7 June 2020

WalkMe: The Demise of the Technical Writer?

We know writing marketing copy is different from writing technical instructions, but WalkMe's advert sent the hairs on the back of my neck upright. They may have come up with a catchy tag line, but it dismisses an entire profession's experience and expertise.
 
WalkMe advert

For the uninitiated, WalkMe combines step by step guidance and automated processes to enable users to complete tasks. By overlaying information in "tip-balloons", processes are broken down into step-by-step instructions. It also collects data on users' behaviours and action patterns, which helps users complete online tasks without leaving the screen to watch video tutorials, or read a help file.

This is all admirable. As a Technical Writer, I am all for providing the information a user needs in a format they can easily access. In fact as someone who's looked into WalkMe, it can be a very useful tool in the Technical Writer's armoury. But to dismiss the process of producing instructions as "easy" is disingenuous at best.

Admittedly the advert isn't suggesting WalkMe is easy to use. As someone who's only looked at their marketing, I couldn't comment on that. Maybe it is. WalkMe uses elements of AI. Whilst this has come a long way in recent years, it still has some way to go. Instead, the advert's tag line suggests the writing process is easy. As the product integrates with the app and automatically produces copy, you could say this is true.

The trouble is anyone worth their salt, Technical Writer or not, wouldn't let a plug and play application deliver content to users without checking it first. Testing the output before releasing it to the world, is as important as the content's production. It is at that point that a human's soft skills can improve things.

WalkMe has its place in delivering technical documentation, but it is wrong to suggest that an automated tool on its own can replace a human. Whether it is changing style or correcting mistakes, a human can produce a more rounded and therefore better experience.

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