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Webmaster Skills for Digital Writers
In the digital age, technical writers, may find it increasingly necessary to acquire certain web development and webmaster skills to enhance their abilities to convey information effectively. While these skills may not be their primary focus, they can significantly augment their capabilities. Here are practical web development and webmaster skills, software, procedures, and practices that technical writers should consider.
HTML and CSS: Technical writers should have at least a basic understanding of HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). These fundamental web technologies underpin most web content. Familiarity with HTML allows writers to format and structure online documents effectively, while CSS enables them to control the visual presentation.
Markdown: Knowledge of Markdown, a lightweight markup language, is valuable for writers who create content for online platforms, as it simplifies formatting and is widely used in platforms like GitHub and some blogging systems.
Content Management Systems (CMS): Proficiency in popular CMS platforms like WordPress, Drupal, or Joomla can be advantageous. Understanding how to create and manage content within these systems can simplify the publishing process and allow writers to work collaboratively with webmasters. CMSes simplify much of web design, development, and implementation by making themes, plugins, and updates easily available.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization): Understanding SEO principles can help writers create content that is discoverable and ranks well in search engine results. This involves keyword research, meta tags, and optimizing content structure.
Responsive Design: In today's mobile-centric world, technical writers should understand the basics of responsive web design. This ensures that their content adapts to various screen sizes and devices.
User Experience (UX) Principles: Grasping UX design concepts can help writers create content that is user-friendly and intuitive. Understanding user personas, user journeys, and usability testing can enhance the quality of online documentation.
Basic Image Editing: Basic image editing skills using tools like Adobe Photoshop or free alternatives like GIMP can be useful for creating or enhancing visuals in content.
Basic Data Analysis: Familiarity with spreadsheet software (e.g., Microsoft Excel, Google Sheets) and data visualization tools can be beneficial for writers who need to work with data-driven content.
Content Analytics Tools: Knowledge of tools like Google Analytics or content management system analytics can help writers track the performance of their content and make data-driven decisions.
Email Marketing Tools: Understanding email marketing platforms (e.g., MailChimp, Constant Contact) and email campaign best practices is important for writers involved in email content creation.
Web Accessibility: Writers should be aware of web accessibility guidelines (e.g., WCAG) to ensure that their content is inclusive and accessible to all users, including those with disabilities.
Cybersecurity Awareness: Basic knowledge of cybersecurity best practices, such as strong password management and recognizing phishing attempts, is important to protect sensitive content and data.
Content Localization: Understanding the principles of content localization and how to adapt content for different languages and cultures is valuable for global audiences.
Video and Multimedia Tools: Familiarity with video editing software (e.g., Adobe Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro) and multimedia tools (e.g., Adobe Audition) can be advantageous for creating multimedia content.
Social Media Platforms: Awareness of various social media platforms and their content requirements is important for writers involved in social media marketing and content promotion.
In addition to the technical skills related to web development and content creation, technical writers in the digital age should possess logistical skills that enable them to effectively manage their work environment and communication. Here are some key logistical skills and areas of proficiency that technical writers should consider:
Professional Networking: Building a network within the industry can be invaluable. Attending conferences, joining online forums or social media groups related to technical writing, and connecting with peers and professionals can provide valuable insights and opportunities for collaboration.
Software Installation: Technical writers should be capable of independently installing and configuring the software necessary for their work. This includes authoring tools, content management systems, and other relevant software.
Version Control: Familiarity with version control systems like Git is valuable for collaborative writing projects. It allows writers to track changes, collaborate seamlessly, and maintain document versions. Wiki software, including MediaWiki, also allow for collaboration and version tracking.
Project Management Tools: Familiarity with project management tools such as Trello, Asana, or Jira can help in organizing tasks and tracking project progress.
Email Organization: Efficiently managing emails is crucial. Technical writers should be adept at organizing emails, setting up filters and labels, and prioritizing communication with colleagues and clients.
Email Etiquette: Understanding professional email etiquette is essential when communicating with team members, clients, and stakeholders.
Task Prioritization: Technical writers often have multiple projects with varying deadlines. Prioritizing tasks and managing time effectively is essential to meet deadlines and maintain quality.
Time Tracking Tools: Using time tracking tools can help writers monitor their work hours and identify areas for improvement in productivity.
File Organization: Maintaining a well-organized file system for documents, images, and other digital assets is critical for efficiency and retrieval.
Video Conferencing: Proficiency in using video conferencing tools like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Google Meet is essential for remote collaboration.
Document Collaboration: Knowledge of tools like Google Docs, Microsoft SharePoint, or collaborative editing features in content management systems is vital for simultaneous document editing and feedback.
references & notes
- Again, resources and training abound for dozens of CMSes, particularly on YouTube.
- Enge, Eric; Spencer, Stephan; Stricchiola, Jessie C (2022). The Art of SEO: Mastering Search Engine Optimization. Sebastopol, CA: O'Reilly.
- Krug, Steve (2014). Don't Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability. San Francisco: New Riders.
|Written: 2002, 2022; Revised: 09-21-2023; Version: Beta 0.7