Some years ago, I used to suffer from developer neglect, or to use a more scientific term, from a kind of information exclusion complex. You know what I’m talking about. Developers make updates to the interface, often at the last minute, and don’t let the tech writer know what changed. As a result, the help is wrong and out of date. It’s a frustrating experience from the writer’s perspective.
Technical communicators today must document complex applications used in complex environments. Information about users and use models is important under these conditions, especially if documentation will be presented online. Customer partnering, a method of information gathering that supplements surveys, contextual inquiries, usability testing, and interviews, provides a way of involving the users of complex applications in the design of information delivery systems. We used this method to help a client gather important information about user and use models and design a new information library for complex server computer systems.
The first and most basic rhythm of the Agile feedback cycle is the daily standup. It's just what it sounds like - a daily meeting where everyone stands up for the duration of the meeting. When I give Agile workshops, one of the questions I'm often asked is how to do daily standups when the teams are geographically dispersed. While this can be a challenge to coordinate and maintain, you'll soon find that the benefits of the daily communication make it well worth the effort. Here are several options to consider with your team:
Some of the more intractable problems we face on the job are the human ones. But cranky though Microsoft Word often seems, most of its blowups are at least predictable; humans are anything but. The worst problems can arise when you find yourself in a situation where power relationships come into play, which is often the case when you're managing another employee and responsible for their work and their on-the-job behavior. For a variety of reasons, technical communicators are often seen as 'difficult' or 'problem' employees--this means that co-workers tend to complain about us and insist that our managers correct our behavior. Unfortunately, we often work in high-stress environments that make it difficult for us to work calmly and difficult for colleagues to work with us peacefully. Many communicators complain that developers and other subject matter experts (SMEs) don't bother to understand what we do and thus, don't respect our work. As a result, they often consider meeting their own deadlines far more important than helping us do our work, and when we must ask them to provide the information we need to complete our documentation or to review draft documents, we don't get what we need. The result? We're forced to nag, and that can get us labeled as problems, not colleagues.
You will usually find your university teammates as interested in learning as you are. Occasionally, however, you may encounter a person who creates difficulties. This handout is meant to give you practical advice for this type of situation.
I'm starting to wonder how many other people feel like they are being Twittered to death? Not just from the hundreds of tools out there to Tweet, search Tweets, or receive them, rather just the constant overload of articles, how-to's, and incorporation of Twitter into just about every topic across the board.
In this article, the authors argue that online learning conversations need to go beyond the common “information exchange” to a deeper level of interaction in order to help learners build situated knowledge that is useful in their local contexts. The article begins by looking at the commonly-used framework of a Community of Practice (CoP) and in particular, the challenges that designers can expect to encounter when knowledge building moves online, and conversants do not have a shared practice. The authors explain why this is problematic in terms of having insufficient grounding for the conversation and describe how online designers can compensate for the lack of shared practice by providing a common referent. Finally, the authors discuss three considerations that online designers should take into account in crafting a common referent (the richness of representation provided, the domain specificity required, and how the referent is conceptually framed) and explore their implications for both formal and informal learning environments.
Management is delegation. Either learn to delegate or you will be buried in work that others could, and should, be doing. The more people that a manager can put to effective use, the greater the success of the manager. The more efficiently a manger can put people to work, the greater the success of the manager. As you learn to delegate effectively, your productivity and value to a corporation rise.
Learning how to communicate effectively when people problems arise is a key to your success as a manager. To make the process easier for yourself, you should learn to set clear expectations of your employees, make specific observations of their work and behavior, conduct timely communication with them when problems arise, listen closely when they respond, and schedule a follow-up meeting after the crisis has passed.
Within democratic theory, the deliberative variant has assumed pre-eminence. It represents for many the ideal of democracy, and in pursuit of this ideal, online discussion forums have been proposed as solutions to the practical limits to mass deliberation. Critics have pointed to evidence which suggests that online discussion has tended to undermine deliberation. This article argues that this claim, which generates a stand-off between the two camps, misses a key issue: the role played by design in facilitating or thwarting deliberation. It argues that political choices are made both about the format and operation of the online discussion, and that this affects the possibility of deliberation. Evidence for the impact of design (and the choices behind it) is drawn from analysis of European Union and UK discussion forums. This evidence suggests that we should view deliberation as dependent on design and choice, rather than a predetermined product of the technology.
