A lot of people frequently ask me about the difference between Technical Writing and Instructional Design. I had written a post about this earlier and also argued that you require more or less the same kind of skills for both these fields and it was completely my standpoint on these two professions.
In this post, I am going to talk about the differences between the job of a Technical Writer and an Instructional Designer, as people look at it today. So here we go!
Technical Writing also called Information Development pertains to the software/hardware industries and basically involves writing documents for software/hardware products. Technical Writers in a software/hardware companies design/develop documents such as:
- Help/Instruction Manuals (Open any application in your system and go to Help. You should see a help manual)
- Installation Guides
- API Manuals
- Troubleshooting Guides
Technical Writers work with:
- Standard templates
- Documentation Guidelines
These days Technical Writers also design and develop:
Technical Writers who work in the Marketing Communication department design and develop:
- Technical Whitepapers
- Technical Blogs
- Case Studies
- Marketing Presentations
Technical Writers use the following tools:
If you are applying for a Technical Writing job (fresher position) in India, you will be tested for your:
- Research Skills
- Know-how of technical writing tools
- Language and Grammar Skills
- Aptitude for Technology
If you want to become a Technical Writer, you must really be comfortable and understand technology. For example, if you are working on a BPM product, you will not be able to write effective documentation without getting a good understanding of concepts such as Web Services, SOA, Mapping and so on. And remember SME support will be very less.
Today the job market in India for Technical Writers is really good because I see a lot of openings everywhere. Technical Writing is also a high paying job because it pertains to the software industry.
Instructional Designing is about designing a training approach or a training solution depending on the requirements of a specific target audience. Instructional Designing pertains to a variety of industries including healthcare, aviation, software and umpteen others.
Instructional Designers design and develop:
Instructional Designers might or might not work with:
- Standard Templates
- Design guidelines/standards
Instructional Designers use the following tools:
If you are applying for Instructional Design job (fresher position) in India, you will be tested for:
- Instructional Design concepts
- Good writing skills
- Good storyboarding skills
- Creative skills
- Visualization skills
- Research skills
If you want to be an Instructional Designer, you should understand Instructional Design concepts/principles and have creative skills (depends on the requirement of the training material). The job market for Instructional Designer is improving and better than what we saw during recession.