We live in a world that, in many ways, has become shorter. Shorter messages. Shorter interactions. Shorter attention spans. And the popularity of services like Twitter encourage brevity, for better or for worse. As a writer of any stripe, you need to adapt to this change. And that’s idea underlying the book Microstyle by Christopher Johnson. The book is packed with solid advice on how to write compactly while still passing along useful information.
These days, we can’t escape writing for the online world. Whether you contribute to web-based publications, run your own blog, or are a freelancer or full-time employee doing corporate work, writing for the web has become an essential skill. While online writing shares a number of similarities with writing for print, it also has more than a few nuances that you need to learn. That’s where Writing for the Web by Lynda Felder comes in. It’s easily one of the best books that I’ve read on the subject. Writing for the Web is a thin book, weighing in at 181 pages. But those pages pack a lot of practical information. Whether you’re new to writing online or someone with more than just a little experience, you’ll learn something from this book.
Gretyl Kinsey, technical consultant at Scriptorium Publishing Services, gave an entertaining and informative presentation on content strategy at the April STC Carolina chapter meeting. Gretyl's presentation was followed by a lively question-and-answer session.
Can project management be an art? Has Berkun truly created a jargon-free guide for the whole project team? Kalbach leads us through the high-level tasks and the major milestones of this new book, while keeping us on task.
In recent years, an emphasis on quality has emerged in a variety of organizations and in several fields, including technical documentation. Producing Quality Technical Information (PQTI) was one of the first comprehensive discussions of the quality of documentation. An important contribution of the book is in identifying quality as multiple, measurable dimensions that can be defined and measured (previous views of quality identified it more as some elusive thing that could be identified if present but was difficult to articulate and describe). Despite its contributions to the quality discussion, PQTI runs the risk of simplifying the quality process, reducing quality to a simple checklist that information developers can use to develop effective documentation. PQTI fails to address the fluid nature of some aspects of quality: some dimensions that are important in assessing one document may be less important or irrelevant with other documents. Additionally, PQTI falls short of accounting for the larger contextual framing of documents--that the importance of individual dimensions of quality changes depending upon the audience, context, and purpose of the document.This commentary suggests that all quality efforts should be grounded in customer data and user-centered design processes, and that we should learn to better differentiate among quality dimensions, determining those dimensions that are essential to customer satisfaction and those that are merely attractive. Through increased attention to developing the quality of information, organizations can better differentiate their products and services, facilitate greater productivity, and increase customer satisfactions, all significant activities in an increasingly competitive marketplace.
The Darwin Information Technical Architecture (DITA) workshop, hosted by the STC Carolina Chapter on Saturday, October 17, taught me one fundamental thing about DITA – that audience is the focus of any good technical writer.
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.
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.
Beautiful Evidence is Edward Tufte's fourth and latest book and both follows and diverges from the directions established with The Visual Display of Quantitative Information (Tufte, 1983), Envisioning Information (Tufte, 1990), and Visual Explanations (Tufte, 1997). Visual Display examined pictures of numbers, Envisioning explored pictures of nouns, and Visual Explanations addressed pictures of verbs. Beautiful Evidence foregoes the 'pictures of' approach and instead establishes the role of evidence as the foundation of reasoning. In some ways, this latest book might have been better positioned as the first book because of its efforts to explain interplays of understanding and reasoning.
Marking up paper is still the most common way to review documents, but online review is critical if you work as part of a distributed team. There are advantages to online review even if you sit only a cubicle away from your reviewer. Here are few tips for making your online reviews go smoothly.
Given the choice, how many people would swap a gloriously sunny Saturday in Cambridge, England, for a 7-hour long tutorial about—wait for it—qualitative user research and analysis methods? Yet thirty odd people did just that, electing to closet themselves in one of the nicer rooms at Churchill College to listen to what UCD researcher David Siegel had to say. This tutorial turned out to be a highly motivating, fast-paced, and anecdote-rich journey through the process of designing and analyzing qualitative field work in a user-centered design (UCD) context.
While the potential return on investment may indeed be worth the effort, globalization and personalization come with substantial cost. To ensure you’re heading down the right path (and that you avoid the expensive mistakes of the trailblazers before you), it’s best to have a roadmap.
Combine the probing thoughts of media culture sage Marshall McLuhan with the visual insights of design guru David Carson and the result is the quintessential coffee table book for anyone that works with technology and design. The Book of Probes is an intentional chocolate-in-my-peanut-butter experiment to combine the ideas of McLuhan with the images of Carson in thought provoking ways.
This page provides links to book reviews related to technical communication. I am looking for book reviews to publish. Please email me if you have a review that you would like to see published here. Note that this is a non-commercial site -- I don't pay for reviews.
In a Thursday morning keynote at the MySQL Users Conference 2005, Google's Adam Bosworth advocated an open model for data. Although he was not referring to open source, he expanded upon the example by explaining that customers like open source software because of the transparency.
Rachel Andrew’s book is quite unconventional. Why? It takes Adobe’s Dreamweaver, the most-popular WYSIWYG web page IDE, and takes it on a long, hard-coding drive to create standards-compliant websites. Suffice to say, this book is intended for an intermediate to advanced-skilled audience.
What is likely to win the most converts is the joy Wroblewski takes in designing. This impression becomes clear as you page through the book. He isn’t just an ardent evangelizer, following the rituals of going to conferences selling snake oil. He’s been there in the trenches, just like you; he’s done this a hundred, maybe a thousand times. He’s tested these ideas and provides a framework for you to use from day one. Half the battle in good form design is defending your decisions to stakeholders.
Donna Spencer's new book, Card Sorting: Designing Usable Categories (2009, Rosenfeld Media) may be a breeze-through read, but don't be fooled by the direct, plain-language style into thinking that you can skim it and walk away a card-sorting expert. The book is meant to be read, used, then read again as a follow-along guide.
The Language of Corporate Leadership is a study of the written discourse of CEOs that is found in annual reports, corporate Web sites, congressional testimonies, and employee newsletters. The book contains 10 case studies of CEOs' writings from past and present megacorporations, including Enron, General Electric, Microsoft, Disney, and AOL. The organizations covered in the book represent both new and old economies and include two Canadian companies and a public-sector company. The authors, Joel Amernic and Russell Craig, are accounting and business professors and appropriately focus on accounting and financial reporting aspects of CEOs' written discourse.
Coming from a little start-up in Hungary, Prezi is a web app (Flas/Flex based) that lets you author and deliver what they call “zooming presentations.” The description is apt, as Prezi presentations aren’t actually based on a the traditional linear slide model. Instead, Prezi embraces a zooming user interface model in which blocks of content are arranged contextually in relation to other blocks of content – and the user can zoom in and out of the content, alternating between a “big picture” view and a “detail” view.
Having spent some time working with Cladonia's Exchanger XML Editor, I can attest to the claim that this is a good, solid, well-featured and extensible XML editor. However, the software is not suitable for authoring documents. It is designed for working with XML data in many forms, but it is not designed for textual content. Let me explain.
Credibility, persuasion, and influence are important characteristics of successful personal relationships and business. They are also important to creating effective web content, says Colleen Jones, regular contributor to UXmatters, principal and founder of Content Science, and now author of her first book titled, Clout: the Art and Science of Influential Web Content.
Online materials, as Johnson-Eilola points out, too often provide speed but neither learning nor conceptual information. Minimum information is often provided in help systems because there are no resources to provide more. But the result is often a system that, without any conceptual information, provides little more than help that is so obvious that it ceases to be helpful. Even when resources are constrained, help systems should, at a minimum, refer to external sources that can help users with important concepts behind the tasks they are trying to perform.