A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.

Case Studies

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A Call to Action for Web Managers: Blow the Whistle

We had a huge, unruly Web site. It just had different graphics, a better-named Web team and more people shoveling on content and applications. Finally, out of desperation, we decided to try a new-fangled thing called a Web content management system.

Welchman, Lisa. WelchmanPierpoint (2009). Articles>Web Design>Content Management>Case Studies


The Accidental Beginning of a Highly Successful Special Interest Group (SIG)   (PDF)

SIGs exist to serve specialized needs within the greater organization. Special Interest Groups (SIGs) and Professional Interest Committees (PICs) are a tool by which the local chapters can serve a diverse range of special interests, boosting chapter membership. The Lone Star Chapter (Dallas/Fort Worth) began hosting SIG meetings three years ago. Currently, with four active SIGs, we are hosting an additional 100 to 200 members per month. This is how we built our SIGs to promote membership in STC. In the spring of 1990, a group of disgruntled contractors began to meet formally to discuss dissatisfaction with insurance plans for independents available through the society. We had been meeting informally for many years, to discuss the job market, rates available, and generally to gossip. We call it networking. personal contact or the sudden ice storm we had that night attendance was down significantly. From that point, we have kept a mailing list updated from our sign-in sheets, and sent postcard reminders about each meeting.

Steele, Karen A. STC Proceedings (1993). Articles>Collaboration>Case Studies>STC


Acclaimed Science Magazine "Discovers" Plone

DISCOVER Magazine, the magazine of science, technology and the future, recently launched a newly designed website on the open source Plone content management system (CMS).

Plone.org (2007). Articles>Content Management>Case Studies>Plone


Active Capture Design Case Study: SIMS Faces

We present a design case study for the SIMS Faces application. The SIMS Faces application is an Active Capture application that works with the user to take her picture and record her saying her name for inclusion on the department web page.

Chang, Ana Ramírez and Marc Davis. AIGA (2006). Articles>Web Design>Photography>Case Studies


AIGA Experience Design: Case Study Archive

Welcome practitioners, educators and students from all experience design disciplines! The goal of this archive is to build a teachable and learnable body of knowledge for the extended experience design community, which can be referenced and is freely accessible. These cases have been peer-reviewed and present best-practices from each year.

AIGA. Resources>Directories>Information Design>Case Studies


Are We There Yet?

It's true: even simple projects get messy. Christina Wodtke comes clean on Swiss Army knives, the writing on the wall, and the untidy glory of the Boxes and Arrows redesign contest.

Wodtke, Christina. Boxes and Arrows (2006). Articles>Web Design>Project Management>Case Studies


Aspects of Design Quality

Usability scores for 51 websites show some correlation between navigation, content, and feature quality, but no connections to other usability areas.

Nielsen, Jakob. Alertbox (2008). Articles>Web Design>Usability>Case Studies


The Association of Teachers of Technical Writing: The Emergence of Professional Identity   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This article attempts to summarize the history of ATTW. It focuses on issues that led to the need for an organization devoted to technical writing, and the individuals who were leaders in ATTW, as well as in NCTE and CCCC, whose efforts provided the foundation for the presence of technical writing as a legitimate teaching and research discipline. We draw on existing historical pieces and the contributions provided by many of the first ATTW members to capture the history of ATTW. We describe the major changes in ATTW from 1973-2007 and conclude with our reflections, as well as important questions we believe to be critical to the future of ATTW.

Kynell, Teresa and Elizabeth Tebeaux. Technical Communication Quarterly (2009). Articles>TC>History>Case Studies


The Atlassian Contributor License Agreement Comes of Age

In early March we opened up the Atlassian documentation to the wider community. We added a CC-by (Creative Commons Attribution) license to our product documentation. We invited people to contribute to our documentation after signing an Atlassian Contributor License Agreement (ACLA). At that stage, the ACLA was just starting its three-month trial. The trial period has now ended, and we're delighted to say: it's a go!

Maddox, Sarah. Atlassian Blog, The (2009). Articles>Documentation>Wikis>Case Studies


Automation of Documentation Submittals via HP Quick Test Professional

Are you a Web publisher or Web submitter who uploads documents manually? The primary role of a Web publisher is to publish content on the Web. The content being published could be in different file formats like html pages, pdf documents etc. A typical process involves a Web publisher uploading a document, entering the metadata for the document, and posting it to the Web. This effort is time-consuming. Is there any automated tool that can help Web publishers submit several documents automatically without having to enter the metadata of the documents manually and processing them? The answer is yes.

