A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.


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Applying "Mass Customisation" Manufacturing Principles to Solve Technical Communication Problems

This article discusses how organisations can resolve the conflict between the need to produce bespoke, customer-specific, technical communication and the need to re-use as much information as possible. It begins with a description of the conflict and resulting trade-off and then compares it to the field of manufacturing, which has found ways to deal with a similar issue. Universal information modules are introduced as the solution - these allow the manufacturing principle of mass customization to be applied to technical communication. The article ends by outlining the requirements needed for supporting tools in order to adopt this solution.

Rombauts, Yves. Cherryleaf (2005). Articles>Content Management


Applying Web 2.0 Technologies to Technical Documentation

This article is based on my presentation at the Institute of Scientific and Technical Communicators' annual conference in October, 2006. Every now and then, there is a change in the value of what technical authors deliver. These are moments when organisations pay attention to technical documentation. This is because they recognise that these changes mean they can create something that will be of real value to the business and to their customers. In recent years, there have been three "waves of interestingness". The first wave was the introduction of Windows Help (WinHelp). The second major wave was the introduction of the Internet and intranets. This was a time when organisations looked at how they could transfer large amounts of information from paper to online. They were faced with issues such as how users could access and understand all this information easily - issues that technical communicators deal with on a day-to-day basis. I believe we're just about to approach the new wave, which we have called "Tech Writing 2.0".

Pratt, Ellis. Cherryleaf (2006). Articles>Web Design>Documentation>Technical Writing


Benefits of Using a Professional to Write User Documentation

Studies have shown organisations value the following benefits: overall organisation, the sales team, and documentation meets the customer's requirements.

Cherryleaf (2003). Articles>Writing>Professionalism>Documentation


Building Intelligence into Business Documents

Often business documents, such as sales proposals and annual reports, are a joint effort between various people and departments. It involves collaborative writing and incorporating existing content. For printable documents, this collaboration can make it really difficult to maintain a consistent level of quality, writing style and “look and feel.”

Pratt, Ellis. Cherryleaf (2010). Articles>Business Communication>Content Management


Can the Experience of Paper Be Replicated on a Screen?

A number of organisations are experimenting with how the experience of reading a paper book or a magazine can be replicated when they are displayed on a screen. Underlying all of these, is an assumption that people can and want to read content online (or on screen) in the same way as they read paper books and magazines.

Pratt, Ellis. Cherryleaf (2010). Articles>Web Design>User Experience>Publishing


Can You Design Your Way to a “No User Documentation” Approach?

For simple, commonly known actions in a closed environment, you probably can design your way to a “no user documentation” approach. Good design can also lead to less documentation. However, customers may expect to do more than that with a product and, in those situations, documentation can play a key role in meeting those expectations.

Pratt, Ellis. Cherryleaf (2009). Articles>Documentation>Usability>Minimalism


Cherryleaf News and Information

Contains news and information on software and documentation issues, reports on survey into the current trends in technical communication, the future of Help / trends in user assistance, which Help authoring tool to buy, an introduction to single-sourcing, career advice, etc.

Cherryleaf. Resources>Documentation>Regional>United Kingdom


Cherryleaf Survey: Uptake of New Help Trends

During March and April 2003, Cherryleaf carried out an online survey into the current trends in technical communication. One of the questions we asked was: Do the online user assistance documents produced by your organization contain the following advanced capabilities?

Cherryleaf (2003). Articles>Documentation>Help>Online


Cherryleaf Survey: Use of Single-Sourcing Solutions

During March and April 2003, Cherryleaf carried out an online survey into the current trends in technical communication. One of the questions we asked was: Do the people directly involved with user assistance development at your organization use a single sourcing authoring solution? Our findings are summarised in the article

Cherryleaf (2003). Articles>Content Management>Single Sourcing>Reports


Cherryleaf Technical Authors' Blog

A blog about the experiences of technical authors.

Cherryleaf. Resources>Writing>Technical Writing>Blogs


Confessions of a Technical Author: What Can Technical Communicators Learn from David Ogilvy?

David Ogilvy was an advertising genius who distilled his successful concepts and techniques into a bestselling book I've just finished reading, called "Confessions of an Advertising Man". I wanted to read his book, because I often find it useful to look at other professions and ask whether their ideas could be applied to the world of technical authoring.

Pratt, Ellis. Cherryleaf (2008). Articles>TC>Writing>Technical Writing


Connecting the Online and Offline Customer Experience

A well-constructed online and offline approach will ensure that customers are receiving the same levels of service, irrespective of how they ‘touch’ the organisation, and they will receive the same brand and proposition messages and as a result, customers will be more likely to buy from them and existing customers will be less likely to switch to competitors.

