A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.

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“About Us” Doesn’t Have to be All “Ugh.”

No matter how beautifully designed, if a site’s voice doesn’t ring true, it’s easy to spot an “ugh.” Rather than using this section of a site like a congratulatory press release, consider approaching “About Us” like a magazine’s Editor Letter.

Vollenweider, Julie. Brain Traffic (2009). Articles>Web Design>Writing>Business Communication


Coming Out of the Dark: Using Your Web Site for Crisis Communication

When SwissAir Flight 111 crashed off the coast of Nova Scotia in early September of 1998, most people didn’t realize the accident would begin to usher in a new era—using the Internet for crisis communication. In the years since, more and more companies and not-for-profits have jumped on the bandwagon and identified their web sites as critical tools for crisis communication response, particularly since Sept. 11.

Bagg, Frederick C. Communication World Bulletin (2004). Articles>Business Communication>Web Design>Crisis Communication


Communicating Corporate Ethos on the Web: The Self-Presentation of Public Relations Agencies   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This research examines credibility in the discourse offered on the corporate Web sites of 60 British, Danish, and Norwegian public relations (PR) agencies. This study’s purpose was to see whether the North European PR industry moves in the direction of convergence or divergence in their corporate self-presentations. The authors have done this by unfolding the rhetoric and language of PR agencies Web sites. In this process, this study tried to determine whether the rhetorical strategies they use to achieve credibility show signs across the industry of becoming more focused on the responsibilities, enthusiasm, and caring nature of corporations and less directed at communicating expertise. Thus, the study expected to show whether PR agencies seek to build credibility by way of much the same rhetorical strategies and language, or whether they pursue different strategies in trying to build unique images. In analyzing the data, it is found that PR agencies across the three countries assign similar relative importance to expertise, trustworthiness, and empathy, and interestingly also that they strongly prioritize explaining their expertise at the expense of expressing their empathy for clients. To begin to understand this reluctance toward incorporating empathy in discourse, the authors investigate the linguistic representation of this one central dimension to explain its complexity and to point to the potential of an untapped resource for strategically managing self-presentation in business communication.

Isaksson, Maria and Poul Erik Flyvholm Jørgensen. JBC (2010). Articles>Web Design>Business Communication>Public Relations


Comprehending the Google Dance to Stay Updated

The updating of massive indexes by Google is not a smooth affair by any means. Notably, as a result of updating process, old indexes do not simply yield to new indexes, but there is quite an haphazard movement in transition. It takes a couple of days for Google to complete its update. Especially during this period, both old and new indexes get their place on www.google.com, albeit alternatively or even in unpredictable ways before new indexes stabilize there for all to see. The fluctuations witnessed on Google between transition from old indexes to new indexes seem as if Google were dancing. Hence, in SEO parlance comes the word Google Dance. Varying indexes have a say in the final rankings just when PageRank calculation sets in action. So, the fluctuating indexes of your site should not be a cause of concern when Google is dancing. Wait for Google to come to a halt and you will see all the things stabilize.

Azam, Rahbre and Tabassum Naz. Amateur Writerz (2008). Articles>Web Design>Business Communication>Search Engine Optimization


Content Hypertext Spam

Hiding a commercial ad in editorial text is the latest form of internet garbage. Content Hypertext Spam refers to a link within an article that users assume will lead to relevant content, further information on the topic. Wrong. It deceptively leads to an irrelevant site that tries to sell something. Discover the 14 reasons why this new gimmick is damaging to users and webmasters alike.

Streight, Steven. Blogger.com (2004). Articles>Business Communication>Web Design>Spam


Critical Reviews of Corporate Websites

Let's start with a single, seemingly simple premise: A website's main page should allow users to find the answers to basic questions. Amazingly, this fairly obvious rule is often ignored.

