A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.

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Typography is the study and process of typefaces; how to select, size, arrange, and use them in general. Traditionally, typography was the use of metal types with raised letterforms that were inked and then pressed onto paper. In modern terms, typography today also includes computer display and output.

 

576.
#35030

Back-End Designs and the CMS Cycle of Disillusionment

Usually, the one thing missing from the planning of a WCM-driven web site is what's most likely to shoot the implementation in the foot: the functional design of the CMS back-end. The form and function of how the CMS will work, look and feel for the end-user of the system, not the visitor to the web site, is too often overlooked. This is odd: isn't the rationale for getting a CMS in the first place usually based on some kind of ROI in efficiency in actually producing the content and sites?

Bloem, Adriaan. CMSwatch (2009). Articles>Content Management>Information Design>Content Strategy

577.
#39224

Backing Up Word Templates and Shortcuts

If you’ve used Microsoft Word for any length of time, you’ve probably begun using its key automation features, such as macros and automatic text. If you’re as gung ho as I am, you’ve accumulated a significant collection of these shortcuts. You probably even depend on them for getting work done efficiently. You’ve also probably spent some time adding words to the software’s custom dictionaries, and may even have created specialized dictionaries for certain genres that have their own jargon. Wouldn’t it be a shame if you somehow lost all that hard work?

Hart, Geoffrey J.S. Corrigo (2016). Articles>Word Processing>Microsoft Word>Technical Writing

578.
#26745

"Backing Up" Doesn't Mean Retreating

Recently, several friends and colleagues have lost important files as a result of viruses, power failures, computer crashes, and miscellaneous other disasters that accompany working with computers. Each person could have minimized the consequences if they had developed and rigorously followed a simple backup strategy for their data. The fact that this happened to experienced computer users in each case leads me to believe that data loss is symptomatic of a broader problem: As technical communicators, our tight focus on documenting how to use a product sometimes makes us forget to document the consequences of using the product.

Hart, Geoffrey J.S. TECHWR-L (2006). Articles>Technology>Security

579.
#38045

Backpacks vs. Briefcases: Steps Toward Rhetorical Analysis

Students are digital natives who spend their days saturated in rhetorical messages that they have learned to decode quite well – for example, they can easily size up an instructor within moments of walking into the classroom. As students look at various messages from fashion advertising to political campaigning, they often decode and make sound rhetorical conclusions about these messages. This chapter helps students understand the rhetorical skills they already possess, transfer these skills to classroom projects, and become familiar with basic terms of rhetorical analysis used in the academy.

Carroll, Laura Bolin. Writing Spaces (2010). Articles>Rhetoric>Visual Rhetoric>Education

580.
#27362

Backtalk of a Situation (or Situational Feedback)

Making thoughts, ideas and plans explicit by writing them down or by developing an artifact, we create situations which talk back to us. For example, architects use the backtalk of their work extensively. When sketching, unexpecting patterns emerge, which are incorporated and maybe elaborated on in the drawing. Thus, the act of sketching is not only the conscious act of sketching the intended subject, but an interplay between the sketcher, the materials and possibly other situational constraints.

Soegaard, Mads. Interaction-Design.org (2006). Articles>Human Computer Interaction

581.
#35897

Backwards Compatibility in Office Open XML

As a member of my country's national standards body committee on electronic data processing, I lately spend considerable time deliberating what our position should be in the upcoming Office Open XML ISO Ballot Resolution Meeting in Geneva. My biggest objection concerns large parts of the standard that are proposed to live in an Annex containing normative descriptions of deprecated features that will only be used by existing binary documents. The rationale behind this decision is backwards compatibility. My opinion is that this solution is counterproductive for a number of reasons.

Spinellis, Diomidis. Spinellis (2008). Articles>Word Processing>XML>Microsoft Word

582.
#24577

A Bad Site: Martha Stewart Gets "Vasperized"

Even public relations web sites must be user-centered in design and content. Narcissistic, arrogant PR sites are counter-productive in the digital age of transparency, fault-admission, and altruism via shared information. Find out why Martha Talks is a web site failure from a usability and ethics point of view.

Streight, Steven. Blogger.com (2004). Articles>Web Design>Public Relations>Marketing

583.
#39114

Badass—An Interview with Kathy Sierra

Kathy Sierra is the author of many successful books, including the award winning Head First series with Bert Bates. She’s an in-demand conference speaker, trainer, programmer, and the founder of the online community JavaRanch. In this interview, she and Nicky Bleiel discuss her new book, Badass: Making Users Awesome.

