A lot is talked about how domain knowledge is essential for technical writers in today’s industry. Before even we go into detail into why is it important, let us first understand what you mean when you say “Domain Knowledge”.
A standard definition of Domain knowledge is that it is knowledge about the environment in which the target system operates. It is critical for a technical writer to acquire knowledge about a particular domain because a technical writer often acts as a bridge between the end-users and software developers. A Domain is generally defined as an area of interest or an area which you are communicating about. A domain is also defined as a particular environment that you are already working in or interested to work.
As a technical writer, you are required to understand the market specifics that vary from different geographies. You need to understand the overall trends in the market, as well as technology and economic trends that could impact product performance, who are the competitors, what are their strengths/weaknesses, and where are they heading. All this information and much more constitute to “Domain Knowledge”. But, you must be wondering in your mind, why at all it is essential to gain domain knowledge when you have Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to do the job for you. As a technical writer, your job is to develop documentation for the software. The rest shall be left for the SMEs to validate it. Then, why has it become so essential today to gain domain knowledge?
Agrees Mohan Babu K. in his article that business domain knowledge is extremely important particularly in an offshore environment.
So, gone are the days when you were just writing just for software. Today, at one stage when you are writing for software and on the other, you would be also writing for a financial institution.
Why Domain knowledge?
Acquiring knowledge of a domain always helps you to add variety to your profile. It adds some spice to your resume. It is better when you acquire knowledge in more than just one domain. There are various business domains where you can acquire knowledge on such as:
- Human Capital Management (HCM)
- Industrial & Distribution
- Electronics / Semiconductors
- Building & Public Utility
- Consulting/Professional Services
- Educational Institutions
- Hardware and Software
And, the above list is endless. However, it is utmost essential that you master in one particular domain and acquire knowledge on each of the other domains. This will help you to stay upbeat with the current market scenario. But, the question is that Is domain knowledge an essential requirement for a technical writer?
Knowledge of a particular domain (s) is considered as a secondary requirement for any job opportunity of technical writers. The first and foremost requirement is to write clearly, and an ability to grasp the new concept (s). So, if you have this ability to grasp any new topic or domain, you can do a wonderful job as a technical writer. Thus, I feel that Domain knowledge is not a primary requirement for technical writers. Knowledge of a domain helps you to interact with the SMEs in a better manner thereby fortifying your interpersonal relationship within the organization. It also gives a confidence among your client who feels a sense of satisfaction when you are able to understand what the client is trying to say. It happens sometimes, when a client speaks about a concept and you are not aware of. But, if you have knowledge of the subject being spoken about by the client, this gives a level of confidence to not only the client but to you even. In other words, remember the golden rule, “Domains stay but the technologies change thereafter.”