A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.


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The Dangers of Personalization

Personalization is coming to technical communication, and the results may not be pretty. n offering the individual an opportunity to pick and choose among XML content objects, we risk causing confusion when the organization of the site appears to shift, and familiar landmarks disappear. Critical content may become invisible to the user. The very process of creating preferences, custom options, or an entire personal profile adds a complex distraction that many users may resent, because it takes them away from their original task for so long that they forget what they were doing. Even advanced search mechanisms, which promise to pinpoint the exact information object the user wants, risk baffling users with their own complexity.

Price, Jonathan R. Communication Circle, The (2001). Presentations>Information Design>Personalization


The Dark Side of Digital Backchannels in Shared Physical Spaces

Recently, I've been disturbed to read about some significant frontchannel disturbances arising through the use of Twitter backchannels to heckle speakers at conferences. I want to revisit some issues that initially arose [for me] 5 years ago, surrounding the use of another backchannel tool in another conference context, and reflect a bit on the dark side of how Twitter can leave us vulnerable to maliciously consequential strangers, even when we are in the same physical place ... and in some cases, especially when we are in the same physical space.

McCarthy, Joe. TypePad.com (2009). Articles>Presentations>Social Networking>Ethics


Data Collection and Analysis: A Look at Process-Oriented and Product-Oriented Field Studies   (PDF)

This paper discusses methods for identifying, collecting, and analyzing field data for product design. We present three examples of field studies (one focused on the use of a specific product and two focused on more general user processes) to illustrate how the type of study can affect field methods. In the product-oriented study, observers built an understanding of the work environment by looking at how the users interacted with the product and how the product affected their work, identified patterns of activity, and offered explanations for these activities. In the processoriented studies, observers built an understanding of the work process and made recommendations about how to support it.

Schulz, Erin Leanne, Judith A. Ramey and Denise Carlevato. STC Proceedings (1996). Presentations>Usability>Methods


Dealing Proactively with Audience Questions

What’s the best way to handle questions from the audience when presenting? This podcast examines key things you can do to deal proactively with audience questions.

Still, Brian. IEEE PCS (2008). Articles>Presentations>Audio>Podcasts


Dealing with a Presentation-Room Nightmare

We dream of presenting in the ideal auditorium or conference room – one that has the latest audiovisual equipment, excellent acoustics, good lighting, comfortable seating and unobstructed views. But such dream rooms are rare, and we've all been saddled with locations far from this ideal. It's at this time a speaker needs to think fast and make the best of a bad situation.

Kasuya, Richard T. Presentations (2003). Articles>Presentations


Dealing With Special Mobility Needs: A Lesson in Patience and Coping   (PDF)

A great deal has been done over the years to make the lives of people with special needs easier. However, a great deal more needs to be done. This is an article about the special mobility needs of a career technical communicator. Through personal anecdotes and observations, the author establishes the point that the only way to really treat people with special needs fairly is to actually sit with them and understand what they are going through.

Vais, Fabien. STC Proceedings (2000). Presentations>Accessibility


Debunking the Boredom Myth of Technical Writing

Several weeks ago I wrote about my trip to Brigham Young University-Idaho and the presentation I gave there titled “Debunking the Boredom Myth of Technical Writing.” This podcast is a recording of my presentation.

Johnson, Tom H. Tech Writer Voices (2008). Presentations>Writing>Technical Writing>Podcasts


Decision Making: A Missing Facet of Effective Documentation   (peer-reviewed)

The old school of software interface design and document writing took the view that if the user could find the information someplace, the user could use it. But simply sticking in details ignores how readers access and process information.

Albers, Michael J. ACM SIGDOC (1996). Presentations>Documentation>Management


Defining The Control Level When Designing Hypermedia Training   (PDF)

Before coding any part of a hypermedia computer-based training (CBT) system, designers need to decide how much control their users should have over their individual paths through the system. Designers can choose from three different levels of control within a hypermedia CBT system: complete computer control, complete user control, and adaptive computer control. Each level of control is suited to different types of audiences and system goals. Current research provides some guidelines for designers—showing which types of audiences and system goals are suited to which methods of control.

Weise Moeller, Elizabeth A. STC Proceedings (1994). Presentations>Information Design>Hypertext


Degrees of Edit   (PDF)

The levels of edit concept can be a valuable editorial tool, especially to clarify for staff what editors do with documents. However focusing on degrees of edit (light, medium, and heavy) can simplify decisions about editorial work on a document. Dividing heavy edits into macro edits and micro edits can clarify what editors do in editing a document thoroughly. This presentation simplifies the editorial process by examining the three different degrees of edit and establishing the aims and procedures for macro and micro editing.

Samson, Donald C., Jr. STC Proceedings (1993). Presentations>Writing>Editing


Delivering Customer Satisfaction: Our Experiences with Responding to Customer Feedback   (PDF)

The success of an organization that publishes product information depends on customer satisfaction. IBM Product Announcement Support representatives share their experiences in achieving very high levels of customer satisfaction. * How we conducted our surveys and feedback sessions: – Actual approaches – Sample surveys and feedback * How we used this feedback to: – Change the content and format of our deliverable dramatically – Offer our customers additional ways to access product information As writers in IBM Product Announcement Support, our mission is to produce high-quality, effective offering information worldwide. Simply put, we publish IBM product announcements on the full range of IBM hardware, software, and services.

Howell Betz, Margaret. STC Proceedings (1996). Presentations>Usability>User Centered Design


Delivering Dynamic Content   (PDF)

Cisco Systems IOS ITD Documentation group had a requirement to move to the dynamic delivery of documentation to their customers. This meant that the documentation had to be redesigned using a component architecture, moved to XML, and delivered through a personalization engine. This session discusses this process and the results.

