Jonatan Lundin to Lecture at Nordic Tech Komm: “This is why users can’t understand your content”Read More
Information Design Info Tech Trends User Experience
Many years ago, I heard my colleague (and founder of Excosoft) Jan Christian Herlitz say that reusable content is like food. Each reusable component is an ingredient in the kitchen, and with a recipe we can combine ingredients into a dish—a complete document.Read More
Wikiview is an alternative user interface to Wikipedia pages that lets users navigate information in a more structured, Skribenta-like way.Read More
As a technical communicator, you probably know why you design and write information. It’s because you want to satisfy the user’s information need. But how do you know what information users need in the first place?
Your answer will differ depending on how you define an “information need,” which is a central concept in the world of technical communication. The purpose of this article is to distinguish between two conflicting definitions of an information need, and to show how each perspective represented affects the design of end user assistance.
You should, of course, abide by the perspective that leads to happy users, but which is it?Read More
Being in the technical documentation business, we naturally maintain close contact with the inner world of technical documentation and the users of our product—the tech writers themselves. In the interest of being able to offer the best product possible, it’s our job to understand the everyday life of tech writers: How they work, what they're aiming to achieve, as well as what challenges they encounter most.Read More
I’ve recently made a curious discovery about my fellow co-workers. Whether it's a lunchtime break or the rare after-work, for some reason our conversation tends to gravitate toward the subject of music. One employee will say, “I used to be an opera singer.” Another will volunteer, “I play the guitar.” Me? I play the oboe. Even the CEO is in on this peculiar pattern, we eventually find out, with his lifelong devotion to playing the piano.Read More
Us technical communicators have been taught that end user assistance for a product should mostly include instructions addressing specific user tasks. But how do you know that the method you’re using to identify these tasks, such as Target Group Analysis, actually leads to the information users are searching for?
I have always thought that grouping users into target groups, like installer, operator, etc., and analyzing the tasks each group is supposed to perform, is the wrong starting point for anticipating the information needs of users. Especially when designing information intended to support a user of your company's products.Read More
In the Designing for the Searching User series I discuss how to predict user questions, and how to make answers findable. But equally important, is to discuss why we are doing this in the first place, and what it actually means. This edition to the series is devoted to addressing these questions, and to supplying technical communicators with some solid arguments for why now is the time to change our approach to user experience design.Read More
As a fairly new member of the Excosoft team, I’m honoured to add a few words to our blogosphere. My background isn’t foremost in engineering, but rather in linguistics, translation, and technical writing—so I'll be contributing on those topics.Read More
Technical specialists are the content providers in the world of technical documentation. Whereas technical writers take on the role of editing product information for optimal user comprehension, the content providers are the inventors, product owners, and technical specialists standing closest to the product itself. They possess in-depth knowledge of how a given product works, why it exists, and what solutions it has to offer its users.Read More
Over the summer, I became a bit provoked while reading the thoughts and opinions of people in our industry regarding how technical communication is supposed to look in future. My overall impression left me mulling over the following question: Should technical communicators be designing content so that the right information presents itself to the right person, at the right time, on the right device, and in the right location?Read More
Many technical communicators have learned that an end user manual should consist mainly of tasks. That is, instructions detailing each step that users are recommended to follow. And indeed, a user must complete many tasks do get a product to work.
But how do we know which tasks to write about in end user manuals? Are you like me, a technical communicator who finds it confusing at times to identify what task to write? Then this article, part 6 in the Designing for the Searching User series, is for you.Read More
Every time I meet a customer who is considering setting up a CCMS, there’s this thick air of reluctance in the room. They envision a mountain of work ahead of them, with ultimate benefits taking years to fully realize. As a sales guy, I try to keep the focus on the ease and time-savings that await them once the new structure is in place. Plus I’m honest— while implementation doesn’t require a year long process, neither can it be accomplished in 5 minutes. However, once set up is complete, the benefits can be enjoyed immediately. How do I prove the point? From my experience, nothing speaks louder than a real-life example.Read More
A core skill required of technical communicators is the ability to determine what type of information end users need in order to achieve a particular purpose. Many technical communicators, including myself, struggle at times with figuring out what information to write and how to organize it. See for example a recent discussion on LinkedIn.
In my previous article , I discussed the principle of predicting user questions and introduced the concept of question type, which serves as a fundament to knowing what type of information to write. But what types of questions do users ask?Read More
Metso Minerals and their technical documentation department were snagged in a catch-22. The renaissance of the mining industry had presented them with a great opportunity to thrive and expand, yet a time consuming technical documentation process was threatening their competitiveness in the marketplace.Read More
The role of technical communicators may be about to change. Corporations are increasingly making use of the knowledge production capabilities built up within their technical documentation teams to drive business processes, and create value beyond the documentation itself.Read More