Rosenfeld, Louis. CIO Magazine (2000). Articles>Web Design>Business Communication


Designing User Interfaces For Business Web Applications

Business Web application design is too often neglected. I see a lot of applications that don’t meet the needs of either businesses or users and thus contribute to a loss of profit and poor user experience. It even happens that designers are not involved in the process of creating applications at all, putting all of the responsibility on the shoulders of developers.

Jovanovic, Janko. Smashing (2010). Articles>Web Design>Business Communication>User Interface


Don't Waste Money On A Business Blog

Don't waste your money on a business blog (unless search engine marketing is an important piece of your overall marketing efforts and you're going to invest the time and effort into making it work).

Jehring, Ben. SmallBox (2009). Articles>Web Design>Business Communication>Blogging


Grammar on the Web: Some Rules of Thumb for Business

Now that Twitter’s 140 character limit has become commonplace, web shorthand techniques are once again in full use. So what should you, as a businessperson, know about grammar use on the web? Is it ever appropriate to use this type of language shorthand? It’s actually a complicated matter, which is why I’ve written up this short guide on grammar on the web for business.

Parr, Ben. Open Forum (2009). Articles>Web Design>Business Communication>Grammar


The Influence of High- and Low-Context Communication Styles On the Design, Content, and Language of Business-To-Business Web Sites   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Language and communication, especially high- versus low-context communication styles, have been shown to lead to differences in Web sites. Low-context communication provides the lowest common denominator for intercultural communication through the Internet by making messages linear, articulated, explicit, and therefore easier to understand in the absence of contextual clues. Based on theories of intercultural business communication and recent empirical studies, this article investigates how communication styles influence Web site design and content. It is hypothesized that, for the global audience, Web sites from low-context communication countries are easier to find, use colors and graphics more effectively, make navigation more user-friendly, contain more corporate and product information cues, and offer more contract- and relationship-related content than Web sites from high-context communication countries. This article also contributes to international business communication by investigating the choice of languages in business-to-business (B2B) Web sites. Empirical findings confirm the influence of high- versus low-context communication styles through systematic content analysis of 597 B2B Web sites in 57 countries. High-context communication style may be detrimental to the design of global Web sites, making them less readable, less effective in their use of colors and graphics, and less interactive for the globally dispersed users.

Usunier, Jean-Claude and Nicolas Roulin. JBC (2010). Articles>Web Design>Business Communication>Rhetoric


Investor Relations (IR) on Corporate Websites

Individual investors are intimidated by overly complex IR sites and need simple summaries of financial data. Both individual and professional investors want the company's own story and investment vision.

Nielsen, Jakob. Alertbox (2009). Articles>Web Design>Business Communication>Usability


Is Your Homepage Immature?

Every large corporation has a marketing strategy that outlines what it wants to say to customers, but many of them still aren’t using their homepages effectively to highlight that message.

Young, Indi. Adaptive Path (2005). Articles>Web Design>Business Communication>Marketing


Seven Debilitating Diseases of Business Websites (and Their Cures)

If you're a site doctor like me, you see a lot of sick websites on the Net. Yes, they work, but even when sites are treated with massive doses of cold medicine, visitors quickly see symptoms that make them want to back away. Most of these problems are design flaws: not mediocre graphics, but basic flaws in the planning and execution of the site itself.

Wilson, Ralph F. Web Marketing Today (1998). Articles>Web Design>Business Communication


Seven Steps to Employee Portal Nirvana (Or at Least a Portal That Really Works)

Confusing. Frustrating. Underutilized. Time-consuming. If you are like most communicators, these are just some of the words that come to mind when thinking about your organization’s employee portal. Intranets and employee portals have long been plagued by numerous challenges, including limited funding, poor navigation, content overload and changing technology. Add in growing user expectations, disengaged executives and differing opinions about what portals are and how they deliver tangible value, and it’s no wonder they are such sore spots for communicators.

Rudnick, Michael. Communication World Bulletin (2004). Articles>Web Design>Intranets>Business Communication


Should Businesses Embrace the Blogging Phenomenon?

