Creating a technical description is a delicate balancing act.
Whether you are describing a product or explaining a process, you need to understand the simplest way possible to communicate its value to your target audience without wasting their time.
But how? Keep reading.
For most people, the word “Technical” immediately translates to challenging, complex, or needing an intense level of brainwork to figure out; however that is not always the case.
Contrary to popular opinion, technical descriptions are not as complex as they sound. A straightforward way to put it is simply describing the technical part of a product or showing how to use a product or process for people with no technical background in that field or specialty to comprehend better.
In this blog post, we will explore what technical description is and how to write them well. We will also look at some examples of technical description to see how it is used in different contexts.
What are technical descriptions?
Imagine you were looking to change your phone and someone randomly suggests, “Hey! The iPhone 14 has such a great camera. You should get one”
While their claim might be debatable, your following line of questions would most likely be “Why? How is the camera so good? What about it is so different? Plus do I need to get one?”
It's in scenarios like these that Technical descriptions come in to prove very useful and a technically descriptive answer would go something along the lines of ;
“The iPhone 14 Pro has three rear cameras: a main wide-angle camera, an ultra-wide and a telephoto camera with 3x optical zoom and a 48-megapixel camera plus Action Mode, which makes video movements look better when you record them….”
This immediately paints a picture in your mind of why the iPhone 14 is probably a good buy. You piece each feature with the value you will get from it as you try to understand the components that went into the product and what makes it different from previous editions.
And you could read all of these specs and decide to stick to your current phone afterward, perhaps you end up not being convinced enough or you decide to try a different phone brand.
The technical description is the most simple way to talk about something technical, plus guide and educate a user on a product or a process.
It is a genre of technical writing that provides a detailed description on how a product or system works. Technical descriptions can be found in product manuals, online documentation, and other technical resources.
A Technical Description may be a stand-alone document or be a part of a larger document, or it may contain several pages of separate documents. It all depends on the goal of your technical documentation.
Technical description can be either one of the following:
- A clear and concise explanation of a product or process purpose
- A step-by-step guide to using a product or a completing a process
- A description of a product's or process components and how they work together
- Troubleshooting information for common user problems with a product or process.
Types of technical descriptions with examples
When writing a technical description, you need to remember that you're not just describing what something looks like or how it works—you're also communicating its functions and features.
So that takes things up a notch from how you’d typically approach normal writing.
There are three main types of technical description, and either type of your technical description would fall into one of these:
1. Process Description
This is where you describe how a product works or how a process is carried out.
An excellent example of a Technical Process description would be showing a new iPhone user how to upload a picture to their Cloud or even Creating technical descriptions on how to use workplace tools and equipment better, like in this Scribe offering tips for Windows users who switch to a Mac
2. Product Description
This focuses on the product's physical attributes and covers shape, size, dimensions, weight, materials, and performance specs. It is a much more specific type of document that includes detailed information about the product.
So let's take a look at some examples of Product technical descriptions. Here we have a product that's designed to keep your room floors clean.
"Electric Spin Scrubber with 4 replaceable brush heads and an adjustable extension."
And another look at the Apple iPhone 6
"The iPhone 6 has a 4.7-inch Retina HD display and is powered by an A8 processor. It has 16GB of storage capacity and supports LTE connectivity."
A technical description for a Digital Camera.
"The Canon EOS Rebel T6i is a digital SLR camera with a 24.2 megapixel CMOS sensor. It has a 3-inch LCD screen and an ISO range of 100-12800. It can shoot full HD video at 30 fps and has built-in WiFi for easy sharing."
3. Concept Definition
This is defining words or concepts that help a reader understand a technical process or product better. In these scenarios, explaining certain words or concepts is essential for your audience to understand the point you are trying to make, as it ties back to your central message.
Benefits of writing technical descriptions
Whether you are writing for employees or customers, technical descriptions provide a framework to break down complex processes into easy-to-digest bits
Everything is easier with contexts and answers to why things are the way they are, what they can do and how to use them.
The primary benefit of technical description is that you simplify things, and you can help more people have a clear understanding of what a particular process or product is about and how to interact with it.
Because you need to know your audience to write for them, writing technical descriptions helps you understand your audience's behavior patterns better and the unforeseen challenges they may be facing with your product. It helps you uncover information gaps they need a little more help understanding to eventually be able to carry out the desired action on their own. This would make a positive difference for your business or employees.
