A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.


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Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the volume and quality of traffic to a web site from search engines via "natural" ("organic" or "algorithmic") search results. Typically, the earlier a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine. SEO may target different kinds of search, including image search, local search, and industry-specific vertical search engines.



Effective Search Results

Search result pages must make information easy to find and present results in a format that is easy to use.

Bohmann, Kristoffer. Bohmann Usability (2000). Design>Web Design>Usability>Search


The Effects of Contrast and Density on Visual Web Search

This study evaluated the effects of white space on visual search time. Participants were required to search for a target word on a web page with different levels of white space, measured by level of text density. Screens were formatted with one of four types of graphical manipulation, including: no graphics, contrast, borders and contrast with borders under two levels of overall density and three levels of local density. Results show that search times were longer with increased overall density but significant differences were not found between levels of local density. Only the use of contrast was found to be significant, resulting in an increase in search time.

Weller, Donnelle. Usability News (2004). Design>Web Design>Visual Rhetoric>Search


Eight Quick Ways to Fix Your Search Engine

Almost every site's search engine could use improvement. Most organizations' Web teams couldn't really affect the quality of their search results--they were stuck tweaking search technologies that had already been purchased and installed. Often, the most dramatic change they could make was in the design of the search and results interfaces.

Veen, Jeffrey. Adaptive Path (2004). Design>Web Design>Search


Eight Ways to Use Alexa.com's Toolbar as Your Secret Traffic Weapon

By now, most web marketers know that the Alexa.com ranking of their site is important. It gives an independent measure of your monthly unique visitors and reach on the web to potential advertisers.

Abayomi-Paul, Tinu. Free Traffic Directory. Design>Web Design>Search>Search Engine Optimization


El Título de la Página

El título de la página es un metadato acerca del contenido de la página, que se define a través de la etiqueta HTML <title>. Definir el título en todas las páginas que conforman el sitio web es una norma básica que aumenta considerablemente la 'findability' de la información contenida en cada página. Además, no definirlo supone mostrar una imagen poco profesional del sitio web y su diseño. Al contrario de lo que pudiera parecer, el título de la página no es un elemento de orientación del usuario en su navegación, ya que la mayoría de los usuarios ni tan siquiera advertirán su existencia.

Hassan Montero, Yusef. Nosolousabilidad.com (2003). (Spanish) Design>Web Design>Search>Search Engine Optimization


Electronic Publication and the Narrowing of Science and Scholarship   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Online journals promise to serve more information to more dispersed audiences and are more efficiently searched and recalled. But because they are used differently than print—scientists and scholars tend to search electronically and follow hyperlinks rather than browse or peruse—electronically available journals may portend an ironic change for science. Using a database of 34 million articles, their citations (1945 to 2005), and online availability (1998 to 2005), I show that as more journal issues came online, the articles referenced tended to be more recent, fewer journals and articles were cited, and more of those citations were to fewer journals and articles. The forced browsing of print archives may have stretched scientists and scholars to anchor findings deeply into past and present scholarship. Searching online is more efficient and following hyperlinks quickly puts researchers in touch with prevailing opinion, but this may accelerate consensus and narrow the range of findings and ideas built upon.

Evans, James A. Science (2008). Articles>Research>Publishing>Online


Electronic Research and the Rhetoric of Information

This class will explore the social and cultural role of information. We will pay particular attention to the ways in which the self and society shape and are shaped by our information networks, and will look at the structure of these systems. We will examine such topics as social and collaborative networking, information retrieval, database structures, tagging, and copyright issues. Throughout the course, students will be encouraged to understand the function and limits of rhetorical choices within information production and retrieval.

Arola, Kristin L. Washington State University (2009). Academic>Courses>Research>Online


Electronic Scholarly Publishing and Open Access   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

A review of recent developments in electronic publishing, with a focus on Open Access (OA) is provided. It describes the two main types of OA, i.e. the `gold' OA journal route and the `green' repository route, highlighting the advantages and disadvantages of the two, and the reactions of the publishing industry to these developments. Quality, cost and copyright issues are explored, as well as some of the business models of OA. It is noted that whilst so far there is no evidence that a shift to OA will lead to libraries cancelling subscriptions to toll-access journals, this may happen in the future, and that despite the apparently compelling reasons for authors to move to OA, so far few have shown themselves willing to do so. Conclusions about the future of scholarly publications are drawn.

Oppenheim, Charles. Journal of Information Science (2008). Articles>Publishing>Research>Open Source


Eleven Tips for Advanced Search Usability

“Advanced search” means different things to different people. Some ecommerce vendors describe their filtered navigation or guided selling capabilities as advanced search, as does the Internet Retailer 500 Guide. This post considers “advanced search” to be a tool separate from the regular search function, that allows searchers to specify more detailed criteria that is not handled by keyword search or filtered navigation.

Get Elastic (2010). Articles>Web Design>Search


The Emergence and Evolution of a Research Project   (PDF)

Research never goes exactly according to plan; nor should we expect it to because research is a rhetorically situated activity. This paper illustrates this truism by providing a brief summary of the author’s experiences in designing, proposing, re-designing, and carrying out an investigation into electronic editing using both quantitative survey and qualitative methods.

Dayton, David. STC Proceedings (1999). Articles>Research>Rhetoric


Emergent Genres in Young Disciplines: The Case of Ethnological Science   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Although the rhetoric of relatively stable scientific disciplines has been studied extensively, less attention has been paid to discourse formation in young disciplines. The author extends recent theories of genre and disciplinary discourse in a close rhetorical analysis of early papers in ethnological science. Practitioners apply extant rhetorical resources to new disciplinary problems as they learn to identify themselves as participants in a collective project. The young discipline 'learns' its discourse from its practitioners.

Henze, Brent R. Technical Communication Quarterly (2004). Articles>Research>Scientific Communication>Ethnicity


Enhance Usability by Highlighting Search Terms

Google's cache offers users a copy of your website with their search terms highlighted. You can do the same thing and make it easier for users to find what they’re looking for — whether they're coming from an external search engine or your own site search — by making their search terms easy to spot.

Suda, Brian and Matt Riggott. List Apart, A (2004). Design>Web Design>Usability>Search


Enhancing User Research with Emerging Technology

As technology evolves and new gadgets and electronics emerge in the marketplace, our options for the use of technology in conducting our user research continue to expand. The processes through which we have long gathered data—such as surveys and interviews—are no longer the only ways in which we can understand people and how they respond to our clients’ products and services. As professional user researchers, we have the opportunity to devise new and innovative ways of more accurately understanding user experience through the use of technology.

McClain, Brian and Demetrius Madrigal. UXmatters (2010). Articles>User Centered Design>Research>Methods


An Ergonomic Format for Short Reporting in Scientific Journals Using Nested Tables and the Deming's Cycle   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

The typical structure of a scientific report involves highly standardized sections. The key concept of a scientific report is the reproducibility of results. Because not only clarity but also conciseness is a tool for the advancement of science, a new format using nested tables is proposed with the aim of improving the design of short reports in scientific journals, namely short communications, short technical reports, case reports, etc. This format is based on the ergonomic philosophy of visual encyclopaedias (one topic, one page) and on the quality system of the Deming's cycle (plan--do--check--act) for continuous improvement. This new editing tool has several advantages over existing forms, because it provides quick and ergonomic, reader-friendly research reports that, at the same time, would render a saving in terms of available space and publishing costs of the printed version of scientific journals.

Hortol, Policarp. Journal of Information Science (2008). Articles>Scientific Communication>Research>Technical Writing


Ethical and Legal Aspects of Human Subjects Research on the Internet   (PDF)

Many IRBs recognize their unfamiliarity with the nature of Internet research and their lack of technical expertise needed to review related research protocols. To both protect human subjects and promote innovative and scientifically sound research, it is important to consider the ethical, legal, and technical issues associated with this burgeoning area of research.

AAAS (1999). Articles>Research>Ethics>Online


Ethnographic Research in Business and Technical Writing   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Two widely disseminated approaches impose reductive boundaries on ethnographic research by privileging one context of meaning over other essential contexts. The first, emphasizing statistical validity, privileges the research community by recommending that the ethnographer's data analysis via coding agree with that of other raters from the research community. The second asserts that the ethnographer who comes closest to validity comes closest to presenting only the subject's point of view. Ethnography, however, comprises four essential, overlapping contexts: the phenomenal context (that which is observed/recorded), the site's cultural context (the subjects' outlook), the research community context, and the researcher's interior context, shaped by experience and education. Each of the four vantages has dominating tendencies, but if one does dominate to the exclusion of others, the reductive result is data-centered, thin description; subjects-centered groupthink; research community-centered groupthink; or researcher-centered solipsism. Although all contexts of meaning are important, none should fully eclipse the others.

Cross, Geoffrey A. Journal of Business and Technical Communication (1994). Articles>Business Communication>Research>Ethnographies


Evaluating E-Contents Beyond Impact Factor - A Pilot Study Selected Open Access Journals In Library And Information Science   (peer-reviewed)

Scholarly communication through Open Access (OA) journals has become a global phenomenon. This article reports on a study that measures the value of OA journals based on citation counts (ISI's Journal Impact Factor). It compares three highly ranked commercial electronic journals to five OA electronic journals. The non-OA journals are MIS Quarterly, Journal of American Medication Informatics Association, and Annual Review of Information Science and Technology; the five OA journals are Ariadne, D-Lib Magazine, First Monday, Information Research, and Information Technology and Disabilities. The criteria are established by ten major databases: Thompson's ISI, American Psychological Association's PsycInfo, Latin American and Canadian Health Science's LILCS, National Medical Library's MEDLINE, Scientific Electronic Library's SciELO, The IOWA Guide, CSA's LISA, EBSCO's LISTA, H.W. Wilson's Library Literature and Information Science, and R.R. Bowker's Ulrich International Periodical Directory. These basic criteria are categorized under 11 broad issues: availability, authority and review policy, scope and coverage, exhaustiveness of articles, page format, availability of hyperlinks, currency, updating policy, search facility, and other miscellaneous issues. Ten years' growth of Library and Information Science (LIS) OA journals has been measured by counting articles manually. During the last ten years the highest number of articles was published by First Monday, followed by D-Lib Magazine and Ariadne; the average number of articles per issue reported in Ariadne ranks first.

