Technology copywriting: demystifying the language of tech

by Colm Hebblethwaite

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We live in a world brimming with technological and business innovation. Across every continent teams of brilliant people are working to disrupt established sectors, optimise everyday processes and solve some of the greatest challenges we face as a species. These solutions are complex, meaning that technical language is often an unavoidable feature of the tech sector. 
This niche language plays an important role in how innovative tech companies present themselves to stakeholders, investors, peers and customers. Early adopters often look to create new words and phrases to generate hype and excitement about the novelty of their solutions. If this new language catches on, it can be an invaluable brand asset. 
While this strategy may be great for creating an initial buzz, it can create problems further down the line when it is time to launch the new solution to a mass market. In these situations, niche language can sometimes shut people out rather than invite them in, which is where technology copywriting can help.    

Part of the club

Buzzwords and tech seem to go hand in hand in the modern world. Some pass into everyday usage, such as ‘googling’ information or ‘downloading’ a new app. Others remain the sole preserve of a core group of users, investors, engineers and industry insiders. Whether a new word or phrase enters everyday use is hard to predict. 
This process is evident in the blockchain and cryptocurrency space. While most people will have at least heard the words ‘bitcoin’ and ‘cryptocurrency’, the sector remains inaccessible to the average consumer. Blockchain, the data storage innovation that underpins cryptocurrencies, has the potential to have a big impact on a wide range of industries, from real estate to healthcare. For an innovation with such transformative potential, public knowledge about blockchain remains relatively low. 
The reason for this could be the fact that blockchain is more behind the scenes than centre stage. It could also be the result of language like this
“SALT holds all collateral assets in deep cold storage, which means the private keys are generated offline, stored offline, and transaction signing happens completely offline.”
Or this:
“Hyperledger Iroha is an easy to use, modular distributed blockchain platform with its own unique consensus and ordering service algorithms, rich role-based permission model and multi-signature support.” 
If you don’t understand what any of this means, don’t worry. In a way, you are not supposed to get it straight away. It takes work, research and engagement with the sector to gain the level of understanding to make sense of the above statements. 
The early adopters, investors and other stakeholders that take the time to learn the technical language of a solution like blockchain are incredibly valuable to tech companies. They can often much more loyal and forgiving as customers. They often feel like they are part of a company’s journey, especially with emerging tech start-ups. 

Breaking the pattern 

A problem emerges when tech companies try to expand new solutions to a mass market. Suddenly, the language that had tightly bound a small group together begins to have the opposite effect. It makes it more difficult to communicate their core proposition and benefits to less technical users. 
A common trait of consumers all over the world is that they don’t trust things they don’t understand. When confronted with what can seem like deliberate attempts to overcomplicate things, many consumers will simply look elsewhere.
The obvious solution here is to try and make the language more universal, but this presents a number of challenges. Firstly, this often needs fundamental changes to the way that a company talks about itself. Organisations of technical experts and scientific minds tend to talk in a certain way, and it can often be hard to break out of that headspace. Technology copywriting often starts from a different way of thinking. It excels at translating the technical into something more digestible and benefit-focused for the end customer.
Secondly, there is an important balancing act between simplifying language and losing important details. While the average consumer will not want to know about the nuts and bolts, they will also not take kindly to having key information withheld from them. This is where a company’s communication strategy becomes really important – the aim should be to make the top-level benefits as universal as possible and allow readers to drill down into the details and the technical wizardry behind a solution if they choose to. Good technology copywriting makes people aware of how a solution will improve their lives without getting bogged down in exactly how it will do it.
Thirdly, making language simpler might inadvertently alienate the core group of early adopters and brand advocates that the company previously relied on. When a club thrives on a sense of exclusivity, it can be damaging to throw open the doors and invite everyone in. Most companies don’t want to mess too heavily with the factors that have created their initial success. The skillset of a technology copywriter can really add value here. A solid and unique brand identity and tone of voice is the thing that unites all of a company’s communications, even when talking to different audiences.  

Call in the specialist technology copywriters 

The role of a good copywriter is not to be the smartest, most technically minded person in the room. Rather, it is about having an understanding of the solution as well as the intended audience. It is about having the experience and expertise to effectively communicate a proposition in a way that works for everyone. 
Tech innovators and early adopters rightly view themselves as specialists, and we do too. Get in touch to see how technology copywriting can help you start finding the right words.

More from Stratton Craig

Find out more about the work we do in the tech sector here: Technology
Read more from Colm here: Writing for voice search

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