A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.


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Keeping Users Stuck to Your Site

Discusses the effect of drop-off and how usability initiatives reduced drop-off at Staples.com by 73%. This discussion begins with a definition of drop-off and moves into an explanation of the value of drop-off data. Then we delve into the correlation between drop-off and return on investment. Finally, we highlight two examples of Staples.com initiatives that were focused on reducing drop-off by using a systematic process of customer research and redesign.

Hynes, Colin. Human Factors International (2006). Presentations>Web Design>Usability


The Key for Effective Documentation: Answer the User's Real Question   (PDF)

To successfully communicate to users, documentation must do more than meet the user’s information needs, it must present the information in the same way the user processes the information. The design of sofhYare and its accompanying documentation must be reconceived so that the design is done porn the problem-solver’s pornt of view. Effectively designing documentation requires the writer to: start with the user, answer the user’s rest questions, optimize all documentation as a smgle umt, allowfor user mistakes, and consider how you present the information.

Albers, Michael J. STC Proceedings (1997). Presentations>Documentation>Help


Keyboard Accessibility: Basic Steps Towards a More Usable and Accessible Site

A presentation which shows examples of best-practices in web design for accessibility to users who interact with sites exclusively through the keyboard.

Lauke, Patrick H. Splintered (2009). Presentations>Web Design>Accessibility


Know What You Don't Know: Gathering Information for a Technical Writing Project

While gathering information for a documentation project, what challenges do we have to overcome? A presentation of data based on responses to an online survey.

Dhanagopal, Kumar. Google Docs (2012). Presentations>Documentation>Technical Writing


Knowledge By Design   (PDF)

Knowledge by design (KBD) is an instructional paradigm for the emerging digital technologies. This nascent paradigm entails an integrated, triarchic informationmedia-interactivity model of a robust, learner-centered experience. High-performance computer platforms, inexpensive mass storage, and high bandwidth data transfer from fiber optics and orbiting satellites—are converging with the global Internet to transform the nature of the 'infosphere.' At the same time, powerful off-the-shelf multimedia tools are widely available and affordable to courseware developers and communication designers. Approaching knowledge as a design discipline may facilitate the thoughtful development of a postmodern pedagogy that can more closely realize both the technological and human potential of the next millenium.

Lasnik, Vincent E. STC Proceedings (1999). Presentations>Education>Online>Multimedia


Learnability in Information Design   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Design of information used for technical communication of complex products should consider how learnable that information is, and strive to deliver materials that are inherently learnable.The speed of information interchange and the demands of the workplace and school curricula require increasingly minimalist approaches to the material that is made available. People are frustrated by long learning times, and new users of software tools demand rapid absorption of tool capabilities. In addition, many readers of technical information are people for whom English is not their native language.Methods and practices that worked in the period when people were willing to commit to hours of study to understand a topic, or days of practice to master a tool, no longer work in a world based on ?internet time.? To assist our understanding of these trends in learning, this paper addresses three key areas related to learnability: proposing a definition of learnability, showing where learnability and usability intersect, and providing a basis for learnability based on some attributes of human beings.

Haramundanis, Kathy. ACM SIGDOC (2001). Presentations>User Centered Design>Usability>Cognitive Psychology


Learning from Henri Poincaré

Henri Poincaré, the French physicist and mathematician was an outstanding scientist. In his book, La Science et la Méthode (Science and Method – Dover publication translated by Francis Maitland), he states that “to understand” means different things to different people. The scientists in your audience expect to be able to “understand” what is presented, so it is worth thinking about what people require to reach understanding. Poincaré identifies two classes of people: the validating and connecting type, and the associative and transformative type (my choice of words).

When The Scientist Presents (2009). Articles>Presentations>Scientific Communication


Learning to Listen   (PDF)

We have been given two ears and but a single mouth in order that we may hear more and talk less - Zeno of Citium, ancient philosopher. Listening is our most used communication skill, yet it is the skill that is taught the least. This paper discusses why people don’t listen and how we view those who don’t listen. The paper also covers how to actively listen and the benefits of effective listening.

Scroggs, Debbie L. STC Proceedings (1995). Presentations>Collaboration>Communication


Learning to Love PowerPoint

I began to see PowerPoint as a metaprogram, one that organizes and presents stuff created in other applications. Initially, I made presentations about presentations; they were almost completely without content. The content, I learned, was in the medium itself. I discovered that I could attach my photographs, short videos, scanned images, and music. What's more, the application can be made to run by itself -no one even needs to be at the podium. How fantastic!

