A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.


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Animated Character Likeability Revisited: The Case of Interactive TV   (peer-reviewed)

Animated characters have been a popular research theme, but the respective desktop applications have not been well-received by end-users. The objective of this study was to evaluate the use of an animated character for presenting information and navigating music videos within an interactive television (ITV) application. Information was displayed over music video clips with two alternative user interfaces: 1) semi-transparent information overlays, 2) an animated character. For this purpose, the differences between ITV and desktop computing motivated the adaptation of the traditional usability evaluation techniques. The evaluation revealed that users reported higher affective quality with the animated character user interface. Although the success of animated characters in desktop productivity applications has been limited, there is growing evidence that animated characters might be viable in a domestic environment for leisure activities, such as interactive TV.

Chorianopoulos, Konstantinos. Journal of Usability Studies (2006). Design>Multimedia>Interactive>Video


Animation as Documentation: A Replication with Reinterpretation   (PDF)

Animated demonstrations are replacing text as the vehicle for documentation, help, and training on new software systems. An animated demonstration is a demonstration of a particular feature or features by a ghost user. The demonstration executes the procedure for performing a task, on-screen, as the user passively watches. Whereas research into the effectiveness of animated demonstrations has produced mixed results, certain patterns of behavior are emerging. The current study replicates the learning advantage offered by animated demonstration and shows that retention is equal to that of a group instructed by text after a one week retention interval. Implications for development of on-line training materials are discussed.

Lipps, Audrey W., J. Gregory Trafton and Wayne D. Gray. STC Proceedings (1997). Presentations>Documentation>Interactive


Animation: Technical Documents on the Move  (link broken)   (PDF)

Coleman presents a four-step process to develop an animation project while insuring consistency and quality.

Coleman, Mary Ellen. Intercom (2000). Design>Multimedia>Interactive


Balancing Visual and Structural Complexity in Interaction Design

Usability is based on principles such as 'Less is more' and 'Keep it simple, stupid'. But there is more to simplicity than meets the eye. By reducing visual complexity at the cost of structural simplicity, you will give your users a hard time understanding and navigating the content of a web site.

GUUUI (2003). Design>Web Design>Interactive>User Centered Design


Better Flash Websites

Alhough Flash has some intrinsic usability problems, designers can respect user expectations about consistency, accessibility, and common sense, and therefore make better Flash websites.

Baker, Adam. Merges.net (2001). Design>Multimedia>Interactive>Flash


Building Preloaders and Progress Bars in Macromedia Flash

One of the unique features of web content built with Macromedia Flash is the ability to control when and how the content loads. When loading a heavy HTML page, the user is usually stuck looking at a blank window until the content starts appearing. Flash allows for the creation of animated preloaders, which give the user precise information about the progress of the loading process. A simple rectangular progress bar or percentage indicator will do the job, but why stop there? A preloader should be given just as much love and consideration as the rest of the site content, especially on a site that is trying to evoke a mood, or create an immersive experience. If a preloader is engaging enough, the user won't mind waiting for content, and the time it takes to load will seem shorter. The preloader is the first element someone will see when visiting your site. You can make a good first impression by welcoming your visitors with a snappy preloader.

Hirsch, Joshua. Adobe (2005). Design>Web Design>Interactive>Flash


Can You Hear Me Now? I'm Podcasting

With a little bit of effort and a microphone, you can use podcasting to talk with millions of people. They key is creating something that is worth listening to.

Janisch, Troy. Icon Interactive (2005). Articles>Technology>Interactive>Podcasting


Componentes Problemáticos de Interacción Web

A continuación se exponen los que, desde mi punto de vista, considero componentes problemáticos a la hora de hacer uso de ellos en nuestras webs.

Hassan Montero, Yusef. Nosolousabilidad.com (2002). (Spanish) Design>Web Design>Interactive>Usability


The Content Expert as Designer - Empowering the Novice to Develop Effective Interactive Media   (PDF)

The field of visual communication design has the capacity and the responsibility of establishing effective communication tools for the untrained. This article will address the widening gap in the sophistication of design and content creation in the digital realm. The benefit of improving the online communicational space will be discussed along with the role of the creative professional. Finally, I will propose two solutions to the problem.

Bertsch, Blaine. University of Alberta (2003). Articles>Education>Interactive


Create a Client-Side Image Map

Want to add another dimension to your site's images? Consider using image maps. With an image map you can break up a single image into multiple clickable regions, each with it's own hot spot.

Shadovitz, Deborah. Mac Design Magazine (2005). Design>Web Design>Interactive


Creating Animated Graphics for the Web on a Tight Budget   (PDF)

Creating your own animated graphics is not as far out of reach as you may think. Even though many Web information developers lack the skills to venture into animation, in a relatively short amount of time they can learn how. We will demonstrate a few of the actual animations that we’ve created in-house, and also share what was involved in our decision-making: who should do the work, the costs involved, and the software issues we encountered.

Hamilton, Karen J. and Gary Basham. STC Proceedings (1998). Presentations>Multimedia>Interactive


Creating Events Using the EventDispatcher Class  (link broken)

Handle Flash events more efficiently in your code by using the event listener object model.