Basrur, Hemanth. Indus (2009). Articles>Content Management>Metadata>Case Studies


Best Practices: A Case Study at Kohler   (PDF)

The plumbing division of Kohler Co. is no stranger to managing their content. They had been using BroadVision's document-management system, Relation Document Manager (RDM), for three years and authoring in Interleaf since 1989. But when BroadVision stopped supporting RDM, Mark Peterson, the technical publications manager at Kohler, was desperate to find a replacement. BroadVision offered BladeRunner, but that tool didn't sufficiently support the heavy and stringent print requirements of Mark's department. Plumbers don't always have adequate or readily available access to the Internet.

Hedlund, Tina. ComTech Services (2003). Design>Web Design>Intranets>Case Studies


Beyond Staggered Sprints: How TheLadders.com Integrated UX into Agile

Agile has a relatively short history in the broader view of software development. Integration of User Experience into Agile has an even shorter history with relatively few stories of overwhelming success. Over the last eighteen months, we at TheLadders have had some successes—and some failures—in our foray into a post-waterfall way of developing elegant, efficient and sophisticated consumer-facing software. This is our story.

Gothelf, Jeff. Johnny Holland (2010). Articles>User Experience>Agile>Case Studies


Building a Taxonomy of a Firm’s Knowledge Assets: A Perspective of Durability and Profitability   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Managing their knowledge assets is an imperative issue for most organizations in pursuit of competitive advantage in the knowledge-based economy. Previous researchers have proposed a number of valuable taxonomies for classifying an organization’s knowledge assets. However, once knowledge assets are classified by such taxonomies as a particular type, they do not change type over time. Arguably, however, business contexts are swiftly changing, and knowledge assets may have to be constantly adapted to play new roles, and so a taxonomy capable of reflecting the changing relations between knowledge assets and environmental conditions is needed. This article proposes such a taxonomy which utilizes durability and profitability as dimensions. This taxonomy allows knowledge assets to change type in the light of the new condition. Additionally, it has the characteristics of demonstrating the alignment of assets with organizational strategies, and of being widely applicable in the for-profit sector.

Li, Sheng-Tun. Journal of Information Science (2010). Articles>Information Design>Taxonomy>Case Studies


Building Ease of Use Into the IBM User Experience   (PDF)

This paper provides an overview of the process and organizational transformation that IBM has gone through in improving the user experience with our offerings.

Vredenburg, K. IBM (2003). Articles>Web Design>User Experience>Case Studies


Building Twitter Bootstrap

Bootstrap is an open-source front-end toolkit created to help designers and developers quickly and efficiently build great stuff online. Its goal is to provide a refined, well-documented, and extensive library of flexible design components created with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript for others to build and innovate on. Today, it has grown to include dozens of components and has become the most popular project on GitHub, with more than 13,000 watchers and 2,000 forks. Mark Otto, the co-creator of Bootstrap, sheds light on how and why Bootstrap was made, the processes used to create it, and how it has grown as a design system.

Otto, Mark. List Apart, A (2012). Articles>Web Design>Standards>Case Studies


Building Usable Websites, Part 3

Website and software application usability is a classic intangible, hard to measure and even harder to sell to clients or management. Ironic, as I think it safe to say that at this stage in the game there are few sites that would not benefit from a usability survey and a bit of tweaking. Nevertheless, some companies have taken the cue and great usability case studies are beginning to emerge.

Shreves, Ric. Water and Stone (2008). Articles>Usability>Web Design>Case Studies


Business Information Through Spain’s Chambers of Commerce: Meeting Business Needs   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

From different public and private requirements, mechanisms have been set in action that allow for companies to obtain information in order to make decisions with a stronger foundation. This article is focused on the description of an entire information system for the business world, developed in the realm of the Chambers of Commerce of Spain, which has given rise to the creation of an authentic network of inter-chamber information. In Spain, the obligatory membership of businesses to the Chambers of Commerce in their geographic areas, and therefore the compulsory payment of member quotas, has traditionally generated some polemics, above all because many firms have not perceived a material usefulness of the services offered by these Chambers. Notwithstanding, the 85 Chambers currently existing in Spain, as well as the organization that coordinates them – the Upper Council or Consejo Superior de Cámaras de Comercio – and the company created expressly to commercialize information services online, Camerdata, have developed genuinely informative tools that cover a good part of the information demands that a business might claim, and these are described here.

