GDS wants to boost technical writing skills across Whitehall

Written by Rebecca Hill on 12 January 2017 in News

Government digital teams need to make more use of technical writers to help technology teams and allow others to concentrate on transformation, a Government Digital Service staffer has said.

GDS blog reveals plans to recruit technical writers at MoJ - Photo credit: Fotolia

Technical writers aim to create clear, accessible guidance on the services and systems created by government development teams. They work with content designers and technical architects to produce documents that help others understand the new services and share best practice.

There are currently four technical writers at GDS, but there is a growing interest in the field and plans to increase the number of writers in both this central team and in other departments.

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Jen Lambourne, one of the four GDS technical writers, said in a blogpost that the GDS team has started working more closely with other departments to improve how they share technical knowledge with users and within their teams.

As part of this work, she said she had spent a week at the Ministry of Justice, which is leading a £1bn transformation programme that will see the justice system make a “wholesale shift” to digital.

Lambourne said that the department has a lot of technology-related content that needs to be accessible to everyone across the department, and that it wants to share its best practice with the rest of government.

However, the department does not have a full-time technical writer and asked Lambourne to come in to assess how much of its work needed one, and how to get the best out of a new recruit.

“It was easy to see how a dedicated technical writer would be able to help create and organise that content, freeing technical architects and others to concentrate on digitally transforming the justice system,” she said.

The department is now planning to hire a full-time technical writer, she said, adding that GDS was planning to do the same – these jobs would be advertised on the Civil Service Jobs website soon, she said.

In addition, she said that technical writers in government are “starting to evolve their role”, and that they were building a community to support this move.

“As we continue to build services and systems across government, this type of content will only become more important. Government technology users should be able to rely on support and guidance to use that technology, especially if they didn’t build the technology themselves,” she said.

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