Toley, Kenneth J. III. Adobe (2004). Design>Web Design>Interactive>Flash


Creating Interactive Documents for PDF

Learn how to add movies, sound clips, and interactive buttons to an Adobe InDesign® CS document. When you export the document to Adobe® PDF, readers can view movies, play sound clips, and activate buttons in Adobe Acrobat® or Adobe Reader®. In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to add a movie and buttons that play, pause, resume, and stop the movie in the exported PDF document.

Adobe. Design>Document Design>Interactive>Adobe Acrobat


Design for Interaction   (PDF)

If you're familiar with the term user-interface (UI) design, you may think of it as the domain of software engineers. But software isn't the only product that has an interface - all products do, in fact. If you're one of the many designers who creates Web sites, PDF files, or other types of nonlinear or interactive publications, you can probably benefit from some of the principles of UI design.

Mullarky, Rick. Adobe Magazine (1998). Design>User Interface>Interactive


Designing Responsive Hypermanuals   (PDF)

The responsive hypermanual is a new method of delivering documentation that orders the contents of an online manual in response to the user’s current task. It uses hypertext modules controlled by an SQL database for managing the development, and presentation of modular documentation to provide a uniquely usercentric system. their needs. When the user asks technical support for help, they delegate the effort of assembling material scattered throughout the document into a meaningful answer.

Lettvin, David W. STC Proceedings (2000). Presentations>Documentation>Interactive>Personalization


Digital Production of Corporate and Industrial Videos: A Primer   (PDF)

Chu details the roles technical communicators will play in the production of corporate and industrial videos for training classes, employee communications, product manuals, user guides, and video press releases.

Chu, Steve W. Intercom (2002). Design>Multimedia>Interactive


Effects of Documentation Errors On User Perception of Interactive Programs: Background For a Study   (PDF)

Typographical errors and grammatical blunders affect the aesthetic appeal of documentation, and common belief is that they affect usability too. Many readers, however, seem not to notice such errors unless they are very frequent or flagrant. We thought it would be interesting, and perhaps useful, to test experimentally the effect of such errors on users’ perception of the information and on their performance with the product that the information supports the product.

Grice, Roger A. STC Proceedings (1994). Articles>Documentation>Interactive>Multimedia


Flash + Information Visualization = Great User Experiences

By combining tools like Flash and information visualization, designers can dramatically improve how users work with large, multidimensional data sets.

Klee, Matthew. User Interface Engineering (2002). Design>Web Design>Interactive>Flash


Flash 5: The Color Object

Give your visitors the option to control the color in your Flash movies by using the Color Object. An object is a piece of data (color, sound, movie, etc.) that contains a set of methods (the things that objects do).

Berg, Debbie. WebDeb (2002). Design>Web Design>Interactive>Flash


Flash and Web-Based Applications

In usability tests of 46 Flash applications, we identified several basic issues related to Web-based functionality's ephemeral nature. Some findings restate old truths about GUIs; others reflect the Net's new status as nexus of the user experience.

Nielsen, Jakob. Alertbox (2002). Design>Web Design>Interactive>Flash


Flash MX: Control Projector Files with the fsCommand

Flash provides a way to create a projector file—a self-executable application that doesn’t require the Flash player.

Berg, Debbie. WebDeb (2003). Design>Multimedia>Interactive>Flash


Flash Satay: Embedding Flash While Supporting Standards

I’ve worked with Flash for several years and have always been slightly dissatisfied with the markup needed to embed a movie in web pages. When I recently published a site in XHTML, my dissatisfaction with the markup grew as I realized that it simply wasn’t valid in this context and was bloating my pages to unacceptable levels. A leaner, standards-compliant method of embedding Flash movies was called for.

Mclellan, Drew. List Apart, A (2002). Design>Web Design>Interactive>Flash


Flash Strikes Back: Creating Powerful Web Applications

Flash is a powerful tool that offers developers huge capabilities. Until recently, developers mostly utilized Flash's strengths to create complex animations or fast-loading movies. However, the most recent versions of Flash offer developers power that's far beyond the tool's original scope. With the advent of Flash MX, we've seen that developers have the power to create web applications with more sophisticated client- and server-side interactivity. When integrated with sophisticated server-side software like ColdFusion Server and JRun, Flash delivers the power and flexibility to become a serious contender in the web application space.

Perfetti, Christine. User Interface Engineering (2002). Design>Web Design>Interactive>Flash


Flash: Create a Disjointed Rollover

While image rollovers are the standard for navigation, they do have some limitations. Would you like to create a rollover that doesn't have to be the same size as the original image, nor does it need to be stacked on top of the original image? That's what disjointed rollovers are all about, and Flash makes it easy to create rollovers that load quickly and look great!

Berg, Debbie. WebDeb (2002). Design>Web Design>Interactive>Flash


Forms as Design Elements

Before there was Java, before there was JavaScript, before there was Shockwave or FutureSplash or frames - hell, before there were tables - there were tools built into HTML that let you add interactivity, layer text, and generally differentiate your Web site from a hard-to-read magazine. Known as forms, they were developed as a uniform system for collecting user input on the Web. But feh! Who cares what they're supposed to do? When I look at pulldown menus, I see cleverly concealed sidebars; radio buttons and checkboxes become visual accents; and scrolling menus make me think, 'Hey, Bill, I got yer floating frame right here.'

Cohen, June. Webmonkey (1997). Design>Web Design>Interactive



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