Badre, Albert and Sharon Laskowski. STC Proceedings (2001). Presentations>Information Design>XML


Demystifying ISO and QS 9000   (PDF)

Inadequate document control/documentation causes most ISO 9000 audit failures. For certification in ISO, QS 9000 and related standards, quality programs must be clearly documented through a series of controlled, sequential documents. This paper will overview how to do it successfully.

Paradis, Gerard. STC Proceedings (1996). Presentations>Workplace>Standards>ISO 9000


Deployment Scenarios for Web Service Discovery

Several Web service discovery technologies including Universal Description, Discovery and Integration (UDDI), Web Services Metadata Exchange (WS-MEX) and other lightweight protocols and techniques can be used for particular scenarios. This presentation will discuss the status of each of these technologies and how they relate to the Web services stack as well as which technology should be employed to solve certain types of Web service integration problems.

Hately, Andrew. IDEAlliance (2004). Presentations>Web Design>XML


The Design Difference: A Survey of Design and Innovation Amongst Ireland’s SMEs   (PDF)

Irish companies that use design are more successful than those that do not. Why are companies that use design more successful than those that do not? We don’t fully know why – yet – but the research tells us that companies using design are less risk averse and more likely to be developing new products and services. It also tells us they’re less likely to be competing on the basis of price. It suggests that they’re growing and succeeding because they’re innovating and moving. They’re not waiting on the challenges of the global economy, they’re using design to meet them head on.

Center for Design Innovation (2007). Presentations>User Experience>SMEs>Ireland


Designing a Presentation

You will not draw any slides—in fact do not even launch PowerPoint—until step eight, 80% of the way through the process. Typically, when you want to create a presentation, you open PowerPoint and start creating slides. Slide one, slide two, … slide seventeen… what I am trying to say again? Am I making my point?

Abela, Andrew. Extreme Presentation Method (2008). Articles>Presentations>Planning>User Centered Design


Designing a Supplementary Web-Based Online Help System: A Case Study   (PDF)

Computerized Medical Systems, Inc. (CMS) has implemented an extensive online help system based on HTML for its FOCUS radiation therapy planning system. Netscape Navigator was selected as the browser because FOCUS is based on the UNIX platform and Netscape was the only HTML browser available for UNIX.

Watson, Frank. STC Proceedings (2000). Presentations>Documentation>Online>Help


Designing an Online Help System Before the Interface is Ready   (PDF)

Developing a Windows online help system that clients can use effectively and bringing it in on time and within budget is a challenging task. You can dramatically improve your chances of success by doing the following: Develop help as sofnvae is being developed (and even before!); Chunk information for easy reading and to facilitate reuse by other writers; Create design and style guidelines to cut down peer review and editing time; Develop and use information webs to cut down on technical review time; Integrate the information web and the user interface to complete your help system.

Henselmann, Mary Anne. STC Proceedings (1997). Presentations>Documentation>Help


Designing Bilingual Web Sites   (PDF)

My paper discusses the specific challenges associated with designing a Chinese-English Web site in Taiwan for both local and English-speaking audiences abroad. My paper seeks to answer this umbrella question: How can we integrate the Chinese and English portions of the site into a single, consistent presentation? Using an example of a Taiwan-based company, I explore how technical communicators working on this bilingual Web site project (1) developed content in English that is suitable both for native English speakers around the world; (2) reconciled different audience responses to visual communication strategies; (3) tackled the technological challenge of a bilingual Web site; and (4) addressed the cultural and political challenges of developing a Web site for diverse audiences.

Chu, Steve W. STC Proceedings (1999). Presentations>Web Design>Regional>China


Designing conference posters

A scientific poster is a large document that can communicate your research at a scientific meeting, and is composed of a short title, an introduction to your burning question, an overview of your trendy experimental approach, your amazing results, some insightful discussion of aforementioned results, a listing of previously published articles that are important to your research, and some brief acknowledgement of the tremendous assistance and financial support conned from others. If all text is kept to a minimum, a person could fully read your poster in under 10 minutes.

Purrington, Colin. Colin Purrington (2012). Design>Presentations>Posters>Scientific Communication


Designing Effective Graphics Using MATLAB

This PowerPoint file of 40 slides explains the types of graphs (line graphs, column or bar charts, pie charts, and ribbon graphs) that may be prepared with Matlab software. It tells how to choose the right one for the type of data to be displayed, taking into consideration the engineer’s purpose, audience, and context. It also demonstrates the commands used to make the graphs legible and easy to interpret.

conneXions (2008). Presentations>Scientific Communication>Technical Illustration>Charts and Graphs


Designing Effective PowerPoint Presentations

This 52-slide, illustrated presentation covers a wide variety of key topics about preparing PowerPoint slides.

Business Communication (2009). Presentations>Advice


Designing Effective Single Source Materials   (PDF)

People often have to create documents for different audiences and for different media, (e.g. web, Help, training). However, timelines and budgets for developing information are often tight. This means we have to find more efficient ways to develop information. One way is to consider single sourcing information for multiple users and media. While single sourcing does take more up-front planning, it can significantly decrease costs and development times once implemented.

Rockley, Ann. STC Proceedings (2000). Presentations>Documentation>Single Sourcing


Designing for Single Source   (PDF)

“Single source” has come to mean many things to many different people. The basic distinctions are two: (1) distributing the same content in multiple formats and (2) distributing complementary content in the most appropriate medium. The two concepts are not mutually exclusive, i.e., you may have an information strategy that encompasses both ideas. Each methodology has its own advantages, suitability, and requirements. Distributing complementary content in the most appropriate medium requires research and planning, and often results in more effective documentation.

Florsheim, Stewart J. STC Proceedings (2000). Presentations>Information Design>Single Sourcing



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