How to write an effective technical description
Depending on what you are about to write or who you are writing for, It can be a bit difficult to know how to start when writing a technical description.
But it is essential to remember that the purpose of writing a Technical description is to help your target audience better understand a particular product or process.
To do this, you need a strategy, so here are a few steps to get started:
- Know your audience: If you are writing a technical description for your employees, you will use a different tone of voice or approach than when you are writing for consumers and trying to get them to buy a product or service you offer. Knowing your audience allows you to write to answer the questions they might have hence creating a very effective technical documentation.
- Be upfront on Results: A person is likelier to continue reading your technical description if they are confident it can help them solve a problem, learn a process or use a product, so it's important to prepare your reader’s mind from the start on what to expect.
- Be knowledgeable on the topic you're writing on: It’s harder to convince someone on a process or product you don’t know enough on. Because, in most case scenarios, technical descriptions are written to be helpful guides, it's crucial to learn and get familiar with the process of the product you are writing for. This would allow you to cover the same challenges a reader might encounter with the product or process. The more you know the better you’ll write.
Need a simpler way to Capture and Create Technical Descriptions? Check out Scribe's auto-generated step-by-step guides.
4. Create an Outline : Outlines are good for dealing with writer's block or not knowing how to start. With outlines, you can immediately visualize where you are going with the technical description you intend to write and follow through.
Technical description outline
Here is a simple, easy to use outline for writing a Technical Description.
So it’s easy for you to write one whenever there’s a need to; keep this in mind:
- Description: Start by introducing the product or service; write the product's full name, and describe what it looks like (size, shape, color, etc.); what does it consist of? Describe its components, Parts and necessary details.
- Explain the Product: Here, cover how the product works and fulfill its functions. Explain what it is and what it does, if possible how each component works together to enhance the product or process. Highlight any unique features or benefits.
- Conclude with a summary of both product features and processes. Close out with references or additional materials and background information where possible.
- Don’t be Boring— The word technical already paints a picture of “Oh this is going to be full of terminologies and technical jargon” but it doesn’t have to be. Just because the writing is technical doesn’t mean you can’t add a different twist to things. Your technical descriptions should be engaging.
Don't just list facts about the product—make your reader want to learn more. Write in an interactive, clear, concise, and engaging manner to hook your reader. You can even engage in the use of animated images to explain specific processes, use interactive fonts, infographics, or even videos. You will achieve the same goal but also entertain and thrill your readers.
Today, technical descriptions are done more creatively and some companies now use videos to make the information as clear as possible.
For example, iPhone manufacturing Giant, Apple, hosts a live event yearly to unveil its latest gadgets. A perfect example of Technical description done in the most engaging and entertaining manner.
This event pulls millions of viewers yearly to Apple’s Youtube page where the Unveiling happens. By doing this, they are able to bridge the gap between those with the technical know-how of their products and those without. This report from 2021 shares that the phone manufacturing company is worth over 2.08 trillion dollars.
- Proofread and edit your work: Don't use jargon or technical terms your reader won't understand. Use clear and familiar language, and be sure to define unfamiliar terms. It always helps to get a second eye to look at your work as the last thing you want is a mumbled up technical description. It ruins the experience and increases the chance of your readers not going through all you’ve written.
- Don’t stop updating: Don’t keep stale information in your descriptions. Your technical descriptions should be accurate at all times . Make sure that you're accurate in your portrayal of the product and that you're not leaving out any critical details. Update your descriptions as innovations or changes happen to make them remain ever relevant
While there are so many technical documentation tools that offer a wide range of features, at different price points, and with various levels of technical complexity.
You want a solution that can help you with so much freedom to save, store, edit and share your technical descriptions with zero friction for even the most technical and non technical members of your team or user base to figure out.
If that's what you are looking for, then try Scribe.
Scribe is a process documentation tool that allows you capture your screen to auto-generate a step-by-step guide. You can process Docs, Training Manuals, with Scribes, text, videos and more.
See what some of our users have to say about Scribe.
In conclusion, the technical description is an important way for all technical professionals to communicate their ideas, products, and processes better. Still, it is also a medium for non-technical professionals to understand the technicalities of everyday life, from the most simple to the most complex problems they will love to understand and know how to solve on their own.
In this article, we have covered in detail how to write an excellent technical description, so if you need to write a technical description; you can start now with Scribe