Mukherjee, Bhaskar. Journal of Electronic Publishing (2007). Articles>Publishing>Research>Assessment


Evaluating Online Sources: A Tutorial by Roger Munger

This tutorial presents a brief overview of the reasons to evaluate information you find on the Internet, offers guidelines to assist you in the process, and helps you assess the information found on sample Web pages. Although the principles presented here apply to all kinds of information found on the Internet, the primary focus is on sites from organizations and companies-sites that you will likely visit while conducting research-rather than on personal Web sites.

Munger, Roger H. Bedford-St. Martin's (2007). Articles>Research>Online>Assessment


Evaluating Sources of Information

We live in an information age. The quantity of information available is so staggeringly huge that we cannot know everything about a subject. For example, it's estimated that anyone attempting to research what's known about depression would have to read over 100,000 studies on the subject. And there's the problem of trying to decide which studies have produced reliable results.

Purdue University. Academic>Research>Assessment


The Evolution of Visual Information Retrieval   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This paper seeks to provide a brief overview of those developments which have taken the theory and practice of image and video retrieval into the digital age. Drawing on a voluminous literature, the context in which visual information retrieval takes place is followed by a consideration of the conceptual and practical challenges posed by the representation and recovery of visual material on the basis of its semantic content. An historical account of research endeavours in content-based retrieval, directed towards the automation of these operations in digital image scenarios, provides the main thrust of the paper. Finally, a look forwards locates visual information retrieval research within the wider context of content-based multimedia retrieval.

Enser, Peter. Journal of Information Science (2008). Articles>Content Management>Visual Rhetoric>Search


Examining the Usability of Web Site Search   (PDF)

One of the most pressing usability issues in the design of web sites is that of how to improve navigation and search. We are conducting a series of usability studies to address this problem, focusing on web sites that con- sist of large collections of loosely organized information. This article describes our method and presents prelim- inary results which suggest that use of faceted meta- data can be useful both for the initial stages of highly constrained search and for the intermediate stages of less constrained browsing tasks. We also find that users state an interest in using different search interface types to support different search strategies.

English, Jennifer, Marti Hearst, Rashmi Sinha, Kirsten Swearington and Ping Yee. University of California Berkeley (2002). Articles>Web Design>Usability>Search


Expanded Information Retrieval Using Full-Text Searching   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

The value of full text for expanding information retrieval was examined. Two full-text databases were used: Textpresso for neuroscience and ScienceDirect. Queries representing different categories were used to search different text fields (titles, abstracts, full text and, where possible, keywords). Searching the full-text field relative to the commonly used abstracts field increases retrievals by one or more orders of magnitude, depending on the categories selected. For phenomena-type categories (e.g. blood flow, thermodynamic equilibrium, etc.), retrievals are enhanced by about an order of magnitude. For infrastructure-type categories (e.g. equipment types, sponsors, suppliers, databases, etc.), retrievals are enhanced by well over an order of magnitude, and sometimes multiple orders of magnitude. Use of combination terms along with proximity specification capability is a very powerful feature for retrieving relevant records from full-text searching, and can be useful for applications like literature-related discovery.

Kostoff, Ronald N. Journal of Information Science (2010). Articles>Information Design>Databases>Search


Explicitly Teaching Five Technical Genres to English First-Language Adults in a Multi-Major Technical Writing Course   (peer-reviewed)

In this paper, I report the effects of explicitly teaching five technical genres to English first-language students enrolled in a multi-major technical writing course. Previous experimental research has demonstrated the efficacy of explicitly teaching academic writing to English first language adults, but no comparable study on technical writing exists. I used a mixed-method approach to examine these effects, including a control-group quasi-experimental design and a qualitative analysis to more fully describe the 534 texts produced by 316 student writers. Results indicated the genre participants constructed texts demonstrating a significantly greater awareness to audience, purpose, structure, design, style, and editing than participants taught through more traditional approaches. Within the technical genres, participants demonstrated greater awareness to audience, purpose, and editing in the job materials text type than with correspondence or procedures text types.

Boettger, Ryan K. Journal of Writing Research (2014). Journals>Research>Technical Writing>Research


Extracting Pearls from Other People's Brains: The Art of Interviewing

Perhaps one of the bigger challenges faced by white paper writers is coming up with good content. The default course of action is to do a Google search. While this approach can yield valuable information, the best pearls reside inside someone else's head.

Stelzner, Michael A. WhitePaperSource (2006). Articles>Interviewing>Research>White Papers


Extreme User Research

What is the biggest problem I face almost every time a client hires me to do something about a web project going awry? They don't know a thing about their users. They don't have a clue, whatsoever. Unbelievable but true!

Lafreniere, Daniel. Boxes and Arrows (2008). Articles>User Centered Design>Research>Usability



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