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Yael basford Podcast

Navigating Team Dynamics in Technical Writing with Yael Basford, Senior Technical Writer at Akamai

Category: Podcast

Yael Basford, Senior Technical Writer, Akamai talks about how technical writing and psychology are intertwined and share her experiences working in larger teams vs smaller teams.

About Yael

  1. Yael’s LinkedIn
  2. Yael is a trained psychologist. She has a master’s in clinical psychology but decided not to pursue a career in therapy.
  3. She saw an advertisement for a technical writer that said they didn’t require any prior experience, they just needed good English and good writing skills- And that’s how she ended up in technical writing about 10 years ago.
  4. Before Akamai, she worked for Britannica, Wix, and BMC Software as well.

Key Takeaways

  • “Working for a global team of technical writers is amazing. We all help each other, consult with each other, and share what we’ve learned. I work with stakeholders, and I get feedback on existing articles from them. I implement the feedback and change the documentation. And sometimes I get requests for a whole new article that we’ve never written before. In that case, I must speak to a different set of stakeholders. And as a technical writer, I get feedback from the stakeholders who have some sort of interface with users.” Yael says.
  • “You have limited feedback when working with a smaller team. When I started, I was the only technical writer in the small company. I had a wonderful manager who explained everything about software, say, how software company works, what is SaaS, etc. However, the scope of collaboration and exposure is huge when working with bigger teams.” Yael says.
  • Also sharing her experience working in a cybersecurity team, she says the goal was to educate users and be a single source of truth. The content we develop would be mostly educational material, in addition to step-by-step material, explaining cybersecurity and computing concepts.
  • According to Yael, when you’re a technical writer, you write for users, and you need to understand what the user knows already and what the user doesn’t know what the user expects to see. And, to best present the information for different kinds of learners- visual learners and text learners. So, it’s always thinking about the user, and that’s psychology in essence.
  • She believes that technical writing is a way to get a foot in the door into a big global company. And it’s a way for people who are not developers or coders to also take part in software development.
  • When asked about the biggest innovation until now in the technical writing space, she says, “Cloud-based content management system (CMS) was one step further for us because we could implement content updates immediately. It’s what you see is what you (WYSIWYG) get kind of a management system that I feel was the biggest innovation that I’ve seen.”

Rapid fire with Yael Basford

  • Biggest influence

  Yael’s first manager, Yossi Ben Ishay

  • Highly recommended resource

  It’s a blog on how technical writing contributes to usability. The blog is owned by someone who oversees API at Wix’s technical writing guild.

  • A piece of advice you would give your 20-year-old self

  Be inquisitive and humble because there’s always a lot more to learn.

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Yael basford quotes 

Gowri Ramkumar

May 18, 2023

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