A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.

Quesenbery, Whitney

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1.
#37840

Accessibility First—for a Better User Experience for All

What if design projects started by thinking about accessibility first? I don’t mean the basics like ALT text for graphics, following coding standards, and creating correctly structured information hierarchies. Building in accessibility at the code level is the only way to remove many of the barriers people with disabilities experience. But if our design thinking started with the idea of making a product that focuses on key tasks and is flexible, would that create a better user experience for everyone?

Quesenbery, Whitney. UXmatters (2010). Articles>Accessibility>User Experience

2.
#19956

Advanced Toolkit for Experienced Technical Communicators: Using a User-Centered Design Process to Overcome Challenges in Implementing a User-Centered Design Process   (PDF)

Technical writers have known for years that a good explanation for a bad software interface may be better than nothing, but that it’s not as good as a usable software interface. With ‘usability' gaining greater visibility, this is a good time to implement a usercentered design process. This article looks at ways that the approach and techniques of such a process can be applied to the task of introducing a new process.

Quesenbery, Whitney. STC Proceedings (2001). Design>User Centered Design>Usability

3.
#29296

Balancing the 5Es: Usability   (PDF)

Just what do we mean by usability? Before we can set out to achieve it, we need to understand what it is we are trying to achieve. It's not enough to declare that from here on, our software will be more user friendly or that we will now be customer focused.

Quesenbery, Whitney. Cutter IT Journal (2004). Articles>Usability>Methods

4.
#31993

Ballot Design and Usability

Discusses the importance of usability testing as a final check on ballot layout and instructions text. Many of the problems in the report would likely have been caught with even an informal test. The report highlights a usability testing kit for local election officials, the LEO Usability Testing Kit.

Quesenbery, Whitney. Usability Professionals Association (2008). Articles>Usability>Government

5.
#22869

A Beginner's Guide to HTML   (PDF)

Answers to questions like: where do Web pages come from? What are all those brackets in the text, anyway? How much HTML do I have to learn? How can I get started quickly? What kinds of HTML authoring tools are available to me?

Quesenbery, Whitney. STC Proceedings (1997). Articles>Web Design>HTML

6.
#30133

A Beginner's Guide to HTML and Web Design   (PDF)

The best place to learn about HTML is on the Web itself. A few of the best resources for exploring HTML design are listed here.

Quesenbery, Whitney. STC Proceedings (1998). Articles>Web Design>Standards>HTML

7.
#20928

Being User-Centered When Implementing a UCD Process

For those who are interested in usability – whether long-time advocates or newly introduced – this is a good time to introduce a user-centered design process.

Quesenbery, Whitney. WQusability (2001). Articles>User Centered Design>Methods>Usability

8.
#20926

Building a Better Style Guide   (PDF)

Why are style guides so frequently created, but so rarely successful? All too often, businesses ask for a style guide as a means to create a common look and feel, in the belief that it will solve usability problems and establish consistency between applications – only to be disappointed in the results. Even if such a style guide is followed carefully, the resulting interfaces may not meet usability goals.. This paper explores strategies for creating a style guide that is more than a simplistic rules book. By making the style guide part of the process, it can be used to promote a shared vision, to help the product meet business and usability requirements for consistency and…it may actually be used.

Quesenbery, Whitney. Usability Professionals Association (2001). Articles>Style Guides>Rhetoric>Usability

9.
#13710

Building Blocks to a Body of Knowledge for User-Centered Design: To Certify or Not to Certify

For the past nine months the Usability Professionals’ Association (UPA) participated in a project to investigate the feasibility of certifying usability (or user-centered design) professionals. The project was kicked off in Salt Lake City last November when a group of people from many organizations, countries and associations met for three days. That meeting ended with a sense of enthusiasm for creating a certification program based on the international standard for a human-centered design process, ISO 13407. The group planned activities to survey professionals to determine the level of support for certification, and to understand the benefits and drawbacks seen by stakeholders.