Guanxi referrals help identify potential business partners. Through guanxi networks, businesses can establish favourable and mutually beneficial relationships vital to business success. Guanxi carries assumed knowledge of trust and facilitates business references. It is the construct of `face' that underpins this trust. The high degree of trust in guanxi networks facilitates the flow of strategic information and knowledge, further adding value to business. This article illustrates through case studies how guanxi relationships are formed and how knowledge in guanxi networks can benefit business. The case studies are drawn from experiences of three Europe-based Chinese business directors.
I would like to encourage the community to talk about the need for professional networks within the information architecture field, especially as it relates to creating successful software and information systems. And, I would like to compare our needs in the field of IA with the systems that have been used in other areas to determine if we can develop an appropriate support system in moving towards specialization in our profession.
WebFeat is a web development effort by about 40 students, faculty and staff in the College of Engineering at the University of Washington. In this design environment, the challenges of building community among the members of the design team are substantial. We devised a suite of tools and processes designed to foster a sense of community and participation in the development process, as well as to lay the groundwork for participatory maintenance of the site in the future.
What is your understanding of the dynamics of the Client/Creative relationship? I've heard lots of opinions and countless complaints, but in all my wanderings, I have yet to find a good, non-legalese consensus of what we should expect of each other.
At a project’s start, the possibilities are endless. That clean slate is both lovely and terrifying. As designers, we begin by filling space with temporary messes and uncertain experiments. We make a thousand tiny decisions quickly, trying to shape a message that will resonate with our audience. Then in the middle of a flow, we must stop and share our unfinished work with colleagues or clients. This typical halt in the creative process begs the question: What does the critique do for the design and the rest of the project? Do critiques really help and are they necessary? If so, how do we use this feedback to improve our creative output?
Provides an overview of a product design process, then discusses some indispensable activities that are part of an effective design process, with a particular focus on those activities that are essential for good interaction design. Although this column focuses primarily on activities that are typically the responsibility of interaction designers, this discussion of the product design process applies to all aspects of UX design.
On a recent project a client confessed some small degree of envy of Cooper’s team structure. He was the sole designer at a medium sized software company doing good work, but unsatisfied doing it alone. In our short project he was able to see the value of paired design and wasn’t looking forward to heading back to business as usual. I’ve got four ideas on what someone can do in this circumstance, but first let me extol the virtues of Paired Design.
The two main drivers for a successful relationship were to respect each other’s opinion and to use active listening to understand what the other was saying.
Recently a member of the global coworking mailing list, Joseph Holsten) recently created what’s essentially a recipe book of ‘how to’ guides for those seeking to setup a coworking community, coworking space or simply better operate the communities and spaces they’re already running.
In our design review sessions, a couple of members from our eight-person team share what they’re working on and ask questions about challenges they’re facing. We provide feedback and critique their project. If you’ve ever participated in a creative writing group, the design review works similarly. Team members use common sense and experience to guide their questions and reviews. Somewhat in contrast to a creative writing group, though, you don’t have to bring a finished piece to share.
Formal corporate models that standardize collaborative processes into rigid templates and flow charts can actually become anti-collaborative and isolate team members from each other. This divisionary effect is particularly problematic for World Wide Web hypertexts, which often require on-going, dynamic collaborations between professionals with diverse specializations. In this article, we examine collaborative processes through theory and two Web project team interactions: one that reflects a failed formal process model, and one that represents a more successful dialogic model. Because dialogic models are non-formal and inherently adaptable, they are thus stronger process models for collaboration, particularly for Web design projects.
Defining a 'designated user community' for a data collection is essential to good scientific data stewardship. It enables data managers to determine what information is necessary to ensure the usability of the data now and into the future. It helps managers present and enable access to the data and may determine the format of the data. However, defining a community is difficult, and it is impossible to predict how the use of a data collection may change over time. This creates a series of data management problems for data stewards that may be mitigated by a set of best practices.
When did marketing become the Evil Empire? Why is it that marketers are seen as crass manipulators, battling to the death with their pure-hearted UX counterparts? What if you're trying to do both, and doing it for the good of your users?
In May 2007, the Department of English at Utah State University (USU) redesigned its computer lab to increase mobility and collaboration during writing projects. Our study shows that despite the Professional and Technical Communication (PTC) field's efforts to promote writing as a socially active, collaborative practice, many students view computer labs as spaces for conducting isolated, single-authored work. In this article, we discuss how a combination of movable furniture and mobile technology, including wireless access and laptops, can enhance student collaboration in group-based writing assignments. The lab included both desktop and laptop seating areas, so the authors created a modified worksite analysis designed to evaluate team collaboration in this new layout. These material changes in the lab allow students to configure the space according to their needs, offering them some measure of control over three crucial elements of successful collaboration: formality, presence, and confidentiality.