Bleiel, Nicky. Society for Technical Communication (2015). Articles>User Experience>Information Design>Cognitive Psychology

584.
#30192

Baking up a Batch of PDF Files   (PDF)

Customize how Acrobat works for you by building and using batch sequences. The beauty of a batch sequence is that you can modify or run it as you like.

Baker, Donna L. Adobe (2007). Articles>Document Design>Software>Adobe Acrobat

585.
#31561

Review: Balanced Scorecard Step-by-Step: Maximizing Performance and Maintaining Results

Paul Niven's book is invaluable for communicators whose companies are implementing a Balanced Scorecard, and it can also provide a great deal of useful information on setting measurable goals for a staff function like communication to ensure it aligns with a company's strategy. The book provides easy-to-understand summaries of how various business processes work for communicators who want to better understand their businesses.

Sinickas, Angela D. Communication World Bulletin (2003). Articles>Reviews>Communication>Assessment

586.
#26446

Balancing Fidelity in Prototyping

Deceived by their ideas of what clients will accept, many web development teams build prototypes that are too costly and doesn't serve the purpose prototypes are supposed to. To exploit the full potential of prototyping, it's critical to choose the appropriate level of fidelity.

Olsen, Henrik. GUUUI (2005). Articles>User Interface>Prototyping

587.
#24913

Balancing Paper and Online: Integrating CD-ROM into Document Libraries   (PDF)

A panel of industry experts provides an overview of the CD-ROM publishing process—and its business issues, for technical communicators who are responsible for implementing CD-ROM publishing in their organizations. The panel will also discuss guidelines for integrating print and CD-ROM documents into a complete user support library, while still gaining the economies of CD-ROM publishing.

Gale, John, Stephanie L. Rosenbaum and Pamela Sansbury. STC Proceedings (1995). Articles>Documentation>CD ROM

588.
#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

589.
#22864

Balancing the Elements in Job Aid Design   (PDF)

Job Aids offer the Technical Communicator a unique opportunity to present acquired product knowledge in a creative format. In order to produce a successful job aid, you must select and blend elements of material, color, graphics, text, typography, and ergonomics in a manner that will be most useful to the intended user. The information for the Job Aid is culled from the larger project deliverables such as User Manuals or Procedure Guides; the creativity for the Job Aid comes from within and is driven by the needs of the user and the limitations of time, money, and environment.

Houterman, John and Kristine E. Henriksen. STC Proceedings (1997). Articles>Education>Tutorials

590.
#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

591.
#21601

Review: BAM! (Business Activity Monitoring)

BAM es el acrónimo de Business Activity Monitoring (Monitorización de la Actividad de Negocio), un campo emergente que promete incrementar la competitividad y la toma rápida de decisiones bien informadas, en la que la visualización de información tendrá un rol importante.

Dursteler, Juan Carlos. InfoVis (2003). (Spanish) Articles>Reviews>Software

592.
#35002

The Banality of Rhetoric? Assessing Steven Katz's "The Ethic of Expediency" Against Current Scholarship on the Holocaust   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Since 1992, Steven Katz's "The Ethic of Expediency" on the rhetoric of technical communication during the Holocaust has become a reference point for discussions of ethics. But how does his thesis compare to current understandings of the Holocaust? As this article describes, Katz was in step with the trend two decades ago to universalize the lessons of the genocide but his thesis presents key problems for Holocaust scholars today. Against his assertion that pure technological expediency was the ethos of Nazi Germany, current scholarship emphasizes the role of ideology. Does that invalidate his thesis? Katz's analysis of rhetoric and his universalizing application to the Holocaust are two claims that may be considered separately. Yet even if one does not agree that "expediency" is inherent in Western rhetoric, Katz has raised awareness that phronesis is socially constructed so that rhetoric can be unethically employed. Thus, rather than remain an uncritically accepted heuristic for technical communicators, "The Ethic of Expediency" can be a starting point for ongoing exploration into the ethical and rhetorical dimensions of the genre.

Ward, Mark. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication (2009). Articles>Education>History>Ethics

593.
#35905

Banding Together for Better Business

To the uninitiated, joining an association with dozens, even hundreds, of your competitors, could seem daft, to say the least. As for openly sharing information with them, well, you’d have to be nuts, wouldn’t you?

