A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.

Farkas, David K.

17 found.

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Academic Training for Independent Contractors and Consultants   (PDF)

We need academic, along with, professional training, defining 'academic training' as conceptual and theoretical, future-oriented and speculative.

Farkas, David K. STC Orange County (1998). Presentations>Education>Consulting


Browse Sequence in Online Help   (PDF)

A browse sequence enables users to navigate through a series of help topics in the sequence established by the help author. Although often omitted from help systems, the browse sequence is useful and will become essential as print documentation diminishes. Effective design options for a browse sequence include multiple segments, rings, branching, and the use of a browse button to take the user to the first topic in the current segment of the browse sequence.

Farkas, David K. and Bruce R. Gibbs. STC Proceedings (1994). Articles>Documentation>Online>Help


Evaluation and Usability Testing

Despite the great need for rigorously evaluating documentation, there is no doubt that far too little evaluation, especially empirical evaluation, is performed. The problem, of course, is limited resources, limited time in the schedule, limited amounts of salaried time the organization wishes to invest, lack of expertise in evaluation, and even lack of facilities and equipment. Savvy organizations, however, recognize the value of rigorous evaluation, build it into their schedules and budgets, and are richly repaid in terms of customer satisfaction and reduced technical support costs.

Farkas, David K. Usability Interface (2009). Articles>Usability>Testing>Assessment


Explicit Structure in Print and On-Screen Documents   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

The structure of print and on-screen documents is made explicit through headings and links. Three important concepts for understanding explicit structure are (1) the display-unit properties of each document medium, (2) the flexible relationship between explicit and implicit structure, and (3) the distinction between populated and unpopulated locations in a hierarchy. These concepts help us better understand standard print documents, structured writing, websites, help systems, and PowerPoint, as well as the potential effects of content management systems on how documents are created.

Farkas, David K. Technical Communication Quarterly (2005). Articles>Document Design>Information Design>Typography


The Future of the User's Guide in the Documentation Set   (PDF)

With online help rapidly becoming the central piece in the documentation set, software companies might consider two different directions in their documentation planning. The first is to think of the user’s guide as a high-quality supplement to help. The second is to think of the user's guide as a transitional piece that will adequately support users while they make the transition to a largely online documentation set. Each of these directions carries different implications for the design of the user’s guide.

Farkas, David K. STC Proceedings (1994). Articles>Documentation>Technical Writing


Guidelines for Designing Web Navigation   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

As Web sites grow larger and more complex, the challenge of designing effective user navigation increases. We offer designers (as well as those evaluating existing Web sites) a set of 12 guidelines encompassing that attempt to cover the most important and broadly relevant navigation issues. These guidelines are grouped under four topics: (1) Designing an effective link, (2) Managing large numbers of links, (3) Providing orientation information, and (4) Augmenting link-to-link navigation. With each guideline there is an example and a synthesis of the most relevant and compelling research, theory, and expert opinion. These guidelines apply to what can be broadly termed informational Web sites rather than sites for game-players, art sites, and sites intended for whimsy and fun.

Farkas, David K. and Jean B. Farkas. Technical Communication Online (2000). Design>Web Design>Hypertext


The Logical and Rhetorical Construction of Procedural Discourse    (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

A very useful perspective for understanding procedural ('how to') discourse and for writing better procedures is to view procedures as a framework of actions and states. The states include desired (goal) states and unwanted states; the actions are user actions, system actions, and external events. This framework underlies all kinds of procedural discourse, including streamlined-step procedures, the model that predominates in online help systems. The components that make up streamlinedstep procedures are best understood as combinations of actions and states. Procedural discourse is also highly rhetorical in nature. We can see the rhetorical implications of actions and states in the various models of procedural discourse, and in specific strategies that writers implement. Because of its terse and rigid nature, the streamlinedstep model is not well suited for certain rhetorical strategies and cognitive goals, and so while recognizing the efficiency of the streamlined-step model, writers should not neglect more

Farkas, David K. Technical Communication Online (1999). Articles>Documentation>Rhetoric


Managing Three Mediation Effects that Influence PowerPoint Deck Authoring   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Reviews the extreme claims that have been made about PowerPoint. Sets forth practical design ideas that are especially applicable to technical presentations. Explains three ways in which PowerPoint can subtly influence the intended meaning of deck authors and shows how these problems can be addressed.

Farkas, David K. Technical Communication Online (2009). Articles>Presentations


Migrating to WinHelp 4.0 for Windows ’95   (PDF)

WinHelp 4 is the help environment for Microsoft’s Windows 95 and Windows NT operating systems. Among the important new features of WinHelp 4 are more capable secondary windows, shortcut buttons, the ability to integrate multiple help files, What’s This? help, and better support for online coaches. Help authors must understand both the construction and the design aspects of these new features. They must also deal with the complexities of the transition from Windows 3.1 help to WinHelp 4.

Farkas, David K. and Joe Welinske. STC Proceedings (1996). Articles>Documentation>Online>Help


Online Editing, Mark-Up Models, and the Workplace Lives of Editors and Writers   (PDF)   (peer-reviewed)

Despite the fact that most editing is still performed on paper, there are compelling reasons to begin marking copy on the computer.

Farkas, David K. and Steven E. Poltrock. IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication (1995). Articles>Editing>Online


Review: Our Little Help Machines and Their Invisibilities   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This paper examines the four kinds of invisibility Johnson-Eilola associates with minimalist help systems: fast information access that reduces user reflection and questioning, impersonal writing style that assumes the Shannon-Weaver communication model, narrow scope that leads to training but not teaching, and interface designs that oversimplify user tasks. For each of the four, the paper questions Johnson-Eilola's conclusions. Ultimately, the problems with truncated online help systems may disappear, as help systems are increasingly linking to the web, where adequate conceptual information is often supplied and opportunities for a social context for help are available.

Farkas, David K. Journal of Computer Documentation (2002). Articles>Reviews>Documentation


Programmatic Roles in Research, Professional Development, and Ethical Responsibility

Four presentations about the roles of programs in the professional, ethical, and research roles of its students and faculty.

Farkas, David K., Jennifer L. Bowie, Kenneth T. Rainey and W.J. Williamson. CPTSC (2005). Presentations>Education>Professionalism


Understanding and Using PowerPoint   (PDF)

The relatively new and controversial medium of PowerPoint presentations has generated much casual commentary but little careful analysis or empirical research. This rhetorical study attempts to advance our understanding of the medium and provides practical guidance regarding deck design, rehearsal, and performance. The study considers the reasons for the controversy surrounding PowerPoint, offers a taxonomy of the kinds of content that appear in decks, and looks closely at how presenters interact with individual slides, in particular the way in which they 'synch' to each bullet point and then 'launch' an oral gloss of that point. In addition, the study provides criteria for writing bullet points and suggests reasons why presenters include excess text on their slides.

Farkas, David K. STC Proceedings (2005). Articles>Presentations>Software>Microsoft PowerPoint


Web Design

TC 437 is a project-oriented course in website design. Implementation is not emphasized. Students receive a grounding in rhetoric, hypertext theory, user interface design, graphic design, and project management as these apply to the Web. Students also study the societal and ethical contexts of the Web and Internet.

Farkas, David K. University of Washington-Seattle (2003). Academic>Courses>Undergraduate>Web Design


What's Happening: Theory and Research   (PDF)

What will the 'document of the future' look like? What will be the new balance between text and other channels of communication?

Farkas, David K. STC Orange County (1998). Presentations>Information Design>Hypertext

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