Great writing helps your software project succeed

My role as a Vancouver technical writer is to help your software project succeed – by creating customized, user-focused documentation that replaces vendor techno-speak, softens the shock of the new, and provides effective ongoing help for users when they need it.

My clients include banks, law firms, technology companies, educational institutions, architecture firms, engineering firms, and government ministries. I’m comfortable working with everyone in an organization, from clerical staff to the corporate suite.

I’m a senior Vancouver technical writer, editor and instructor, with more than 20 years experience creating a wide range of print, online and video documentation and training materials. I work with the standard tools required to produce effective documentation, including Word, Madcap Flare, Robohelp, Framemaker, SharePoint, and others. If I need to learn a tool, I do so quickly and efficiently because it’s part of the job.

You can reach me at 604-230-0697 or stephenjohngauer@gmail.com.

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My Vancouver technical writer skills

Technical writing + editing
Software training + instructional design
Writing skills workshops + presentations
Graphic design + typography
Project management

Selected technical writing clients

Architecture and Engineering: IBI Group
Education: SFU, UBC, Kwantlen University, George Brown College, Humber College
Financial: Scotiabank, CIBC
Software: Exan Group, Avocette Technologies, Maximizer, VC Labs
Technology: 360Networks, Greenlight Innovation
Marine: Western Canada Marine Rescue Corporation

My Vancouver technical writer tools

Madcap Flare, Robohelp
Framemaker
Microsoft Office
SharePoint, JIRA, Confluence, wikis, WordPress

Academic

Bachelor of Arts (major in Communications), Simon Fraser University, 2001
Master of Fine Arts, Creative Writing, University of British Columbia, 2005

Vancouver technical writer – Hourly rate

My rate varies from $70 to $80/hour depending on the nature and scope of the project.

My approach to documentation

When you hire me, I begin by listening, observing and learning. I ask a lot of questions because I need to learn your culture, your priorities and what makes you unique. Then I begin to share my technical writing experience and expertise.

Often the most challenging part of any documentation project is the human dimension. As a documentation team, do we have a good understanding of our audience? Are we imposing a technical agenda on a non-technical audience? These are important questions.

Choosing the right tool for the job is critical. Sometimes the most sophisticated and complex tool is a good choice, but often something simpler will do.

I will fight hard for plain language when you hire me.  I believe very passionately that simplicity, brevity and clarity should be the hallmarks of all writing, whether technical or non-technical.

I’ve done a lot of training and teaching in my 25 years in the IT world. This has taught me a few things about end users and why they view IT communication with a certain degree of skepticism. A good technical writer understands the audience; a great technical writer has empathy as well.

Affordable Madcap Flare training

flareMadcap Flare is the industry standard, single-source authoring tool for creating online help, PDF output, Word output and ebook output. Flare enables tech writers to create great-looking online help with excellent searching and excellent control over layout, colour schemes, typography, and custom icons.

Flare’s new top navigation template uses the power of HTML5 to create slick online help sites with drop-down menus, fast and easy searching, slideshows, video and PDF downloads. These sites are fully responsive, and look great on mobile devices as well as desktop monitors.

I’m the only Vancouver technical writer currently offering basic and intermediate Flare training. For information about rates, delivery methods and content outlines, check my training website, Affordable Flare Training.

For a sample of Flare’s new top nav layout, available in version 11 of the program, check out my dedicated Flare info site, Technical writers do it with Flare.

Society for Technical Communication

As well as running my own company as a Vancouver technical writer, I’m past president of the Canada West Coast chapter of the STC (Society for Technical Communication), with members throughout the lower mainland and Vancouver Island. The STC is the world’s leading and largest organization dedicated to advancing technical communication and improving the skills of its members. Check out the STC CWC website.

My teaching career

kpuIn a parallel career to my work as a Vancouver technical writer, I’ve taught academic, business and technical writing at several post-secondary institutions, including the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, and Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Greater Vancouver, and at Guelph University/Humber College and George Brown College in Toronto.

My most recent teaching experience was at Kwantlen. I taught a business communications course to first-year students, and a technical writing course to third-year students in the Bachelor of Technology degree program.

I enjoy teaching because it’s a chance to share my passion and enthusiasm for writing. And of course I learn a lot from the students. At George Brown I taught College English to students of  all ages and all nationalities and all professions. I met accountants from Russia, software developers from Korea, marketing managers from Brazil and shy high school graduates from suburban Toronto. That was one of the best and most rewarding teaching experiences in my life.

Creative writing

I sold my first piece of professional writing to the Globe and Mail back in 1975, when I was 23. That launched my newspaper reporting career, including stops in Thompson (Manitoba), Barrie (Ontario), Ottawa and Toronto. I wrote a play in the mid 1980s that was produced in a small summer theatre, but then dropped out of creative writing for almost 20 years.

holdmenow-cover-smallOn a whim, I took a non-fiction writing course with instructor Stephen Osborne at SFU in 2001, when I was doing my undergrad degree in communications, and that brought me back into the writing world.

After finishing my SFU degree, I went on to do an MFA in Creative Writing at UBC in 2005, and published my thesis  novel, Hold Me Now, based very loosely on the Aaron Webster murder in Vancouver, in 2011. I’ve also published short stories in various literary magazines as well as newspaper features, mostly in the Globe and Mail. Read my stories and an excerpt from Hold Me Now.

Stephen Gauer technical writer

Vancouver, British Columbia