02 Apr 2012
The Flying Developer Learns To Write
Coming from a background in Computer Science and Software engineering, some of the tasks I have to do in my current role are daunting. I used to write code 100% of the time but now I’m more likely to be putting together a presentation or writing public documentation. Even worse, app developers look to me for advice on copywriting and content for their app’s promotional video. Nightmare!
Actually, it’s not that bad. One of the reasons I took my job was because I enjoy these ‘right brain’ problems. Applying flair and creativity to something as rigid and mathematical as software is incredibly rewarding.
It’s definitely not easy to switch over from left brain to right brain mode. Thankfully, there are some really great resources for software developers like me who are dabbling in unfamiliar territory. Here are a couple that I’ve found useful.
Presentation is Everything
Slide design for developers is a fantastic guide to giving better presentations. I still default to ‘bullet lists and pictures’ way too often when I’m presenting. After reading this article I resolved to start putting some visual punch into my slides cut down on the text as much as possible. From the article:
My slides are not designed for people who didn’t see the talk in person. They’re designed to support my words, not some online audience.
This is something that is easy to forget when writing slides. I never used to write slide notes which resulted in my constantly turning round to read my own slides while presenting them. If you need to read your own slides, you’re doing it wrong. My colleague Edward recently gave an internal presentation rooted in the principles introduced in the article and it was stellar.
We recently designed the Shopify App Store, and part of that involved writing guidelines for developers who are publishing their apps there. After being the App Store custodian for six months I’ve seen my fair share of good and bad attempts at listings. It’s easy to tell them apart, but harder to quantify exactly what a good listing has that a bad one doesn’t. Furthermore, we have to explain these concepts (once we’ve figured out what they are) to developers.
I’ve found Copywriting for Geeks to be a great resource for figuring these things out. It’s got a great guide for doing precisely the kind of writing we’re encouraging our developers to do with their app listings, and helped me to pin down the points I wanted to make. Right now you can get it for free (in exchange for signing up for the author’s mailing list), so I definitely recommend taking a look.
Thanks for reading! If you like my writing, you may be interested in my book: Healthy Webhook Consumption with Rails
David at 10:00