Cañavate, Antonio Muñoz and Pedro Hípola. Business Information Review (2008). Articles>Business Communication>Case Studies>Europe


Can Filesharers Be Triggered by Economic Incentives? Results of an Experiment   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Illegal filesharing on the internet leads to considerable financial losses for artists and copyright owners as well as producers and sellers of music. Thus far, measures to contain this phenomenon have been rather restrictive. However, there are still a considerable number of illegal systems, and users are able to decide quite freely between legal and illegal downloads because the latter are still difficult to sanction. Recent economic approaches account for the improved bargaining position of users. They are based on the idea of revenue-splitting between professional sellers and peers. In order to test such an innovative business model, the study reported in this article carried out an experiment with 100 undergraduate students, forming five small peer-to-peer networks. The networks were confronted with different economic conditions. The results indicate that even experienced filesharers hold favourable attitudes towards revenue-splitting. They seem to be willing to adjust their behaviour to different economic conditions.

Quiring, Oliver, Benedikt Von Walter and Richard Atterer. New Media and Society (2008). Articles>Intellectual Property>Copyright>Case Studies


Case in Point: Cisco’s Model For Change Management

A few months ago, a company-wide team at Cisco Systems Inc. was challenged to come up with the best model for change management. Several team members had experience in change management through various disciplines, such as process management, HR consulting, communication, Six Sigma and IT. In the first meeting, the team recognized many factors that would affect how they moved forward: hundreds (maybe thousands) of models already existed, thousands of consultants had their favorite models and were eager to help, and employees were familiar with models from other companies.

Horn, Karen. Communication World Bulletin (2004). Articles>Business Communication>Management>Case Studies


The Case of the Missing Evite

Not only baby showers, but board rooms and caucuses are subject to missed invitations and can result in missed meetings, failed agreements, inaction, or incorrect action. The question is why did this, and more generally, why does this happen? And what can be done to prevent it from happening in the future?

Knudson, Brian. We Heart Theory (2009). Articles>Collaboration>Case Studies>Activity Theory


Case Studies: Profiles of Two Technical Communicators   (PDF)

Dr. Philbin and Dr. Ryan will first speak about creating and administering the survey and explain the reasons for conducting the survey. As husband and wife and as technical communicators, we will discuss our feelings about participating in the survey, working in the field, and our plans for the future. We encourage other technical communicators to examine their career goals as well. From the beginning, our relationship was linked to the technical communication field. We helped each other during our job interviewing processes and fortunately we both found jobs as Technical Communicators. While we have shared many of the same experiences, we have each experienced unique aspects of the profession. The discussion mainly focuses on the feelings, questions, plans, and expectations raised in the survey.

Theodore, Todd E. and Paulette R. Elsass. STC Proceedings (1993). Articles>TC>Case Studies


Case Study - Building a Usable Site

A website can be both attractive and easy to use. Usability and good looks aren't mutually exclusive and one doesn't necessarily have to negate the other.

SitePoint (2002). Design>Web Design>Usability>Case Studies


Case Study of Agile and UCD Working Together

This case study shows how the ComputerWeekly user experience team integrated with an agile development group. It’s important to note the methods we used do not guarantee getting the job done. People make or break any project. Finding and retaining good people is the most important ingredient for success.

Kelway, James. Boxes and Arrows (2010). Articles>User Centered Design>Agile>Case Studies


Case Study: Artorg Makeover

Artorg.co.uk is an online community for artists and designers. At first view, this is a really nice-looking site. It has an appealing, soft colour scheme offset with well-chosen graphics, and the content appears solid and orderly.

Hunt, Ben. Web Design From Scratch (2006). Design>Web Design>Redesign>Case Studies


Case Study: Discovering Plone Content Management System (Part 1)

DISCOVER Magazine, one of the most widely read science mags in the US, had out grown its dated Web Content Management infrastructure for www.discovermagazine.com. Times were changing, multi-media was big and in general Web and CMS technology had moved forward significantly. After analyzing current needs and taking stock of the Web CMS landscape DISCOVER ultimately selected the open source Plone platform. This is a two-part series where we look at the CMS features which convinced DISCOVER to chose Plone.

Paley, Scott. CMSwire (2007). Articles>Content Management>Case Studies>Plone



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