Harjot Dhodi asked, “What is the difference in the role of: Document Architect, Template Designer, Writer, Technical Editor, and Production Editor? Can a person be told to handle all these roles?” I’ll try to examine these roles one at a time, and then answer the final question last.
Document Architect – Typically this person has a “big picture” view of the documentation and how to organize it to fit the user’s needs. This role involves organizing, dictating what topics will be written, structuring the overall deliverables (especially if there are multiple deliverables such as online help and printed documentation). I would say this role is for a more experienced person who has been with the company a while and knows the business needs for the documentation.
Template Designer – This person knows the documentation tools well enough so that they can maintain and design templates used over and over for consistent documentation while authoring so that the out put look and feel is the same over and over. For example, the role would involve designing FrameMaker templates for books and chapters and styles for the authors to use while writing.
Writer - This person creates the content. They should be familiar with using the templates and the style guide for the company.
Technical Editor – This person reviews the content and may also maintain the style guide. Some times the term “technical” in an editor role means they will check the documents for consistency with the product and technical accuracy throughout the document. Grammar and style rules checking is also part of the responsibilities of this role.
Production Editor – This phrase is less familiar to me. I would imagine that this person reviews output for any errors and does link checking for online deliverables. I suppose it really depends on what deliverables are produced. The Production Editor may need to check CDs to ensure the documentation deliverable operates correctly on the CD. There could be a lot of editing and testing and checking on certain production deliverables.
Can a person be told to handle all these roles ?
I think one experienced person could handle all these roles, and a single person could learn one role at a time and just keep adding each role to their abilities. In my company we do not have separate editors so we must review each other’s content. We all write content, we all edit content, and we have a document architect and production editor who is most familiar with the content and production tool.
Does this help answer questions about documentation roles? I’d love to hear feedback from my blog readers as well – what have I missed or what additional roles might there be placed upon one person?