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Ryan Macklin

technical & UX writer
empathy advocate

Jackson, Michigan, US




hello there!

Ryan Macklin (he/they) is what happens when you put software development, game design, user documentation, and neurodiversity into a blender. This human smoothee specializes in difficult UX and user doc writing, always keeping in mind human empathy with disconnected design.

What is empathy advocacy?

Empathy advocacy is a name I use to describe a sub-field of technical communication centered on realistically repecting variable human emotions. Everyone comes to your thing—product, docs, emails, etc.—preloaded with an assortment of brain chemistry, life experiences, and recent events in mind. Empathy advocacy takes that on as a beautiful challenge.
"That's great!" it says. "We'll meet people where they are, as best we can when we're not able to talk with each one personally."

currently looking for work

I'm currently looking for UX or technical writing opportunities, specifically remote position. Please feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn!

Work samples
User documentation sample

Work sample packet showing a high-concept article and a procedural article for a fictional marketing application

View or download from Dropbox (PDF, 7 pages)

Developer documentation sample

Work sample packet showing various articles for a fictional disease-tracing SDK

View or download from Dropbox (PDF, 11 pages)

UX content sample

Work sample packet showing user journey and various screens for an identity verification app

View or download from Dropbox (PDF, 7 pages)

speaking opportunities

Emotional personas: writing for the human animal
Write the Docs Boston/Florida – Nov 2020

We know users aren't purely calm, logical beings. They get mad, bored, distracted, anxious, and so on. What does that mean when it comes to writing? It means cultivating empathy and understanding with the thousands of users you'll never see or hear from. A huge task!
That's where emotional personas come in. From Anxious Armadillo to Furious Ferret, each of these five animal-themed personas explores what people go through and how to guide them to a better mental space for processing your material.

Watch on YouTube
View the deck in Google Slides

5 things game design taught me about technical writing
Write the Docs Portland 2021 – Apr 2021

I cram five lessons book-based game design taught me about technical writing, and two lessons going the other way, into a breakneck lightning talk.

Watch on YouTube
View the deck in Google Slides

three careers, melded together

technical & UX writer
Feb 2015 – the foreseeable future

From specialized clients to users of major multinational products, I've written for all sorts of audiences.
My favorite projects are the security systems and marketing products: security systems because I relish oppotunities to inject humanity and respect into moments of stress that frequently happen in security, and marketing because I likewise relish moments where I can help people feel like they're humans rather than mere "consumers."

game writer & editor
Jun 2007 – somehow still occasionally

Between writing and editing, I've left my thumbprint on over 200 books. My highlights include the independent projects helmed by passionate people on shoestring budgets—people who, like me, want to respect the reader's time and attention by meeting them where they are. Which is to say, often as overly busy working adults. That approach led to a dozen industry awards and numerous acolades for my heaviest contributions to the community's body of work.

recovering software engineer
Mar 1998 – Oct 2011

I started as computer science major, thinking I would take an academic approach to a software career. In that time, as the world was figuring out how to make internet businesses work, developers like me did everything—front-end code, APIs before they were APIs, database admin, all that.
I went from thoughts of academia to being a jack-of-all-trades engineer, eventually landing a job with the California state government where. for fun, I reverse engineered and extended .NET libraries to make my coworkers' jobs easier. Writing the docs for those libraries got me on the path you see now.