All posts about
Technical communication

WritersUA 2005 Salary Survey

“Level of experience is one of the most important aspects in determining salary level. There is a sizeable increase in salary as we move beyond our first years in the technical communication field. Starting salaries average in the mid-40s and move up into the mid-50s as our careers progress. However, there is a stagnation as we reach the middle years of our work experience with average salaries remaining fixed in the mid-70s. There appears to be an earnings ceiling for many of us.” (WinWriters)

Comparison of Two Evaluation Techniques for Technical Documentation

“This study compared two evaluation techniques, Usability Testing and Cognitive Walkthrough, in their ability to identify errors in aviation maintenance documentation. The techniques were evaluated to see how much unique information they each produced as well as the type of errors identified. Results showed that the techniques were complementary in their findings and both are recommended in the development of technical documentation.” (Bonnie Rogers et al. – SURL 7.1) – courtesy of uidesigner

Stairway to Experts: Show me, coach me, test me, let me, congratulate

“Back in the last century, people learned to operate computer software by reading thick manuals laden with obscure text and scant pictures. Or they attended training classes where they squinted at the instructor breezily demonstrating barely recognizable procedures. Or they clickety-click-clicked their way through the Help file, gleaning snippets of information but never weaving them into a coherent tapestry. Today, computer users can learn from a personal tutor who demonstrates the program, guides them through their initial efforts, monitors their growing skills, and certifies their mastery. Tools like Captivate, Camtasia, and TurboDemo make it possible for teachers and communicators to create effective software simulations–without programming. Even simple presentation tools, such as PowerPoint can create truly interactive simulations.” (William Horton – WritersUA)

S1000D: International Specification for Technical Publications utilising a Common Source DataBase

“This specification has been produced to establish standards for the documentation of any civil or military vehicle or equipment. It is based on international standards such as SGML/XML and CGM for production and use of electronic documentation. In addition, it defines a Common Source Data Base (CSDB) to provide source information for compilation of the publications and for use in electronic logistics information systems to deliver modules of information direct to the user.”

Splitting Books Open: Trends in Traditional and Online Technical Documentation

“While technical publishers strive to adapt to new online media and formats, online efforts at self-education by computer users are becoming a form of true grassroots documentation. This talk discusses the strengths and weaknesses of each side — traditional books and user self-education — and suggests how they may converge. It offers suggestions for improving the educational effects of mailing lists, computing project web sites, and other community documentation.” (Andy Oram – O’Reilly Open Source)

Grammar, Punctuation, and Capitalization: A Handbook for Technical Writers and Editors

“This publication is directed toward professional writers, editors, and proofreaders. Those whose profession lies in other areas (for example, research or management), but who have occasion to write or review others’ writing will also find this information useful. By carefully studying the examples and revisions to these examples, you can discern most of the techniques in my editing ‘bag of tricks’; I hope that you editors will find these of particular interest.” (Mary K. McCaskill – NASA Langley Research Center) – courtesy of lucdesk

The importance of documentation: Discover what’s missing in today’s documentation efforts, and why it’s gone

“As documentation decreases in quality, users stop turning to it. As users stop turning to it, companies stop trying to maintain it – why bother, if the users won’t read it? This line of reasoning is dooming the future of documentation to failure. Documentation is important and needs to be taken seriously.” (Peter SeebachIBM developerWorks) – courtesy of lawrence lee

Live help systems: An approach to intelligent help for web information systems 

“Since the creation of the World-Wide Web we have seen a great growth in the complexity of Web sites. There has also been a large expansion in number of Web sites and in amount of usage. As a consequence, more and more Web site users are having problems accomplishing their tasks, and it is increasingly important to provide them with support.” (Johan AbergAdaptive Hypertext & Hypermedia)

EIDC newsletter

“The European Information Development Conference is the first European high quality event for professionals dealing with multilingual product information such as technical writers, web designers, documentation and information managers, translators, vendors. It provides an excellent platform for information and knowledge exchange between experts from the industry, researchers, education experts, service providers and free-lancers.” (TCeurope)

The rhetoric of the Challenger disaster: A case study for technical and professional communication

“This Web site responds to the need for practical application of rhetorical principles in science and organizational communication. The site offers instructors of technical and professional communication a tool that allows them to bring concrete examples that illustrate rhetorical principles into the classroom. Using the Challenger disaster as the case study and theme, the site provides the social, political, and technical context of the disaster to help develop understanding of the background and exigence of the situation.” (Association of Teachers of Technical Writing)

Information on the Assembly Line: A review of Information Design and Its Implications for Technical Communicators

“Technological advances have made endless amounts of information on nearly every subject easily accessible, while at the same time fostering an economic climate conducive to international trade and partnerships. The challenge for companies then becomes one of figuring out how best to manage and use this mass of information, a task complicated by the increasingly global nature of business that requires products to be tailored to more specialized user groups in a wider array of formats and in different languages. Hence the emergence of information design, a field that technical communicators would do well to associate themselves with. Information design is centered around solving many of today’s communication problems, and technical communicators are well suited to participate in those discussions. This thesis seeks to understand what information design is and the role that technical communicators can play in this important and emerging field. A comprehensive literature review, this thesis seeks to represent and summarize the overall body of work within the field of technical communication concerning information design and its related issues, as well as to suggest ways in which technical communicators can better participate in the design and implementation of information design systems.” (Jason Nichols – University of Central Florida) – courtesy of victor lombardi