Quesenbery, Whitney. Usability Interface (2002). Careers>Certification>Usability>Body of Knowledge

10.
#20285

Building Documentation into the Interface   (PDF)

As documentation is more and more built directly into the interface, and as technical communicators move into interface design and usability, it is important to have a theoretical framework within which to make decisions about what kind of information will be conveyed at any moment. We can build on basic principles of cognitive psychology to help us make these decisions. We start from a question: Why should users be aware of the difference between interface and documentation when all they want is to get something done?

Quesenbery, Whitney. STC Proceedings (1998). Articles>Documentation>User Interface>Help

11.
#26225

Building Documentation into the Interface

As documentation is more and more built directly into the interface, and as technical communicators move into interface design and usability, it is important to have a theoretical framework within which to make decisions about what kind of information will be conveyed at any moment. We can build on basic principles of cognitive psychology to help us make these decisions. We start from a question: Why should users be aware of the difference between interface and documentation when all they want is to get something done?

Quesenbery, Whitney. STC Orange County (1998). Presentations>Documentation>Usability

12.
#22849

Building Documentation Into the Interface: A Cognitive Theory   (PDF)

As documentation is more and more built directly into the interface, and as technical communicators move into areas of interface design and usability, it is important to have a theoretical framework within which to make decisions about what kind of information should be conveyed at any moment.

Quesenbery, Whitney. STC Proceedings (1997). Articles>Documentation>User Interface>Cognitive Psychology

13.
#30043

Review: Comments on: Selker, Rosenzweig, and Pandolfo (2006). "A Methodology for Testing Voting Systems"   (PDF)   (peer-reviewed)

In the article, 'A Methodology for Testing Voting Systems' (JUS, November 2006, pp7-21), Selker, Rosenzweig, and Pandolfo discuss their methodology for usability testing of voting systems. With so much at stake in the usability of our ballots and voting systems, we can only applaud any research in this field. There is little history of research in this area, so discussions of test protocols are especially valuable. Unfortunately, although this article sets out to compare 'the relative merit in realistic versus lab style experiments for testing voting technology,' it falls short of this goal. If their point is that real-world testing is important because real election environments add burdens that are not present in lab settings, this conclusion is not supported by any of the work described.

Quesenbery, Whitney, John Cugini, Dana E. Chisnell, Bill Killam and Janice C. 'Ginny' Redish. Journal of Usability Studies (2007). Articles>Reviews>Usability>Civic

14.
#28677

Creating a Universal Usability Agenda

How do you keep usability, accessibility, and user experience requirements on track while developing standards? It is part of the very nature of standards to focus on details--and in the process, to sometimes lose sight of the real goals. This is especially true when a standards-making process goes on for a long time, a situation is highly political, or most people are focused on technology issues.

Quesenbery, Whitney. UXmatters (2006). Articles>Usability>Accessibility>Universal Usability

15.
#20931

Crossing the Chasm: Promoting Usability in the Software Development Community

User-centered design should be a core part of every software development effort yet, despite its well-documented paybacks, it has yet to be widely adopted. Too often, user-centered design remains the province of visionaries rather than the everyday practice of programmers and analysts. Despite a general consensus on a basic approach to user-centered design (UCD), there is little understanding of the process and how it fits into larger software development methodologies.

Quesenbery, Whitney. WQusability (2000). Articles>User Centered Design>Programming

16.
#30579

Design Critique: On Plain Language

An interview with Whitney Quesenbery about minimalism and plain language in user experience design.

Quesenbery, Whitney. Design Critique (2007). Articles>Interviews>Minimalism>Podcasts

17.
#21034

Designing a Search People Can Really Use   (PDF)

The challenge of finding the right information at the right time has grown with the Web. The information superhighway is larger and more crowded than ever, and individual sites are also larger and more complex. With this explosion in the sheer volume of pages, finding the information you need is harder than ever. Search engines have always held out the promise of solving this problem, but they are often a usability disaster area. Inaccurate results, cluttered search entries, and a narrow focus on technological capabilities are only a few of the issues that make search features so difficult to use.

