A person usually expects another person to behave according to accepted norms, but how does a person respond to a message that violates his/her expectations? One theory dealing with violations of expectations is Burgeon and Hale's (1) nonverbal expectancy-violations theory. This theory posits that, under certain circumstances, violations of social norms and expectations may be an effective strategy for communicators to achieve the intended communication purpose. Although the expectancy-violations theory focuses on expectations for nonverbal behavior, such as gaze and conversational distance (2), I believe that this theory can also apply to expectations for humancomputer interaction.
How can writers enhance their visual literacy in order to create effective online documentation? By partnering multimedia production expertise with technical writing expertise, DVS Communications and Bell-Northern Research (BNR) have co-developed an introductory course 'Words into Pictures' that stimulates visual thinking capabilities. This paper describes the main components of the course and illustrates its contribution to the success of BNR's online information system CADHELP.