4 min read

The Role of Technical Writer and Content Architect

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Technical writers, remember creating standalone deliverables? —print manuals, CHM files, quick-start booklets, and the like? While documentation teams usually worked from a set of standards, the structure and presentation of the information in these deliverables were left to the writer.

Structured authoring and content reuse transformed technical communication. As the amount of information to organize grew exponentially on the web, it became clear that the standalone document paradigm was no longer a viable option. Clear and sustainable content strategies became a must with documentation teams looking to reuse content and reduce overhead and duplication.


This documentation need was met by an emerging specialization, information architecture (IA), also known as content architecture. Content architects consider all aspects of knowledge management, content development, and delivery when creating content architecture. Content architecture is a plan that details how to structure and present content libraries to their audiences.

These plans include strategies for meeting the following goals:

  • Optimize content findability and useability.
  • Balance logical structure with the way the specific user population thinks and works.

Simply put, the content architect draws up the blueprints for the content set, and the tech writers handle the construction.

Content architecture emerged as a discipline distinct from technical writing, largely because it frequently encompasses the complete online content strategy. Content architects influence the user experience by structuring how and where users find the tools and information they’re looking for.

For its emphasis on planning and organizing information, content architecture has been touted as a natural specialization for library science and UX professionals. While this is certainly true, it can be argued that few professionals are better suited to assume the content architect role than the technical writer.



To inform a content strategy, content architects must have a clear understanding of how the product being documented works, and how people use it. Good technical writers are skilled in working with developers, product managers, support engineers, and end users. From these sources, they gather information to gain a clear picture of product use cases and task workflows. They can combine these varying perspectives to present content in ways that are both logical and effective.

Established technical writers already have this key content architecture skill in their toolboxes.



Technical writers have first-hand experience with content structure, whether planning the structure for new documentation sets or working within an established structure. Technical writers know how to structure the content for the following use cases:

  • Multiple outputs (print, WebHelp, PDF, and HTML)
  • Multiple devices (desktop, smartphone, tablet)

They know how to tailor content structures for different audiences and user roles. For example, end-user content may break tasks and procedures down into manageable chunks, while documentation for system administrators may be more workflow-oriented.

Experienced technical writers make these kinds of distinctions with relative ease.



  • What needs are we meeting with this content?
  • What goals will it accomplish?
  • Where can content be reused so it only needs to be updated once?
  • How will we keep the content up to date?
  • How flexible and sustainable is the content plan? Will it adapt to changes well, or will it need to be thrown out and redone?

These are just a few of the questions a content architect must answer—questions that technical writers already grapple with. Technical writers use their expertise to evaluate proposed or established documentation plans and identify opportunities for improvement. Continuous improvement translates into resilient and flexible documentation strategies and content that becomes increasingly more refined over time.




If you are working on a content strategy or information and knowledge management project, working with experienced and professional technical writers and content architects will help reduce the time and strain on internal resources to expedite your content’s transformation. Not sure where to start? Ask us! Our team is ready to help you get this project marked completed.


Innovatia is an end-to-end content solutions provider servicing clients looking to manage and overcome challenges with their content.  For more than two decades, our experts have worked closely with client teams to help design, transform, and manage their content with a view to driving business goals through knowledge and content solutions. To discuss in more detail, contact us.