Thicke, Lori. GALAxy Newsletter (2005). Articles>Collaboration>Professionalism>Localization

594.
#38163

Banishing Your Inner Critic

Imagine you are standing on a bridge casting a net. Above the bridge is your conscious mind, where thoughts come and go like travelers visiting a fair. Below the bridge is your subconscious—the ever-flowing stream of random thoughts, with countless ideas darting through the water like schools of brightly-colored fish. As is often the case where bridges and streams are concerned, a cold and menacing troll lurks nearby. This troll is your “Inner Critic.” The troll, aggressive and mean-spirited, doesn’t give a lick about your Grand Ideas. The troll has but one purpose: to prevent the ideas which playfully zoom about your subconscious from being gathered into the net of your consciousness and made manifest in the world. The resourceful and clever troll employs many tools to complete its task, ranging from the subtle (distractions and boredom), to the complexities of perfectionism, to diminished confidence and a paralyzing fear of failure. When the troll is in its élan (which is far more often than we’d like), its efforts decrease your ideation and productivity, dampening your awesomeness.

Jacobs, Denise. List Apart, A (2011). Articles>Editing>Advice

595.
#24589

Banned from Other Blog Sites

Freedom of expression is not ruling the blogosphere, because insecure bloggers will block your attempt to post comments, or even read their blog, should they decide you are "too controversial" or "too different from me". Opinionated blogs are the worst culprits of cowardly post blocking.

Streight, Steven. Blogger.com (2004). Articles>Web Design>Writing>Blogging

596.
#35051

Bantamweight Publishing in an Easily Plagiarised World

Bantamweight publishing is popular among those who feel brevity is a virtue. But when an entire work of art is bounded in 140 characters, even brevity has its limits. Sometimes, squeezing in a proper attribution through editing content can change the original meaning, when the edits unwillingly shift from cosmetic to substantive.

Drapeau, Mark. O'Reilly and Associates (2009). Articles>Publishing>Online>Plagiarism

597.
#31147

Barrierefreie Informationstechnik: ein Thema nicht nur für behinderte Menschen   (Word)

Abgeflachte Bürgersteige, Rampen statt Stufen, tiefergelegte Busse - an den alltäglichen baulichen Barrieren für Kinderwägen und Rollstuhlfahrer wird gearbeitet. Im IT-Bereich dagegen ließ Barrierefreiheit bislang auf sich warten: Viele Websites sind nicht für jeden zugänglich. Mit dem Gesetz zur Gleichstellung behinderter Menschen sind öffentliche Institutionen seit Anfang Mai 2002 verpflichtet, ihre Websites barrierefrei zu gestalten.

Heuwinkel, Roland. Doculine (2002). (German) Articles>Human Computer Interaction>Accessibility>User Interface

598.
#30347

Barriers and Approaches to Reviewing Documentation

This article discusses some important issues in implementing a software documentation review process. If you are part of a small development organization and have few reviewer resources available, you may have to improvise techniques for providing the services and procedures suggested here.

Boston Broadside (1997). Articles>Documentation>Editing>Collaboration

599.
#37687

Barriers to Adoption and How to Uncover Them

Adoption is key to the success of products and services. When clients come to us to evaluate a concept, prototype, or completed product, the evaluation really boils down to one fundamental question: Will people use it? We think of adoption as continuous use throughout a product’s expected lifecycle. Thus, adoption is different from purchase behavior, which does not take a product’s actual usage into account. In evaluating products, we emphasize adoption over purchase behavior because adoption tends to lead to other important user behaviors such as customer loyalty, future purchases, and customers’ becoming brand advocates. In our experience, there are four factors that directly affect adoption: perceived value, confidence, accessibility, and trust. By understanding and assessing each of these factors, you can gain insight into how to maximize adoption.

Madrigal, Demetrius and Bryan McClain. UXmatters (2010). Articles>User Experience

600.
#33683

Barriers to DITA Adoption

As an independent consultant working mainly with small businesses I find that my clients are reluctant to commit to DITA for a number of reasons. As DITA authoring tools become more user-friendly and more readily available some of these barriers will begin to fade. But in general terms, the more DITA tools that become available, and the easier they become to use, the better for everyone.

Farbey, David. Blockhead Blog, The (2009). Articles>Information Design>XML>DITA

 
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