Detechnicalization: Essential Part Of Technical Writing

I don’t know if this is true or not, but Albert Einstein once said:

“You don’t really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother.”

If you ask me what Detechnicalization is, I would probably refer to this quote. When you create a product (any kind, like cars, gadgets, software, etc.), you need to show people how to use it.

We know that everyone’s knowledge base is different, and they are not at the same level. Because of that, we need to write our guidelines as simple as possible.

Detechnicalization (in this term) refers to the ability to break down technical subjects and write them in a simple, easy-to-understand way. But how?!

How to Detechnicalize a concept

There are techniques for breaking down complex and technical concepts and turning them into easy-to-understand content. Of course, business-to-business scenarios may differ, but we can create a checklist for it:

👉 Think like your audience

By putting yourself in the audience’s position (or maybe their shoes 😉), you gain the ability to think like them. By thinking like your audience, you can understand how they learn. This helps you create guidelines that they will find easy to follow.

But how can I do that? I’m not a psychologist!

Actually, we don’t need a psychologist. We just need data! We need to know more about our audience by using their data. For example, if we understand what our clients do for a living, we can simplify concepts by using examples from their jobs that they can relate to.

Below, we will review some basic rules for knowing your audience (by examples). This will help you understand them better.

  1. Review everything we know: Imagine you are a software company that has just released a new application. Your target audience is students. We assume that students are not familiar with most of the concepts in the software industry. By realizing this, we understand that to create useful guidelines and documentation, we should explain every term we use. How to install, where to install, the names and functions of the elements in the UI, when to use them, etc. All of this is important and should be included in the documentation.
  2. Learn from the past: Ten months ago, we released new software, and after two months, we received many support tickets about how to use certain features. That was the moment we realized our documentation and guidelines weren’t informative enough. As a result, our support team was overwhelmed by the number of tickets. After this, we understood where our audience needed help and how we could make our guidelines clearer. For example, when we used the term ‘High availability,’ we didn’t realize that our audience needed more information about what it means and in what scenarios it would help them. Now we know.
  3. Take surveys: Taking surveys is always a good way to understand your audience’s knowledge base. Create some surveys based on your services and invite your audience to fill them out. Offering a discount or special service will make them happy and more willing to participate. By doing this, you will first understand your audience and then create better guidelines.
  4. Monitoring: By monitoring feedback, comments, and tickets, you can identify where your audience is struggling to understand a concept. This way, you can identify the issues and work to resolve them.

👉 Write Simple and Consistency

In writing, I always suggest following a standard layout. This ensures all your documents and guidelines are consistent. It makes reading easier and more straightforward.

Use simple language and avoid writing in an academic or scientific style. Use simple words and short phrases. Probably not all of your clients are native English speakers, so you must make it easy for everyone to read.

Storytelling is another important factor. Writing in a step-by-step way makes following and reading more engaging. To give you a simple idea about writing using storytelling techniques, I will create a checklist of what you should do:

  1. Start with a problem: Why did you develop a new product? What was the problem before your product? Describe it using real-world examples.
  2. Introduce yourself: After discussing the problems, it’s time to present a solution. Introduce yourself and explain your solution, highlighting how it addresses the previously mentioned problem.
  3. Write about features: When the client discovers that your product is life-saving, they will want to read more about your product and its features. So now it’s time to properly write about your product. Make a list of your features and then describe each one individually.
  4. Write about how to use it: After introducing your product, you should explain how to use it. You can try two methods:
    1. Discuss previous solutions and show how this new product solves the problem more easily and efficiently (in action).
    2. Write about how to use the product and don’t mention anything else.
  5. Make pros and cons: Although almost no companies criticize themselves, you can make your content more interesting by finishing with a pros and cons list of your product and other solutions. This makes you bold and confident.

👉 Visualization

These days, more people prefer watching over reading. Unfortunately, that’s true, and as writers, we can’t fight it. Visualization is a wonderful tool for learning. And we need to use it for simplifying concepts.

To do this, take visualization seriously and use it. For example, if you are a software company, creating tutorial videos can be very helpful for using the applications you develop. If you manufactured a new vacuum cleaner with advanced technology that uses less electricity and has more power, demonstrate this with charts.

Visualization is a powerful and understandable way to keep your audience informed.

👉 Let them try

You can’t truly understand your skills until you put them into practice. So, if you want your audience to feel comfortable with your product, give them a chance to use it while they learn.

For example, if you are teaching your audience a concept related to your software application, provide them with test access to the app. Make it clear in the documentation that they can use this access while learning.

Some concepts are really hard to learn, but when you actually work with them, they become easier to understand.

From my personal experience learning how to drive, I watched many videos on YouTube and read various blog posts. But I didn’t truly understand how cars move until I tried it myself. Once I gave it a shot, the car started to move. (Not an ideal example 😅).

Conclusion

As a technical writer, my main job is to simplify complex concepts for different audiences. This isn’t easy, but it can be learned. Understand how your audience thinks and learns. Get to know them and write in a simple way.

In this blog post, I’ve shown you some tips on how to de-technicalize complex concepts and explain them in a way that even your grandmother can understand relativity 😉

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *