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.
Laying out your poster on a grid establishes limitations for your poster. Choosing a font establishes limitations for your poster. Being conservative in your design choices establishes limitations. Working within limits requires discipline. Setting yourself limitations does not necessarily limit creativity; it can do just the opposite.
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If you look through a poster session at a scientific conference, I’ll bet over 98% of their titles are centered at the top of their posters. Why? There is no advantage in reading. Most word processors and other publishing programs start with text left aligned by default, which implies that people deliberately center the text all the time.
Technical communicators have long harbored a secret that we are reluctant to admit to outsiders: Users don’t like reading manuals. They do it only as a last resort. Even online help systems, which we originally hoped would be easier to use, have not met with great enthusiasm among users. It’s an all-too-common dilemma – there is a lot of information that could be explained, but users struggle along as best they can without it. Part of the problem has always been that users are reluctant to leave their work to seek information -- and rightly so. They have work to do and deadlines to meet. Even if your manual or online help contains a wealth of useful information, it takes them away from their work and interrupts their train of thought. If they do try to use it, the help window typically overlays the interface and adds its own set of navigation, resizing, and searching issues.
This panel will review the existing literature on how we mentally process online documentation and describe some implications for effective online document design. We invite the audience to define with us some critical areas for further research.
Because many researchers use PowerPoint for their talks and lectures, they also tend to use it for every graphic problem, including posters. Predictably, the form of the resulting posters often look like nothing more than a series of ugly PowerPoint slides tacked together. A poster is more like a whiteboard than slides. But because many researchers give more presentations than posters, they’re not used to thinking in terms of a big space, viewed all at once, instead of a series of small spaces, viewed one at a time.
As discussed recently, many people use PowerPoint to design posters, an act that borders on criminal. PowerPoint was designed for multiple projected images with minimal text, not one large image with complex text and graphics. People use PowerPoint because it’s the only thing remotely resembling a graphics software that people are familiar with. Microsoft Office simply doesn’t have a good, high end graphics component. Publisher comes close. OpenOffice does have a graphics component, simply called Draw. If you are not willing to shell out the big bucks generally required of a professional graphics software package, Draw has several features in its favour.
As the number of effects increases, custom animations rapidly become unwieldy. An alternative technique consists in using one slide per effect, thus simplifying the process. The addition of slide transitions ensures that entrance or exit effects are maintained. The drawbacks of creating effects without effects - a large number of slides- are compensated by two key advantages: simplicity, and direct access to any part of a slide composed of many effects, not just its beginning.
What does structured authoring mean to you? Structured authoring is a publishing workflow that lets you define and enforce consistent organization of information in documents, whether printed or online. What it means to me: defining a goal and assembling architected topics to help the reader achieve that goal.
Many teams are still laboring to transform poorly organized manuals into online help. But the biggest cllallege you face going from paper to online is not interface, but structure The better your structure, the easier your users will navigate.
This workshop presents an introduction to use cases - a planning tool which can be used for capturing a future documentation system's functional requirements as well as the overall information requirements of end users. You learn what a use case is and what recommended guidelines there are for creating use cases. You also learn how use cases are applied in the documentation development process as a whole.
One of the ironic things about online help systems is that they are very often not helpful and even increase the user's frustration and stress level. A consequence of this increased frustration sometimes results in the rejection of the software. One solution is to increase the effectiveness of online help systems by designing them from an instructional design perspective. Some of the things we can provide users include: imperative, task-focused procedures; graphic feedback; access to redundant instructions; links to tutorial practice; philosophical and conceptual explanations for “why” they are completing specific tasks.
This paper explores the process of designing and implementing a database-driven system of online documentation, and putting it live on the web for customers to use. Using real-life examples, it discusses practical considerations for balancing performance, scalability, and reliability.