A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.

Tognazzini, Bruce

24 found.

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Advice to Technical Writers

A friend asked the going rate for author's royalties on a technical or trade paperback, so I asked some people what they received. A few wrote back with extremely enlightening and fascinating comments. I passed these notes on to other authors, and received yet more interesting reading back. I have now edited all these comments down a bit, mostly taking out the names of authors and publishers and removing publisher specific comments.

Tognazzini, Bruce. Ray Tracing News (1996). Careers>Writing>Pricing>Technical Writing


Arm-Wrestling the Photoshop Police

Adobe is shipping a 6.0 upgrade to Photoshop that, for many Mac users, proves unusable. We learned back in the 1980s that when you rake your legitimate users over the coals in the hopes of catching the occasional thief, you end up with a lot of really raked off users. Apparently, someone at Adobe has forgotten.

Tognazzini, Bruce. Nielsen Norman Group (2001). Articles>User Interface>Software>Adobe Photoshop


Beyond the Browser

At the risk of repeating an old saw, when you only have a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Our hammer has been the Web browser. It has been crippling the software industry for the past eight years and it will kill productivity at any company that introduces major enterprise applications on its intranet. Should we get rid of the browser? No, no more than we should get rid of the hammer. The browser is a useful tool. It needs to cease being the only tool, and it could use some improvement.

Tognazzini, Bruce and Jakob Nielsen. eWeek (2001). Design>Web Design>Usability


Elephants in the Living Room: The Destructive Role of Denial in Web Design

Four of your fellow development team members, all trying to do their specific jobs to the best of their abilities, have the power to sink your best effort at interaction design. As an interaction designer, it is your job to see they don't do so. (If you are not an interaction designer, read on anyway; you may be surprised to learn that you may be part of the problem.)

Tognazzini, Bruce. Nielsen Norman Group (2000). Articles>Web Design>User Interface>Collaboration


First Principles

Principles fundamental to the design and implementation of effective interfaces, whether for traditional GUI environments or the web. Of late, many web applications have reflected a lack of understanding of many of these principles of design, to their great detriment. Because an application or service appears on the web, the principles do not change. If anything, applying these principles become even more important.

Tognazzini, Bruce. Nielsen Norman Group (1994). Articles>Usability>Assessment


Good Lawyers, Bad Products

Lawyers may know their way around a courtroom, but they have no business designing products. Too often, in their zealous pursuit of zero liability, they end up damaging products, alienating customers, destroying companies, and killing people. It's up to you to stop them.

Tognazzini, Bruce. Nielsen Norman Group (2002). Design>User Interface>Legal


The High Price of Not Listening

Ever visited the website of a company with a glaring error either on the site or in their product, only to discover that they have successfully sealed themselves off from the world, so you can't report it? Sure you have, and it's not only causing you frustration, it's costing that company real money.

Tognazzini, Bruce. Nielsen Norman Group (2004). Design>Web Design>User Centered Design>User Experience


How Programmers Stole the Web

In the late 1970s, a great flood of creative talent, drawn from the ranks of people who had never before touched a computer, took to the keyboards of the early microcomputers and started a revolution. The early programming environments and languages were simple, natural, and accessible. Within five years, that group had been disenfranchised by the advent of 'serious' computing environments, such as Pascal and C, and software settled back down to being the business of professionals. With the advent of the web, another even greater flood of talent was unleashed, but this time the end came sooner. Within two years, the originally simple HTML environment had become clouded with hacks on top of hacks, as the C++ boys moved in and took over. The new talent could only continue to produce pretty pictures, while the traditional priesthood again took up the real work of programming. The web has stagnated ever since.

Tognazzini, Bruce. Nielsen Norman Group (2000). Design>Web Design>History


How to Publish a Great User Manual

When was the last time you curled up in bed with a really good user-manual just for the sheer joy of reading it? Never? Think that is some immutable law of nature, like the one that dictates all textbooks must be dull as dirt? 'Tain't so, McGee.

Tognazzini, Bruce. Nielsen Norman Group (1998). Articles>Documentation


How to Write a Report Without Getting Lynched

You put forth your best effort to explain to the stupid sods exactly how and where they screwed up, then they have the temerity to not appreciate your fine efforts. Here's how to write a report that will cause change, instead of uproar.

Tognazzini, Bruce. Nielsen Norman Group (2001). Articles>Usability>Reports>Technical Writing


If They Don't Test, Don't Hire Them

The single best indicator as to the overall competence of an interaction design team is their plan for user testing. If you are presented with no plan or a sort of vague 'and we'll eventually do some user testing,' you may want to back off and look at other resources. If, on the other hand, you are given a proposal outlining repeated design and test cycles, you are dealing with people who know exactly what they are doing.

Tognazzini, Bruce. Nielsen Norman Group (2000). Articles>Project Management>Usability


Inclusive Design, Part 1

Have you ever thought about what it would be like to be disabled? Well, you better start thinking about it! As my collegue Gregg Vanderheiden is fond of pointing out, 'We all will have disabilities eventually, unless we die first.'