Quesenbery, Whitney. Intercom (2003). Design>Web Design>Search>Usability

18.
#20933

Designing for Interactive Television

We are so accustomed to watching television that we easily overlook the limited resolution of the television screen. Compared to TV, even VGA looks good. Although both use a similar display monitor, they differ in both the way the screen is 'painted' and in how much information can be placed on the screen. To design effectively for interactive television, it is essential to understand the technical constraints of the medium.

Quesenbery, Whitney. WQusability (1996). Design>Multimedia>Video>Typography

19.
#24427

Designing the Interface for an Electronic Document   (PDF)

Interfaces are more than skin deep. To create a successful electronic documentation project the structure of the information, the navigation and the visual design must all work together. Research Publications' American Journey series of CD-ROMs on topics in American history is a good example of an interface designed from the inside out.

Quesenbery, Whitney. STC Proceedings (1995). Design>User Interface

20.
#23865

Review: Designing Web Sites for Every Audience

Author Ilise Benun looks at the web from a refreshing perspective, tying marketing and usability together through a common interest in understanding the people who use a web site.

Quesenbery, Whitney. Usability Interface (2004). Resources>Reviews>Web Design

21.
#20923

Dimensions of Usability: Defining the Conversation, Driving the Process   (PDF)

Have you ever wondered if your colleagues or clients really understand usability? Too often, standards or guidelines substitute for really engaging our business, technical and design colleagues in a discussion of what usability means. By looking at usability from five dimensions, we can create a consensus around usability goals and use that definition to provide the basis for planning user centered design activities.

Quesenbery, Whitney. WQusability (2003). Articles>Usability>Consulting>User Centered Design

22.
#27175

Dimensions of Usability: Defining the Conversation, Driving the Process

Have you ever wondered if your colleagues or clients really understand usability? Too often, standards or guidelines substitute for really engaging our business, technical and design colleagues in a discussion of what usability means. By looking at usability from five dimensions, we can create a consensus around usability goals and use that definition to provide the basis for planning user centered design activities.

Quesenbery, Whitney. uiGarden (2006). Articles>Usability>User Centered Design

23.
#11824

From the SIG Manager's Desk--Technical Communicators and Usability

Why technical communicators and usability? Both writers and software development managers have asked me that question. In both cases, it springs from a narrow view of communicators as 'just writers.' It is a point of view that fails to see the many activities, from learning the subject matter to organizing the information or creating good document design, that are hidden behind that final task of writing the words.

Quesenbery, Whitney. Usability Interface (2000). Articles>Usability

24.
#19779

Get Smart: Interface Design and Production Meet Editorial on a New CD-ROM Magazine   (PDF)

Creating a new magazine is a large task. Creating a new magazine on CD-ROM can be a huge task. All of the design and layout decisions which are part of any project are magnified in an electronic project. Writers and editors have to learn to write “for the screen, ” illustrations have to fit the size, graphics format and palette determined by the display program, every reference, sequence and link has to be checked online, and the whole thing has to run on a “real world” 386 machine. GetSmart made the journey, with its premier issue release in July 1995.

Quesenbery, Whitney. STC Proceedings (1996). Design>User Interface>Editing

25.
#20934

GetSmart: Interface Design and Production Meet Editorial on a New CD-ROM Magazine

The technology of magazine production is well established. Editors have access to high-resolution print screens, and can use a wide variety of fonts, layout designs and graphics to create attractive and readable pages. Readers are used to seeing a lot of information on a single page - some in body text, some in sidebars or callouts. On screen, by contrast, the resolution is relatively low - 72 dpi as opposed to 2400 dpi. Readers are not yet accustomed to reading directly from the screen, and an overly cluttered screen or one with fonts which are too small can quickly become unreadable.

Quesenbery, Whitney. WQusability (1996). Design>Multimedia>CD ROM>Typography

 
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