Technical writers at NI have one primary goal: enable NI customers to be successful with NI products. Improving customer success through helpful documentation requires us to engage in a variety of activities:
We explain how to use NI products to a large audience of engineers through print, online, and in-product documentation. These engineers span many different industries and have varying levels of expertise, so we must ensure that the content we create is helpful for every engineer.
We “info type” the content we create to set up a framework for efficient content reuse between document sets:
- Concept topics provide background information on a subject, feature, or product.
- Reference topics help users understand the technical details of a subject, feature, or product.
- Tutorial topics provide a step-by-step walk through of a procedure.
We work closely with several groups within the company, including:
- Engineering: We integrate into teams of engineers to gather information about their creations and create content to provide context and instructions for our customers.
- Marketing: When possible, we align with brand decisions from our marketing department so that our company’s content can have a cohesive aesthetic and tone.
- Management: We talk with our managers often to plan project work and track career growth. We also work with managers on other teams to understand project progress and get subject matter expert bandwidth for content reviews.
- Manufacturing: We work with the manufacturing department to make sure our content makes it into product shipping kits and into the hands of customers.
- Customer Education: NI provides formal training courses that are created by our customer education department. Technical writers collaborate with the customer education department to ensure our content is cohesive.
- Document Production: When we prepare to publish content, we go through a standard process with document production professionals to ensure our documents are error-free and ready for the public.
- Technical Illustration: We often collaborate with illustrators to create and review graphics for our documentation.
- Localization: Our content is sometimes localized into several different languages so we can help customers around the world in their native language. Our department’s style guide and best practices provide guidance for creating content that is easily localizable.
We can tackle many different types of tasks during any given work day:
- Write and edit technical content for several output formats (print, web, PDF, installed help)
- Architect and organize documentation sets by creating content plans and collaborating with other writers in the department
- Contribute to project management by coordinating with R&D project managers and other stakeholders
- Serve as a user advocate, perform usability testing and provide feedback on products and features created by R&D engineers
- Contribute to extracurricular activities and committees, such as recruiting or our internal conference (NITC), to help solve issues and drive initiatives
We enroll new technical writers in training over their first month to ensure each writer has the necessary skills to be successful on the job. Additional training is always available for those who are interested in further developing skills or growing their career:
- Technical writing standard tools
- HTML, XML, DITA content authoring
- Content Management System (CMS) use
- NI flagship applications (e.g., LabVIEW)
- Hardware basics
- Programming basics
- Professional development
NI products present new challenges for both your day-to-day work and your overall career. Because NI products are more complex than the typical consumer electronics you might be familiar with, it can take a little time to get up to speed. As you are forced to explore, test, and experiment with the product you support, you are constantly learning new things about its underlying technology and methodology.