When a company uses a single website for all countries, this is known as a standardized website. The same content is provided to domestic and international website visitors. They also do not have the option to switch between languages. Tyco’s website is one of the many examples of standardized websites that we can find online.

Advantages: The business can focus on one target locale only and thus develop products and services tailored to these customers. This requires a smaller staff and budget than for global product launches or campaigns.

Disadvantages: Your capacity for reaching different audiences and markets is minimal, if not zero. A business with a standardized website will only reach local customers and maybe a few customers from other countries that already know about their business and are fluent in the website’s language.

2-Semi-localized websites

As the name implies, a semi-localized website only provides a few translated sections, for instance just the contact page. This kind of semi-localization is often used for online shopping since it is not always necessary to translate the whole website, as we can see in Gap’s website for example.

Advantages: The main advantage of only having a few sections translated is that you can still reach a broader range of target markets (e.g. thanks to localized product tiles, a localized contact page, etc.) as the most relevant sections of the site are localized. This makes sense for businesses who offer online shopping and whose customers already know their product lines.  Customers only have to navigate through the menu, the product tiles and possibly the purchase process.

Disadvantages: As for standardized websites, target market impact is limited. Additionally it might also give visitors the impression that the site is not finished or not professional because only certain sections are translated. 

3-Localized websites

This is the most common level of localization. There is a whole translated site for each country and most content and pages are localized. Specific regional adaptation is often not carried out, however.. Dell’s website is a good example of what a localized website looks like.

Advantages: The size of the target audience is widely expanded in comparison to the semi-localized website. Customers can easily navigate through the website, understand every product display and explanation and walk through the payment process.

Disadvantages: These websites are solidly adapted to their target markets. Their only disadvantage is that their layout, products and services might not be as well tailored to the target audience as in the next two levels of localization we will see. 

4-Highly localized websites

In addition to localizing content, there are culture-specific adaptations that companies should consider. This global localization includes translated content and site structure so that they are fully adapted to the target locale. Even country-specific URLs are provided. 

Advantages: The big advantage of this type of localization is that an originally foreign business can achieve the look and feel of a local company. This is because its website is fully adapted to suit the target language(s) and culture.

Disadvantages: There is hardly any disadvantage to this type of localization. Every product and service page is entirely localized to the target market and provides a fully user-friendly experience.

A very good example is Amazon’s website. Just switch between different markets and see what changes you can see on the website.

5-Culturally-adapted websites

A culturally-adapted website is basically a new site completely adapted to the target culture and is thus the most advanced level of localization. It is even referred to as a total immersion in the target locale. On this type of website, perception, symbolism and behavior of users are taken into account. 

Localizing a website as a translator
Localizing a website as a translator

Advantages: The great advantage of a culturally-adapted website is that a business can manage to penetrate markets that are normally resistant to foreign companies. The website looks like a local business and even heavily cultural aspects such as colors, festivities, holidays and more are taken into account.

Disadvantages: The only downside might be on the financial side. Depending on the size of the company, it has to invest in  hiring employees who are experts in the culture of the target locale and who create individual campaigns, products and services tailored to the target audience(s). That might require hiring many more employees in order to have teams in charge of each region or country the company operates in.

A very good example is IKEA’s website. Switch through the UK, German, Arab and Japanese websites to see how not only the language changes, but also the product display and campaigns.

How to determine which level of localized website to adopt?

To decide what degree of website localization to adopt, a business first needs to determine who their target audiences are and what budget they have. The localization of a website requires more skill sets than what a translator usually has to offer. As a localization specialist, you need to be familiar with e-commerce and user experience. You must also be familiar with cultural aspects of the target culture such as national holidays, customs, seasonal trends, etc. In addition, it is always beneficial to have background knowledge about HTML and CSS to understand the basics of how a website is built.

For those on the other side who make content first hand, here are two other practical blog articles that might help you with creating localization-friendly and adaptable content for an international audience:

What are your thoughts about website localization? Don’t hesitate to comment or share this article on your social media channels!

Want to know more about technical writing? Check out our 5-step approach to technical writing in this article.

What is technical writing and what does a technical writer do? Have you ever had to write an instruction manual and struggled with how to proceed? Well, let’s begin with the assumption that any technical document —whether it is a datasheet, a technical report, or an API guide serves one purpose: informing the user. All kinds of technical documentation (e.g. operating manuals, handbooks, technical reports, etc.) are part of the product itself. Therefore they must be user-oriented as part of a whole content strategy inside the organization.

The process of writing is a complex one, but here you can find the five main steps with useful tips.

1. Collecting info — the first step in the writing process

This step consists in collecting every piece of information you can find about the product you are about to describe. This is the most important part of the process because all the subsequent steps and the whole content rely on this preliminary phase.

During this phase, you must carry out an in-depth analysis of the content and the context. For instance : scope, schedule, the legal framework of the target market, audience, and last but not least, the product and how to use it. This means: 

  • Interviewing SMEs (Subject Matter Experts) and stakeholders. Ask questions to all those who are involved in the development and design process, in order to gain knowledge about the product and the subject matter as well as any applications and features.
  • Studying contracts and specifications. Any technical document must comply with the applicable legal requirements, mainly dealing with product safety, so read them all thoroughly and carefully. 
  • Accessing the risk analysis. Use this internal document to write your technical documentation and draft correct safety warnings and instructions for use.
  • Analyzing your target group of users. This task aims to produce an understandable technical document tailored to the need of your potential readers, in terms of language, type of output media, and graphics.