Byrne, David. Wired (2003). Articles>Presentations>Rhetoric>Microsoft PowerPoint


Leaving your Comfort Zone

Quite often I hear people make the comment 'I just can't get up in front of a group to speak; it bothers me too much!' Of course, the problem is more intense for some than for others, but remember that our attitudes, mannerisms, body language, and the voice that we use in private all go with us into public settings. Unless we speak up, persuade and convince, unless we have the power of speech, and unless we have a say in what goes on, we are not in control of our lives. That's an awesome thought, isn't it? Yet, the fear of public speaking is still the number one phobia in America today!

Laurent, J. Suzanna. STC Central Iowa (2001). Articles>Presentations


Lecture Capture: No Longer Optional?

Lecture capture has been gaining momentum in recent years, but that momentum is being outpaced by student demand. According to new research released this week by the University of Wisconsin-Madison involving about 7,500 undergraduate and graduate students, an overwhelming 82 percent of students said they would prefer courses that offer online lectures over traditional classes that do not include an online lecture component. The researchers also pointed out the implications for these findings extend well beyond the classroom.

Nagel, David. Campus Technology (2008). Articles>Education>Presentations>Video


Lies, Damned Lies, and Web Statistics   (PDF)

Interpreting web statistics has been described as “trying to nail Jell-o to the wall.” Web log files trackfile accesses on the server. They do not track users; they do not track interest levels, they do not track success or failure communicating information. Caches “hide” site accesses from the server log and “hits” provide a poor mea sure of interest in particular content. Some people argue that there is really no meaning to server logs other than a measure of server load. However, even with all their flaws, some find web statistics useful in identifying how best to allocate resources in web site development.

Mazur, Beth. STC Proceedings (1997). Presentations>Web Design>Statistics>Log Analysis


Links, Lives, Logs: Presentation in the Dutch Blogosphere

Few native English weblogs link to non-English weblogs in their blogroll and those English language weblogs that do link to non-English weblogs are usually written by non-native English speakers. The Internet may be transnational but many communities remain bound by barriers of language.

Schaap, Frank. Into the Blogosphere (2004). Articles>Presentations>Community Building>Blogging


Living and Working in China: Understanding Communication Requirements   (PDF)

Technical communicators living and working in China need to be familiar with more than the principles of their craft. They should also understand the requirements of proper forms of address, what makes correspondence “official,” Chinese learning and communicating styles, and other cultural influences on communication, such as the importance of slogans, the rule of silence and the habit of non-specificity. Such understandings lead to cultural sensitivity and increased ability to respond to the challenges of working in the Chinese environment. names is a sign of friendliness. The best practice in China, however, is to address people in the generally accepted Chinese way.

Coggin, William O., Betty F. Coggin and Xiaoli Li. STC Proceedings (2001). Presentations>TC>Regional>China


Living Through Layoffs: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Meets The Corporate World   (PDF)

Corporate 'downsizing' is effecting a large worker population: and not just those workers being laid off. The pervasiveness and breadth of layoffs at this time is changing workers’ trust in the future and ability to plan for tomorrow. The loyalty to firm is changing also. As one woman said 'the company used to be my family. This was my community, my network, like my parents’ hometown was to them. Its been bombed.' Trust in the future as it was known is shattered. Belief in the 'do a good job and you’ll be rewarded' is low. The effect of the economy on the workplace is grieving and distrust, and shattered selves.

Patton, Jill. STC Proceedings (1994). Presentations>TC>Workplace


Local is Global: Effective Multilingual Web Strategies

Web on-the-go is now an everyday reality. It touches all of our lives from the moment we wake, to our commute, from work to an evening out on the town. This reality presents both an opportunity and an incredible challenge as Web content managers attempt to optimize customer engagement. Because visitors do not see themselves as part of a global audience but as individuals, we will examine the WCM software requirements that enable organizations to maintain central control, while providing their audiences with locally relevant and translated content. From a Global Brand Management perspective, we will examine how organizations can manage, and build and sustain a global brand identity by reusing brand assets across all channels (multiple, multilingual websites, email and mobile websites). We will also take a fresh look at automated personalization and profiling, and how Web content can be targeted for specific language requirements as well as the local interests of local audiences.

Hurst, Sophie. VideoLectures (2011). Presentations>Web Design>Content Management>Localization


Location, Path and Attribute Breadcrumbs

Research on breadcrumbs as presented at the 3rd Annual Information Architecture Summit. Three types of breadcrumbs used on the Web are defined, examples given, and a set of research questions is presented.

Instone, Keith. Instone.org (2004). Presentations>Web Design>Information Design


Looking Beyond the Technology: Supporting the University Community’s Use of Information Technology   (PDF)

The distributed nature of information technology services poses considerable challenges to the technical writer handling policy interpretation, dissemination, and education. Our unit endeavors to stay abreast of new technology and anticipate new issues. No sooner did I arrive on my job than MP3 music sites became the main topic among students. By their downloading of music from the Internet, some students were potentially violating copyrights.