Cherryleaf (2010). Articles>User Experience>E Commerce>Usability


Context-Sensitive Help: What Programmers and Technical Authors Need to Know

Context-sensitive Help is assistance that is appropriate to where the user is in the software application, and what they are trying to do. Carol Johnston's article describes what programmers and technical authors need to know about Context-sensitive Help.

Johnston, Carol. Cherryleaf (2003). Articles>User Interface>Help>Documentation


The Death of the Technical Author?

Technical Authors do not have high prominence in the workplace, and they don't have the best of images (as can be seen by the movie 'The Technical Writer'). Today, there are a number of Technical Authors struggling to find new employment in the current IT sector, and one can find messages on Internet newsgroups questioning the future employment prospects for Technical Authors in North America and Europe. Some wonder whether the role of the Technical Author will disappear, like other careers have in the past. In this article we look at the problems faced by Technical Authors in defining their role, and make some recommendations for the future.

Birn, William. Cherryleaf (2003). Articles>Writing>Professionalism>Technical Writing


Did Technical Documentation Play a Role in the White House's Decision to Move to Drupal?

The reasons for the White House's decision to run its Web site, whitehouse.gov, on the open source content management system Drupal are being discussed on various Web sites. Alongside Drupal's functionality, flexibility and openness, some are suggesting that Drupal's documentation was also a key factor for deciding to use this system.

Pratt, Ellis. Cherryleaf (2009). Articles>Documentation>Content Management>Government


Do Technical Authors Do Anything Important?

Often, the more important the job, the more important it is for people to have clear information to hand, explaining what to do and how to do it.

Pratt, Ellis. Cherryleaf (2012). Articles>Writing>Technical Writing


A Document Management Case Study: QLD Dept of Housing   (PDF)

How a new spin on document management software helped revolutionise customer service at the Queensland Department of Housing.

Hambly, Natalie. Cherryleaf (2003). Articles>Documentation>Software>Government


Documentation as Flash Cards

Here is a nice use of flash cards as a way of providing user documentation. Traditionally, these type of documents have looked great but taken a lot of time and effort to produce. However, with more and more technical documentation content stored as re-usable chunks of information in XML-based Content Management Systems, it’s a lot easier to do.

Pratt, Ellis. Cherryleaf (2009). Articles>Documentation>User Experience


Fitting Technical Documentation Into a Social Web Strategy

Social Media experts, such as David Armano, of Dachis Corp, are proposing new business measures for assessing the effectiveness of social media marketing. Armano is proposing five key measurement factors. So can technical documentation be “re-framed” to meet these criteria? If so, will its value to the business become clearer?

Pratt, Ellis. Cherryleaf (2010). Articles>Documentation>Technical Writing>Social Networking


Review: Five Non-Technical Writing Books Technical Writers Should Read

Looking for a present for the Technical Author in your life? Here are five books, tangentially related to technical communication, that Technical Authors/Writers should read.

Pratt, Ellis. Cherryleaf (2010). Articles>Reviews>Technical Writing


A Guide for Software Project Managers - Planning User Documentation   (PDF)

A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide)–2000 Edition is the main sourcebook in the project management field. Whilst it covers Project Communications Management, it doesn't extend to user documentation. This article seeks to provide guidance for project managers as to how the user documentation process fits in with the overall project planning. It examines: the traditional way documentation is approached and how it impinges on project planning the effects of making changes to this traditional approach.

Johnston, Carol. Cherryleaf (2003). Articles>Documentation>Project Management>Body of Knowledge


The Guilty Pleasure of Writing Policy and Procedure Documents

We have a number of projects running at the moment that involve us improving organisations’ policy and procedures documents. It may not seem likely, but these projects are enormous fun.

Pratt, Ellis. Cherryleaf (2012). Articles>Documentation>Policies and Procedures>Business Communication


How Important is Video to Technical Authors?

I’m sure neither of us would argue that video will replace text. Instead, people will expect information to be delivered through a variety of media. The questions for Technical Authors are: can they be sure they will be the people creating this type of information?

Pratt, Ellis. Cherryleaf (2011). Articles>Multimedia>Technical Writing>Video


How Many Technical Authors Are There in the UK?

The profession of Technical Author in the UK is yet to be recognised as a distinct profession under the UK Standard Industrial Classification of Economic Activities, so it’s very hard to determine how many people work as Technical Authors.

Pratt, Ellis. Cherryleaf (2010). Careers>Writing>Technical Writing>United Kingdom


I'm a Technical Writer: Dispelling the Myths

Technical Writers (aka Technical Authors, Content Wranglers and Documentation Managers) have an unfair image. This project aims to challenge this image, by showing technical writers in a different light. The photos below are of technical communications professionals, doing a variety of activities.

Cherryleaf (2008). Careers>Writing>Technical Writing



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