Technical … writing … what?
One of the challenges our profession faces, is coming up with a suitable term to describe itself. Technical writing only tells part of the story, as it doesn’t cover the visual aspect of information design. The Institute of Scientific and Technical Communication uses the phrase “technical communication”, and IBM uses “Information Development’. These are more encompassing, but they can be harder for people sitting outside of the profession to understand.
What’s delivered can be tricky to define as well. These days, it can misleading to think only in terms of paper manuals, online Help, or even a document itself. What we produce could appear as sentence on a dialog screen, a pop-up definition on a web page, a callout in an onboarding screen, as a subtitle to a video walkthrough, and so on. So some organisations, such as the Government Digital Service, use the terms “content design” and “content development’.
“User Assistance” is another term that’s used. It gives more of a hint of what’s provided at the end of the technical communication process. We assist users. We help them when they get stuck. Ideally, we help them avoid getting stuck in the first place.
On the Cherryleaf website Home page, we say “we create content that helps people use a product or complete a task. It can stop them getting stuck, frustrated and making mistakes.”
We also use a Venn diagram based on a definition from Mark Baker. One circle contains “What users want to do.” Another circle contains “Things users cannot figure out for themselves.” We bridge the gap between the two.
We have technical knowledge and communication skills. We apply these, in most cases, by writing words.
Recognition from our peers
Our staff have written articles for
- The Society for Technical Communication's (STC) Intercom magazine
- The Institute of Scientific and Technical Communicator's Communicator journal
- tekom's TCWorld magazine
We've also written books on technical communication.
We've presented webinars for Adobe, Madcap Software and the STC. We've also spoken at many conferences around the world.
We also have close links to the main software vendors. For example:
- Adobe asked Cherryleaf to write two whitepapers on trends in technical communication.
- Madcap Software invited us to speak at their MadWorld conferences.
- Atlassian asked us to take part in one of their documentation sprints.
We've trained many technical communicators, too.
Contributors to books
Cherryleaf’s staff are contributors to the following books:
The Language of Technical Communication. 2016. XML Press.
Current Practices and Trends in Technical Communication. Q4 2017. ISTC Books.
Our vision and values
Our vision and values are:
- Content is there for a purpose. You need the right information for your audience.
- User Assistance is changing. It’s not about dull manuals no-one reads.
- Take a vendor-neutral view. We want to recommend the best solution for your needs.
- Offer a range of services. We can still help even when you want to do a lot of it yourself.
About our clients
The people and organisations we work with include:
Software, medical equipment, IT and other technology companies that are developing new products. They need technical, user, compliance or training documentation.
Managers responsible for policies, procedures, and other compliance documents. They need clear and simple instructions and advice that works.
HR Professionals who need to recruit a technical communicator. The job titles can be Technical Author, Technical Writer, and Documentation Manager.
Professional technical communicators. They want to improve their skills, or they need a technical communicator to work with them.
People starting their careers as a technical communicator. They want to improve their skills.
Developers wanting to improve their writing skills. If they don’t know how to write well, the final product can suffer.
What’s in a name?
There’s no exciting story how we came up with Cherryleaf’s name. We share our name with a former naval ship, an Indian restaurant in Essex, and a small coffee shop in Norwich.
The logo is the silhouette of a cherry on a leaf. It was created by Dominic Negus Design Consultants.
Working with EU27 countries
We have plans in place to set up a sister company in an EU27 country. This means we will still be able to work for organisations in countries that are in the European Union.
Ellis is a Consulting Technical Communicator and Director at Cherryleaf. He has been working in technical communication since the early 1990s.
He has a degree in Business Studies. He is also:
- Member of the Institute of Scientific and Technical Communicators
- Associate of the Institution of Engineering and Technology
- Affiliate of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers
- An ISTC Management Council member
He is a regular conference speaker on technical communication topics.
Ginny has a background as a skilled trainer and information designer. She has over twenty years experience in teaching and training throughout the world. Ginny has extensive project management skills. She also has considerable experience using the main technical authoring tools.
Ginny is fluent in Spanish.
- An MSc (in Information Systems)
- A BA (in Spanish Studies)
- A RSA TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) certificate
Ginny manages the development of Cherryleaf’s training courses.
Carol Johnston MA (Cantab)
Carol Johnston, who was one of Cherryleaf’s original founders, died on 22 January 2012. Please see the eulogy on our blog.
Registered in England 4575705
VAT Number 803 2288 54
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