Tognazzini, Bruce. Nielsen Norman Group (2009). Articles>Accessibility>Usability>Universal Usability


Inclusive Design, Part 2

Accessibility is not something to be left to specialists hired to clean up our mess at the end. It should be a priority of the entire development team from the beginning. Yes, companies should definitely have accessibility people on-board, but they should act as much as educators and coaches as designers. Everyone on the development team must be aware of and responsive to the full spectrum of identified users if your product is to sell to the widest possible audience. That’s the only way to achieve inclusive design.

Tognazzini, Bruce. Nielsen Norman Group (2009). Articles>Accessibility>Usability>Universal Usability


Is the Internet Really Collapsing?

The sky is falling. It has been falling for about a year now, and it feels like it won’t stop falling until every business associated with the Internet is dead, dead, dead.  What is happening now happens with every new explosion of technology. When the sky has finished falling, it will leave behind an industry with far fewer, but much healthier players. And then things will get better than they ever were.

Tognazzini, Bruce. Nielsen Norman Group (2001). Careers>Web Design>User Interface


Manufacturer Sites that Sell

The job of a retail site is to attract the consumer, sell the product, and deliver it. In the case of a manufacturer site, the only difference when encountering a retail customer is that, instead of delivering the product, the site may deliver the customer—to an authorized retailer.

Tognazzini, Bruce. Nielsen Norman Group (2007). Articles>Web Design>E Commerce>Usability


Panic! How it Works and What To Do About It

When we create technologies that are extremely complex and do not provide comprehensive feedback for each and every possible error, such as a seat belt left unbuckled, people have a tendency to drive their aircraft into garden parties. When we create technologies where similar actions produce dissimilar results, such as placing a brake and accelerator pedal side-by-side, to be actuated in the identical manner by the identical limb, people will periodically die.

Tognazzini, Bruce. Nielsen Norman Group (2004). Design>User Interface>User Centered Design>Emotions


Panther: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

For a long time, people have been writing me, asking that I do an in depth review of OS X. I held off because I really didn't think OS X was ready for prime time. That's all changed. OS X, in the form of the Panther release, is more than ready.

Tognazzini, Bruce. Nielsen Norman Group (2004). Articles>User Interface>Operating Systems>Macintosh


Replay TV

You've all heard of TiVo. Sure you have. TiVo is the hard-disk video recorder that automatically records all of your favorite shows. Then there's ReplayTV, the other leading brand. Late fall 2001, ReplayTV crossed over a line that should never have been crossed, one that threatened the future of consumer products.

Tognazzini, Bruce. Nielsen Norman Group (2002). Articles>User Interface>Ethics>Assessment


The Scott Adams Meltdown: Anatomy of a Disaster

A chain of five errors led to Scott Adams losing his work. Not one of those errors was his. They had been made months and even years before Scott Adams ever started work on his blog. His was an accident waiting to happen, an accident that has almost certainly befallen a large number of other individuals who have had the misfortune to use the same software.

Tognazzini, Bruce. Nielsen Norman Group (2006). Design>Web Design>Usability>Forms


Slashing Subjective Time

Slashing subjective time on your site by 50% is a perfectly reasonable goal. Indolent worker George Costanza once reflected on the time in the shower you wait for the hair conditioner to work as, 'a really tough minute.' A minute waiting for hair conditioner to work while getting ready for a date can feel longer than the three subsequent hours you spend with that very special person. Reducing/eliminating boredom points can make the time spent on your website appear to really fly by.

Tognazzini, Bruce. Nielsen Norman Group (2007). Design>Web Design>User Centered Design>User Experience


Top Ten Nine Reasons the Apple Dock Still Sucks

Apple Sales is apparently in love with the Dock. You can't go into an Apple store without seeing it splayed across the bottom of the screen, in the very configuration least conducive to computing on a Macintosh. Why? Because it's sexy and it sells. Unfortunately, as a productivity device, it just doesn't work.

Tognazzini, Bruce. Nielsen Norman Group (2004). Design>User Interface>Operating Systems>Macintosh


When Good Design => Bad Product

The prototypes looked great and tested well. The programmers did their usual competent job of implementation. The result was a disaster. What went wrong? Someone forgot the last, critical step.

Tognazzini, Bruce. Nielsen Norman Group (2003). Design>Usability>Methods


Why We Get No Respect, and What We Can Do About It

It's time interface designers, or whatever we're calling ourselves, get some respect. After 25 years of whining about it, I've finally realized we have only ourselves to blame. Take control. If you look at nothing else of mine this year, please read this, act on it, and pass it on.

Tognazzini, Bruce. Nielsen Norman Group (2003). Articles>User Interface>Professionalism


The Worst Interface Ever

Never, ever, ever let systems-level engineers do human interaction design unless they have displayed a proven secondary talent in that area.

Tognazzini, Bruce. Nielsen Norman Group (2004). Articles>User Interface>Case Studies

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