2. Writing needs structure

During the structuring phase, you will create a well-defined Table of Contents. You need to dedicate time to establish a clear structure because this will be the backbone of your writing journey. However, you should be prepared to modify it along the way, as some fine-tuning may be needed.

3. Drafting —put into practice your technical writing skills

This is the step where you really get into action. As a technical writer, you must always consider the user, and adopt an action-oriented — or “task-oriented” — approach, bearing in mind that your reader is a user who is looking to accomplish a task. Also, always keep an eye on your style and use writing techniques suited to a possible subsequent translation.

Opting for Simplified Technical English as a powerful writing tool

Originally developed to make maintenance documentation for aircraft and their components easier to understand for a global audience, ASD-STE100 Simplified Technical English (STE) is a controlled language standard. It helps to improve readability and translatability of technical documentation. 

Among the syntax rules, note the use of:

  • Active voice
  • Simple verb tenses
  • Simple sentence structure
  • Term consistency

If you are curious and want to learn more, check out this article about the benefits of STE.

4. Submitting your technical documentation for review

One may be tempted to skip this step, but this is actually a crucial phase. Always submit your draft to the Subject Matter Experts (SMEs). There are two reasons to do this. Firstly, as a technical writer you always need to validate the content of your writing. Secondly, you want your text to be free of errors such as typos or grammar mistakes. Another set of eyes is always great support.

5. Release

Once your content has been updated with remarks and corrections implemented, you can proceed to the DTP (Desktop Publishing) step. You should carried this out at the very end of the process, to avoid unnecessary reworking of layout and formatting.

To wrap up

Writing technical documentation may be seen as putting together building blocks to shape an effective and coherent structure.

As further reading, I suggest checking out this interesting article about small but useful tips to survive as a technical writer.

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Dating from the early 1970s, outsourcing remains a powerful business trend. Whether it be onshore, nearshore, or offshore, more than 90% of companies practice it nowadays. Outsourcing offshore IT operations was the root of the incredible job market growth in countries such as India and the Philippines. However, as needs evolve, so does the career market. For instance India has experienced a significant increase in technical writing degree programs as well as job offers in the last decade. In this context, how helpful would outsourcing technical writing be?

What Is Outsourcing?

In simple terms, outsourcing is the practice of hiring services or buying goods manufactured outside a firm. Companies often outsource customer service operations (call centers). However, they also tend to outsource production tasks, human resources, and even entire divisions, such as the IT department (e.g. IBM). Undoubtedly, the main objective of outsourcing is to reduce costs without compromising quality. Nevertheless, this strategy provides other significant advantages: better focus on more important aspects of the business, more competitiveness and faster turnaround times.

To outsource, companies can either turn to big third-party providers, or hire independent contractors or freelancers. The key for a successful outsourcing experience is partner relationship management. Creating partnerships is healthier than just paying for a project.

There are three types of outsourcing: onshore, nearshore, and offshore. The difference lies in the geographical location of the third-party. While onshore outsourcing involves a provider in the same country, offshore relocates work or services overseas. As for nearshore, the third-party is located in neighboring countries.

Outsourcing Technical Writing

Technical communication is a key element of a product‘s success. Clear and comprehensible software manuals and other instructional materials improve the customer experience and reduce risks. However, creating professional content is a difficult task. Companies may lack the necessary skills or the financial resources to produce such documents by themselves.

As a result, outsourcing appears to be a fantastic option. The advantages are numerous:

  • Professional technical writers have access to the proper knowledge and resources to produce documentation. They know how to deal with any kind of content, and they can adapt documents according to the target audience. Moreover, they can provide editing and reviewing services. This ensures the quality of the text. 
  • Experienced professional technical writers can produce user-friendly documentation, thus creating a positive effect on customers. This reinforces customer loyalty.
  • Outsourced technical writing is performed by professionals that are up to date with the latest trends of the industry. They also know the right tools to increase productivity.
  • Since technical writing requires a lot of time, outsourcing allows employees to focus on the core elements of the business.
  • The cost-saving aspect cannot be overlooked. For many companies, covering the salary, insurance and training of a full-time technical writer is simply out of the question.

India is one of the countries that has seen a major growth in technical writing degree programs and technical communication companies. According to Indeed, the average salary of a technical writer in India amounts to $7,060 per year. 

What About In-house Technical Writing?

Despite the benefits of outsourcing technical communication, some companies may be inclined to hire their own staff of technical authors. Although it represents a large investment, the nature of the content may persuade a business to look for an in-house professional instead of relocating work elsewhere, especially if such content is very specific to the company’s product and internal information.

Naturally, this alternative may take some time to be implemented. Apart from the technical writer recruitment process, companies have to set up a management system and acquire the right tools. But in the long term, the effort pays off. 

A Wise Choice

There’s no right or wrong in outsourcing or hiring. The decision whether to employ a single technical writer or turn to a freelancer, that is to say a team of experts, depends on the needs of the company. Establishing the desired solutions for the business is key to determining whether to outsource or to hire in-house.

To conclude, outsourcing and employing in-house can complement each other. A company could call a provider as a consultant, and hire a technical author to manage the project. In that way, it will have the expertise of the provider, and a full-time worker in the office.

To read more about technical writing, click here.