Why Developers Should Focus on Their Writing Skills

Written by Jessica Fender

Souce: Pexels

Here’s one developer’s story from Reddit:

“I’m a coder. I think 80 percent of my emails and Slack messages are huge walls of text with caveperson grammar. Instead of replies, I get questions. How can I write better?”

A few details were adjusted for confidentiality reasons, but the bottom line stays the same:

Writing skills are essential to get ahead in a technical career.

You may assume that you’ll be working with lines of code far more often than words, but written communication is an integral part of any technical role. Whether you need to communicate with colleagues or explain a concept to a client, here are four reasons why you should hone your writing skills:

Reason 1: It’s What Employers Want

First, remote work is here to stay.

Many employers have realized that distributed teams work well, so they’ve accepted hiring remote employees.

To make things work smoothly, an employee needs superb writing skills to communicate with colleagues at a distance.

A software engineer position job description from LinkedIn. Author’s screenshot

The second reason — writing helps you work more effectively. Someone might be a great developer, but team collaboration will suffer from communication problems if they can’t express themselves clearly.

Reason 2: Less Misunderstanding and Miscommunication

Why are we talking about remote work so much? Most communication in this context is written. Even if one person from your team works remotely, you’ll be writing every day.

“What about video meetings? They’re better than writing messages, aren’t they?”

Video chat is great, but there are some shortcomings:

  • Having a video meeting for every single question is impractical and disruptive to workflow;
  • Writing forces us to communicate more straightforwardly, and you can always revise what you wrote previously;
  • Writing makes communication searchable, which is useful for references.

These benefits are why job descriptions are common where the hiring manager emphasizes “the ability to communicate concepts.”

A software engineer position job description from LinkedIn. Author’s screenshot

Writing ability is integral to communication skills. It’s also important to note how the recruiter emphasized that flawless English isn’t something they’re looking for, though.

Besides daily communication with colleagues, you might also be responsible for writing:

  • Bug reports;
  • Demo presentations;
  • Technical communication;
  • Knowledge base articles;
  • Reviewing colleagues’ code (comments, etc.).

Reason 3: Get More Satisfied Customers

It certainly is, but who is the best person to explain your code to clients?

You.

That’s why employers often add requirements like this one to job descriptions.

A software engineer position job description from LinkedIn. Author’s screenshot

Clients are those “non-technical” computer users. They need professionals to explain the “how” and “why.” Businesses often turn to sites like Topessaywriting for content marketing assistance, while tools such as Canva are perfect for beginners in social media visuals.

The same applies to programming. Clients might have zero experience with it, so they need developers to explain technical jargon to them. They’ll send you emails, Slack messages, and comment on your code, asking tons of questions.

If the manager and other business folks can’t understand the product and its features, it makes little sense to keep working with engineers who can’t justify their decisions.

Reason 4: Write Better Replies to User Reviews

In many companies, this task often falls to UX researchers, outreach specialists, or PR professionals. However, since both Google Play and the App store made it possible for developers to write replies to reviews, having customer communication skills is advantageous.

According to Google, it’s beneficial to improve user experience and thus earn more positive reviews. Here’s how the company encourages developers to reply.

Source: Google Support, Author’s screenshot

It’s no wonder why employers expect the same from app developers. Any good developer must be able to write helpful replies to customer requests and questions.

Most replies, however, will be template-based. This process means they apply to specific scenarios, such as users writing how much they’re enjoying their experience with an app.

In this case, it might be enough to respond using a short and sweet template.

Note that a template may also include details like the customer’s name and the person who replies. Sometimes a simple “thank you” isn’t enough, though, so SaaS businesses use writing help to create templates for every situation.

Many businesses take advantage of this best writing websites page to choose a partner for customer support writing. When templates are complete, anyone can use them to respond to common reviews.

However, customers sometimes raise questions or concerns only developers can answer.

In the following example, the user has encountered an issue with an app.

Take a look at his description of what happened. A non-developer would have some trouble writing a helpful reply to this.

As you can see from the answer, it’s best that someone with app development knowledge addressed the question.

For employers, having developers write replies is vital because they:

  • Increase trust in users: Relevant and helpful replies show that the app provider is serious about user experience;
  • Help grow their user base: About 59 percent of users read reviews before they download an app. A lack of replies or negative reviews indicate that developers might not care a lot about their customers’ experience;
  • Improve App Store Optimization (ASO): Reviews are essential for app discoverability in an app store. Fewer positive ones might result in a lower position in search results.

Being a clear communicator will help you to pass this employer requirement. If your writing skills are outstanding, a brand might ask you to respond to reviews to manage its reputation.

Feeling Convinced?

Keep the importance of writing abilities in mind when thinking about your career!

________________________________________________________________

Jessica Fender is the Chief Content Officer at Online Writers Rating.

We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring women to excel in technology careers. https://www.womenwhocode.com/

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store