Young, Kathleen A. STC Proceedings (2000). Presentations>Technology


Looking to Cinema for Direction: Incorporating Motion into On-screen Presentations of Technical Information   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

To help technical communicators become better informed producers of interactive new media productions, this article examines how motion can be used properly to create effective interactive information systems for the computer screen. This article provides a brief analysis of how cinema works and then demonstrates how a number of cinema techniques influence new media production. The article then concludes by offering suggestions for how to effectively apply a few basic cinema techniques directly to technical communication practice.

Gillette, David. Technical Communication Online (2005). Articles>Presentations>Multimedia


Low-Cost, Flat-File XML for the Masses

When you hear about XML publishing, you mostly hear about databases, workflow tools, and content management systems. These are typically costly systems aimed towards the information management needs of larger enterprises, where the sheer volume of information pumped through these systems provides a fairly rapid return on investment. This fosters the perception that you need one of these complex, expensive, enterprise solutions to use take advantage of the modularity and flexibility of authoring in XML. That is simply not true. You can realize the benefits of publishing from modularized XML, without the expense of an enterprise publishing system, by implementing the authoring environment on top of nothing more than your operating system's file system. Although this environment is not adequate for enterprise publishing needs, it is more than adequate for the needs small writing teams, businesses with a limited number of related products, proof-of-concept demonstrations, and even home users. The AIC documentation group at Cisco Systems has implemented such an authoring environment. We have been able to reuse and re-purpose modular, XML-based information without implementing a database back end. By examining how the AIC team implemented XML in a flat-file environment, you will see: * the decisions you need to make before implementing a flat-file XML system * the trade-offs, drawbacks, and pitfalls of implementing a flat-file environment (as compared to a database publishing environment) * the benefits of XML that are still available, even without the database * a migration path to a more traditional publishing environment

Willebeek-LeMair, Jason. IDEAlliance (2001). Presentations>Publishing>XML>Writing


Low-End Online Documentation Viewing Systems: Why and How   (PDF)

Online documentation is now widely accepted for its convenience and cost savings. However, some small, non-Windows shops find very few offerings in the market place for online documentation software.

Sonnenberg, Beth Apple. STC Proceedings (1995). Presentations>Documentation>Help>Online


Machine Translation: An Objective Look and Primer   (PDF)

Machine Translation is a wonderful technology partner for the technical communicator, saving, under the right circumstances, time and money. As with any partnership, roles, responsibilities, and accountability must be clearly defined. In this human-machine partnership, the technical communicator shoulders most of the responsibility. There are many translation systems available, and the one that is best for you can be identified by considering, among other things, the purpose of the translation, its audience, the document’s size, and the desired quality. Despite the sophistication of the systems currently on the market, a human translator is a requirement for most post-translation editing!

Luttrell, Carol. STC Proceedings (2001). Presentations>Language>Localization>Machine Translation


Macromedia Dreamweaver MX Fundamentals

Macromedia Dreamweaver MX Fundamentals is the first in a series of tutorials from Virtual Training Company for Dreamweaver MX. The author of this series, Mark Fletcher, is a member of Team Macromedia for Dreamweaver. Tap into his extensive knowledge as he takes you step-by-step through the creation of a web site. He will show you how to add text and graphics, work with frames and framesets, apply cascading style sheets, and create re-usable content from library items. You will also learn how to insert and edit Flash objects, construct an HTML form, manage your page layout using both HTML tables and the Layout View, structure and maintain your web site using Dreamweaver MX's powerful site management tools, and create a dynamic web page using Macromedia's ColdFusion technology. To start learning, simply click one of the topics below.

Fletcher, Mark. Virtual Training Company (2003). Presentations>Tutorials>Streaming>Dreamweaver


Maintaining the Marketing Drumbeat in Print and E-Mail Formats   (PDF)

Success in the marketplace depends on delivering the right messages to the target market. A regular, consistent “drumbeat” can be an extremely effective way to deliver messages. At the IBM® Network Computing Software Lab, I have developed a traditional newsletter and an email bulletin for delivering our marketing messages regularly and consistently. Though they share the same objective, these two instruments are very different in content and format – reflecting the fact that they are designed to maximize the opportunities and overcome the limitations of their respective media.

Kunz, Lawrence D. STC Proceedings (2000). Presentations>Publishing>Online


Making Logical Technical Arguments

This PowerPoint file of 25 slides presents a thorough overview of the essentials of technical argument.

conneXions (2008). Articles>Presentations>Rhetoric>Technical Writing



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