When news reports announced that Apple Computer was suing unnamed individuals (presumed to be employees) who had allegedly leaked information about a prototype Apple product to several blog news sites, it raised a number of questions. What does the lawsuit mean for freedom of expression and the role of journalists who serve an information-hungry audience? How will the courts balance the fundamental right of freedom of expression against a company's claims that trade secrets have been violated on a blog?

Blackshaw, Pete. Communication World Bulletin (2005). Articles>Web Design>Business Communication>Blogging


A Small Business Guide to Wikis

Social technology has risen to meet this challenge over the last few years. And while there are a lot of social tools to choose from, one type stands out for this type of collaboration: the wiki. The unique communication model inherent in the wiki makes it ideal for becoming a central business tool for your entire team. The following is an overview of using wiki software for small business.

Parr, Ben. Mashable (2009). Articles>Web Design>Business Communication>Wikis


This Just In---Managing Corporate Crises in an Electronic Age   (PDF)

Shortly after Martha Stewart was accused by the government of lying to cover up her sale of Imclone stocks, she set up a web site www.marthatalks.com to tell her side of the story Firestone/Bridgestone and Ford took the same step in the wake of their crisis. These corporations and many others use their web sites to tell their own side of the story in a climate where competing news outlets in their rush to be the first to break a story, may sacrifice accuracy. In this paper, we examine the Internet, both as a crisis “activator” as well as an effective tool in crisis management and communication. We use relevant case studies to support the assertion that if used properly, the Internet can be an effective and proactive crisis communication tool.

George, Amiso M. and Matthew Friedman. Association for Business Communication (2004). Articles>Web Design>Business Communication>Civic


Turning Web 2.0 Into Business As Usual

Web 2.0 is hip, trendy, and reminiscent of catch-phrases from the Dot-com boom when just about anything related to binary was so “Now.” Experts are frantically pushing non-digital natives to get on board with Web 2.0 absolutely yesterday, if not sooner. The good news is if you’re reading this article online, there’s a good chance you have already been onboard with Web 2.0 principals for quite some time. The question is, have you been using them effectively?

Harris, Kerri. TechCom Manager (2008). Articles>Web Design>Business Communication>Social Networking


A Useful Addition to any Business Website

I’ve used this code in a large amount of business websites I’ve produced. It allows users to see at a glance whether a business is open or closed. If the time is within the specified hours, it will display an open image, if it any other time, it will display the closed image. It is easy to implement and looks great on a store hours page. It goes by the time of your server however so if your server is in a different timezone, adjust the hours accordingly.

Haig, Anders. ReEncoded (2008). Articles>Web Design>Business Communication


Web Design by Designers

Designers are, as a rule, a fussy bunch, and when it comes to their own business communications they’re even more so. Designing a website for an award-winning design firm verges on the impossible. A design firm’s web presence primarily serves as a tool to attract new business from a global community—and, secondarily, as a means to show off. Designers are by far their own worst critics, and their websites have to tread a fine line between being cutting-edge so as to attract young new business, and more traditional so as to appeal to established or more conservative businesses.

Elam, Kimberly. Digital Web Magazine (2008). Articles>Web Design>Business Communication>Assessment


Web Development: A Missing Link in Business Communication Textbooks?   (PDF)

This paper compares the treatment of Website development in business communication textbooks to that in technical communication textbooks. Compared to technical communication textbooks, those in business communication give relatively little attention to Website development. We suggest that graduates of business communication courses may require some background in Website development in order to perform or oversee Website development activities effectively once they enter professional positions. Given these situations, we outline core concepts and competencies related to Website development for students in business communication.

Riley, Kathryn L. and John Spartz. Association for Business Communication (2004). Articles>Education>Web Design>Business Communication




Nielsen, Jakob. Usability.gr.jp (2009). (Japanese) Articles>Web Design>Business Communication>Usability

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