Last year I had the great privilege of being a web copy writer in Vancouver for a major international electronics retailer to produce a couple of technology writing articles for their electronics equipment. Their Web site was successful with an area they used to feature products for their suppliers, and they decided it was time to make it a regular thing. It wasn’t quite like blogging, but the idea of regular, frequent updates on the company site about the products they sell can be likened to the principle of blogging, and refreshing content so that users will come back and want to use your site.
Each article had to follow a set of guidelines for consistency, which was great. It showed me the number of words I would write, where the graphics would go, what would pop up on the page, and so on, so that I could make sure, as a writer, to see to it that my writing would fit with what the graphic designer and web master would need to do.
I was very impressed to read about the company writing guidelines, and I learned a lot from it. For example, the style and tone of writing is carefully thought out for consistency throughout the organization. The way they use some phrases in bold and some in regular font also is pre-determined. I was brought on for just a few pieces because they needed someone to release the load off of the writer they had (it can get hard to write about the same types of products over and over again, so variety was needed). I was contact because my writing style made technology easy to understand and was casual enough that an every day person could read through my sentences. I let the Creative Director know that the reason I wrote like that is because technology was hard for me to understand, and to be honest, I’m not THAT technical. But I am a person that tries to figure things out. And when I figure things out (like a puzzle), my technology writing can only explain them in a way that my own brain needs to be able to understand them. So I have to simplify things for myself in a way that I could understand, as though I know nothing about the topic, so that I can make sure other people can grasp it too…people who also have no idea what this techy stuff is all about.
My aim as a technology writer in Vancouver is to make technology mean something to the reader; to bring out its benefit, it’s feature and what it does that is useful, not just deliver on specs and numbers. Being a marketer and having gone to journalism school also gives me this ability, to be able to write about a subject in a way that assumes the reader does not have background information on the topic. That way you can ensure everyone will be able to understand it, and if it’s a product, will want it too.
I only ended up doing two of these articles before the company decided to hire someone full time to do this in house. So it was a short lived, but fun stint that I’m glad I got to participate in!
The Creative Director was able to write me a short recommendation:
“I came across Joyce online while looking for a qualified tech writer for a few freelance projects … The jobs she completed for us were top quality, well-written and delivered in a professional and timely manner. I highly recommend Joyce – she is fully capable of taking on any writing challenge you throw her way.”
So here goes! Here are some screenshots of the technology writing work I had to do (click on an image to see a larger view):
Technology writer’s assignment 1: The Epson Printer Showcase