Six Emerging Trends within the Technical Communication Industry

We recently asked two of our UK Technical Communication Awards judges, Alison Peck (Director of Clearly Stated Ltd and current President of the ISTC) and Ellis Pratt (Director of Cherryleaf), for their thoughts on the emerging trends within the Technical Communication Industry, also drawing on insights from recent UKTC Awards entries.  They have noticed six key emerging trends – here they are:

  1. Growth of Application Programme Interface (API) Documentation
    The growth of APIs has seen a corresponding growth in the need for API documentation and interactive document environments.  Ellis Pratt says “Without the documentation, it’s virtually impossible to use an API, as developers need to know what resources are available, where they are, and what parameters they will accept.”
  2.  Increase in Use of Agile Methodologies
    Agile methodologies are a set of principles for software development in which requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration between self-organising, cross-functional teams.  Alison Peck says “The biggest impacts on [technical communicators] are in the working practices and products of our customer base. For example, there is a steady increase in the percentage of software development teams adopting agile methodologies, which affects technical communicators specifically working in the documentation of software.”
  3. Increased Use of Mobile Technology
    Alison goes on to say “the increased use of mobile technology has made changes to our work, as has the (general) improvement to user interface design. Rather than having to give detailed instructions, I’m more likely to explain the outcome of an action or give guidance on when it should be done. People using products and services also expect them to be more tailored to their requirements, so being able to create supporting products (help, tutorials, guidance) that can be tailored to those same requirements is becoming more important. A one-size-fits-all approach is much less acceptable now than it was a few years ago.”
  4. Move towards a less formal tone
    Ellis states “As technology becomes more part of our daily lives, we’ve seen a move towards a less formal tone in some types of documentation. This is a consequence of documentation being part of the pre-sales process, and users are generally less scared of technology than they used to be.”
  5. Embedding User Assistance
    Ellis adds “We’re also seeing a move toward embedding user assistance into the application itself, without the need to go to the docs. We’ll be seeing more developments with Conversational User Interfaces, on-boarding screens and micro-content. This is a consequence of users being reluctant to admit they’re stuck and going to the Help.”
  6. Navigating via Search
    Ellis has also spotted a trend within the ISTC’s annual UK Technical Communication Awards entries: “The awards entries have reflected the trend towards navigating via Search, rather than via hyperlinks. I’ve also noticed a move towards content in Responsive Web format, which can be viewed on mobile phones, tablets and laptops.”

If you’d like to enter the UKTC Awards, the industry’s key platform which recognises the value of clear, concise and effective information relating to scientific or technological products or services, please send us your submission here. The entry deadline date is 30th June 2016, so hurry!

Galyna Key,
Manager, UK Technical Communication Awards

PS for all updates, feel free to check the #UKTCAwards hashtag on twitter…