Manufacturers are currently grappling with determining whether they should put safety information on the Web and if they do how it should be presented. Technical communicators, Web content developers, and Web designers will ultimately be responsible for the presentation of Web-based safety information. This article discusses special considerations that should be given the formatting (HTML, PDF, etc.), design, (font, size, and color), and location of safety information on the Web. Additionally, areas for future research on the issue of Web-based safety information are identified.
Designing multi-platform online help can be made more efficient by placing special effort in the design of the development plan. If the development plan is broken up into four key elements the resulting multi-platform design will yield a great amount of latitude for both maintenance and future enhancements. During the demonstration we will discuss our use of these elements to design both online and hardcopy documentation to support both a mainframe and a windows interface.
The policies and procedures (P&P) developer must address more than format and style issues in designing policies and procedures information. There are at least five levels of design for policies and procedures information. Level 1 concerns the architecture in which the information resides. Level 2 concerns the type of relationship that exists among documents within the architecture. Level 3 concerns the approach used in designing and developing the information content within a policies and procedures document. Level 4 concerns the writing methods to use. Level 5 concerns the various writing techniques for presenting information in units individually and collectively within a policies and procedures document.
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.
Personalization, which allows a web user to choose the content and layout of their own portal web page, is one of the most popular ways of increasing traffic at web sites, and helps to ensure return customers. But to be successful, it must be simple and it must be intuitive. This paper presents common personalization features used by top portals and reviews the design of the interfaces of three top portals: My Excite, My Yahoo and MSN. This paper provides examples of good and bad design techniques used in the portal sites, and gives tips on how to design usable personalization features.
Knowing more about how web site characteristics work to reach non-e-commerce goals can guide web designers working towards some of those goals. Environmental advocacy sites are apt to provide rich examples of how web sites try to educate, change behaviors and values, induce action, and promote participatory decisionmaking. Studying them, then, may help us understand how the characteristics of their web sites work. This paper explores how a particular advocacy group web site, www.seedcoalition.org, educates and induces action in its visitors. The site seems likely to effectively educate and induce action, but could do more to induce deliberation and encourage interpersonal communication and discussion about issues, which might better support the group’s long term goals.
Working in a regulated environment (for example, an ISO-certified company or a company regulated by the FDA) necessarily changes the way documentation is developed and managed. The documentation development process must exist and must meet all of the requirements set by the governing body, yet not be so mired in detail that it overwhelms the writers and managers.
Style guides present a series of rules for standardizing writing. Style guide developers run the risk of concentrating too much on these rules, and too little on other factors that may ultimately affect the quality of the documents that are governed by the style guide. I would like to consider some of these other factors in this paper. I’ve drawn this discussion from Battelle’s efforts developing style guides in various industries. Another reason to involve your clients in the development process is to help ensure that the style guide includes the information they will need. For example, we included tips on using Microsoft Word in a style guide that would be used by writers working in Word. Don’t be afraid to be creative when deciding what to include in your style guide; if it gives writers a reason to look something up in the style guide,
A unified content strategy is: a repeatable method of identifying all content requirements up front; creating consistently structured content for reuse; managing that content in a definitive source; assembling content on demand to meet your needs. A unified content model is the framework that supports your strategy.
The importance of oral presentations in professional environments related to Computer Science is unquestionable. Therefore, oral and writing skills are included in the set of competences to be developed by students through the application of recent academic initiatives for Computer Science degrees in an international context. This article describes activities performed at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid aimed at the development of presentation skills in students. This initiative is based on the application of learning activities in combination with the delivery of different presentations that the students themselves evaluate. Results show a significant competence improvement and very satisfactory acceptance results from the students.
This 29-slide PowerPoint presentation addresses the challenges of developing and maintaining a professional electronic portfolio. Beginning with an introduction to the genre and its purposes, the lesson covers aspects of portfolio development from selecting to showcasing pertinent academic and professional documentation. Included are examples from sample portfolios, advice on how to avoid design mistakes, and further resources for setting goals and collecting materials throughout the portfolio process.
Can documentation be an asset? I surfed the web looking for information on documentation as a business asset. I didn’t find as much as I thought I would. Some of the attitudes on the web about documentation are kind of disturbing.
DITA maps provide a mechanism for ordering topics and creating a topic hierarchy. Because DITA maps consist of lists of references to topics, you can reorganize the content in a deliverable simply by changing the order of the topic references. You can create different maps referencing the same source topics to create two deliverables to meet different users' needs.
This paper defines a good manual to have a good balance in quality, cost (close to estimation, not over), and delivery (on time schedule). Analyzing our past problems, we have been developing documentation process to control these three factors through the following: working as a team, standardizing an estimation method, and standardizing an evaluation system.
Captivate was created as a demo tool. It has evolved into a powerful tool for creating eLearning content. The subject of the training does not have to be a software product.
Goal hierarchies are models that represent a set of problems or goals. Goal hierarchies can also represent the goals of a product, and the information that should be provided to explain the product. A single goal hierarchy can direct the design of both the product and all rhetoric about the product. Goal hierarchies can direct the design and ordering of the tasks required to build the product. They can also define the structure and order of its accompanying text, online help, hypertext, training, and customer support heuristic. Goal hierarchies were used to enhance development of a specific Department of Veterans Affairs information product and its accompanying rhetoric.
Which pages have the search engines crawled? What kind of pages are they? Has the search engine Indexing indexed all of the crawled pages? How’s the search engine ranking traffic?
Federal STI agencies will have a cooperative enterprise where capabilities are shared and challenges are faced together so that the sum of accomplishments is greater than each individual agency can achieve on its own.
Technical communicators can expect to see an expanding role of video in product documentation, training, and marketing presentations. This is largely due to three factors: (1) digital video lowers the technology and cost thresholds to bring video to the desktop, (2) video makes sense for conveying information involving movement, and (3) video is a popular consumer medium. To technical communicators, video is a new medium in which visual communication is key. Narration and text are subordinate. Technical videographers must learn and apply video design principles and good production practices to create effective video that communicates the information.
Digital does not experience signal loss or degradation...what goes in, comes out.
As editors, it is good to remember the following points to discern and work through conflict situations.