A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.

Weber, Kai

22 found.

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Asking Your Users, Part 1

We tech writers need to know what our readers need. One of the simplest ways to find out is to just ask the users. However, the most obvious questions aren’t necessarily the best ones. Today, I look at some questions that don’t work as well as you might think.

Weber, Kai. Kai's Tech Writing Blog (2010). Articles>Web Design>Usability>Interviewing


Asking Your Users, Part 2

To get the most out of a user survey, make sure your users can give you answers which are measurable and actionable. This is, in my experience, the key to a good user survey.

Weber, Kai. Kai's Tech Writing Blog (2010). Articles>Web Design>Usability>Surveys


Buy Yourself Time as a Lone Writer

If you want to be “making it as a lone writer“, one of the most difficult challenges is to find time. Time to develop your skills, improve the documentation, advocate it and network with other teams.

Weber, Kai. Kai's Tech Writing Blog (2010). Articles>Writing>Technical Writing


Buy Yourself Time as a Lone Writer, Part 2

To be “making it as a lone writer“, you need time. Time to develop your skills, improve the documentation, reach out and network with other teams.

Weber, Kai. Kai's Tech Writing Blog (2010). Careers>Writing>Technical Writing


Content is a Service, Not a Product

Content is a service, not a product. For consumers, less a thing they buy, more an experience.

Weber, Kai. Kai's Tech Writing Blog (2010). Articles>Content Management>User Experience


The Creative Passion

How exciting is technical writing, really?” Every once in a while, discussions in blogs or at conferences turn to that question. How technical writing is not really a calling or maybe even boring. Technical writing is my creative passion. I don’t have a recipe, but I want to share my excitement. Maybe it resonates with you, and maybe you’ll see technical writing in a different way.

Weber, Kai. DMN Communications (2009). Articles>Writing>Technical Writing


Familiar is Easy is "True"

The success of easy-to-read fonts and familiar sentences may have psychological reasons – and far-reaching consequences for professional writers.

Weber, Kai. Kai's Tech Writing Blog (2010). Articles>User Centered Design>Usability>Technical Writing


Getting Ahead as a Lone Author   (PDF)

First, I present some of the reasons why lone authors often feel stuck. Then I examine several ways how authors can find the time to work on improving their situation. In the last part, I present some best practices that show how lone authors can manage their work to make it more beneficial for their organisation and their own career.

Weber, Kai. Communicator (2010). Articles>Writing>Technical Writing>Workplace


Half-Way DITA: Why Some is Better Than None

If DITA seems like a good idea, but you cannot make the case for it, you can move towards structured writing and make your documentation “future-proof” by meeting the standard half-way. At the company I work for, we tech writers created manuals in parallel, but separate to online help. Over time, this gave us a documentation set that was inconsistent in places and hard to maintain to boot. Topic-based authoring which reuses topics in print and online can fix that, of course.

Weber, Kai. Kai's Tech Writing Blog (2012). Articles>Information Design>DITA


How a Degree Helps a Technical Writer

A college degree can help you in technical writing, though maybe not in the ways you expect. How relevant is a college education for the field of technical communication? A couple of very good and influential tech writing blogs have recently discussed this issue.

Weber, Kai. Kai's Tech Writing Blog (2010). Careers>Education>Technical Writing


How and Why to Estimate Writing Efforts

Estimating your writing efforts and deadlines is difficult, but essential. Can you reliably estimate the time you need to write documentation? And the date when you can deliver?

Weber, Kai. Kai's Tech Writing Blog (2010). Careers>Writing>Planning>Estimating


Improving Documentation with Web Analytics, Rachel Potts at TCUK

I had never thought through how web analytics could be applied to documentation, so this was an insightful workshop for me. I believe that all three use cases can be applied successfully to complement user analysis and surveys. However, having documented web analytics software in a previous job, I am skeptical about any absolute numbers to come out of the analysis. Instead, I trust them more to indicate relative change or progress.

Weber, Kai. Kai's Tech Writing Blog (2010). Articles>Documentation>Assessment>Log Analysis


Index This!

An index is an important navigation device in documentation, especially in print. It helps users to quickly find key terms, concepts, functions, and instructions. In this post, I share my best advice about building an index.

Weber, Kai. Kai's Tech Writing Blog (2010). Articles>Indexing>Documentation


Learn from Your Topics and Collaborate

We tech writers can learn from our chunks of content: What makes a topic successful can also make us writers successful! I think there’s a lesson for tech writers here beyond team management: How successful you’ll be in your work as a tech writer depends on how well you define your job’s purpose and communicate it to others.

Weber, Kai. Kai's Tech Writing Blog (2010). Articles>Documentation>Technical Writing>Collaboration


Making It as a Lone Writer

Lone writers have their work cut out for them. But the lack of processes and resources also gives them flexibility and freedom to work towards improving both, the documentation and their situation.

Weber, Kai. Kai's Tech Writing Blog (2010). Careers>Writing>Technical Writing


Shape the Hype Cycle with Tech Comm

You can use technical communication to accompany and even nudge technologies and products along the hype cycle.

Weber, Kai. Kai's Tech Writing Blog (2010). Articles>TC>Marketing


Top 10 Reasons for Tech Writers and Trainers to Collaborate

Technical writers can and should collaborate with trainers to offer customers a unified and cost-effective learning experience. Here are eight specific reasons why they should collaborate – and two why they cannot afford not to do it.

Weber, Kai. Kai's Tech Writing Blog (2010). Articles>Collaboration>Instructional Design>Technical Writing


Top Four Steps to Solicit Perfect Documentation Reviews

To get the best possible reviews from subject matter experts (SMEs), we tech writers can prepare, make our expectations clear and help our reviewers excel at their job. Soliciting documentation reviews from SMEs can be tricky: They are usually very busy, juggling dozens of tasks, while putting off several more. The last thing they need is a writer to waltz into their office making a demand on their time. Here’s what I do to get an SME to review a manual of 100 pages or 25,000 words. It doesn’t work always, but it’s worth a try – they are the experts after all.

Weber, Kai. Kai's Tech Writing Blog (2010). Articles>Editing>Collaboration>SMEs


Top Ten Things that Users Want to Do in a Help System

Here are 10 things that users want to do in a help system – or a library or a department store… Some of them are kind of obvious, but I think it helps to consider all of them and how they relate to functions and options in a help system. Which ones you want to offer depends on your users, your product and your tech writing resources.

Weber, Kai. Kai's Tech Writing Blog (2010). Articles>Documentation>User Centered Design>Help


Two Words Every (Lone) Writer Should Know

Many technical writers, especially lone writers, wear many hats, and they like it that way. Some may proofread reports and marketing material, some may spruce up presentations, some may translate. It’s that variety that often makes a tech writer’s job more interesting. But it has two drawbacks that you might want to avoid if you want to heighten your profile and get recognized as a serious, responsible professional. Fortunately, each drawback can be deflected by a single word which you may want to add to your vocabulary.

Weber, Kai. Kai's Tech Writing Blog (2010). Articles>Collaboration>Technical Writing


Use a Style Guide as a Strategic Tool

You can use a corporate style guide to enforce the strategic development of your documentation.

Weber, Kai. Kai's Tech Writing Blog (2011). Articles>Documentation>Style Guides


Review: What Can We Learn from History?

Carliner tells a history in two parallel strands, first how TC evolved in a large IT company (IBM), and then how technological developments changed the TC workplace. Telling the histories one after the other makes for some redundancy; I’ll merge the strands into one in my summary.

Weber, Kai. Kai's Tech Writing Blog (2010). Articles>Reviews>History

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