The documentation phase of a product’s development lifecycle is a great time to do some usability analysis. Think about it, the technical writer is seeing your product from your customer’s perspective and must put into words, pictures or videos, the steps necessary to use it. And who better to provide such feedback than someone who knows how to really communicate it?
Just the very process of describing something creates a unique dynamic which can often uncover some hidden information. You’ve probably experienced this in the past where, for example, when writing notes about something, you finally “connect the dots” or see information in a new light.
On every documentation project we’ve worked on, we’ve been able to expose usability issues before the end user sees them. Sometimes these issues require a fix but in other cases we can often “bury” them through good documentation. Another advantage we have is that we are not seeing your project as your development team would. As outsiders we provide a unique view and are not afraid to report on what we see.
So in summary, your technical writer can be more than just someone who writes instructions. They are a great resource for providing that critical feedback on how your end users will view your product.