Podcast -- Transitioning from Technical Writing into Usability
Download MP3 (right-click, select Save Target As)
Duration: 30 min.
In this podcast, I talk with Theresa Putkey, a usability consultant in Vancouver, about how she transitioned from technical writing into usability. This is part II of the previous conversation with Theresa.
Topics in this Podcast
In this podcast, we talk about the following:
- How to move into usability
- Designing user interfaces
- Contributing towards usability on project teams
- Compelling reasons to transition from technical writing into usability
- Whether applications can be so intuitive that they never need manuals
- Conjectures to the question -- Will technical writers ever be extinct?
- Making content more findable in search
- Tagging topics with concept keywords to increase their search rating
- Harnessing related topics, concept keywords, and synonyms for search results
- Browsing in the table of contents versus relying on search to find content
- Making content findable in large projects (such as those with 3,000+ topics)
- Using card sorts to determine user terms for topic names
- Using focus groups to gather terminology and function lists from users
- Usability consultant versus technical writer -- preferences, purposes, and job satisfaction
- Whether technical writing is only a transitional field
- Defining different categories within user experience: interaction design, graphic design, programming/web designer and programmer, information architecture (designing information spaces)
- Creating navigation that people can use to find information
- Expanding beyond user interface when it comes to usability
- The Information Architecture Institute (IA Institute)
- Content Management Professionals
- IXD, Interaction Designers Group
- Human Factors Group
- Vancouver User Experience Group (VanUE)
- Organizations and professional groups for usability
- Choosing your career -- technical writing or usability?
- Teambuilding, including everyone, and communicating regularly
- Building relationships in your company (the key to success)
- Collaboration, teambuilding, and communication -- breaking down silos across departments
- Techniques for bringing people together (the importance of the watercooler)
- The paradox of making friends and winning people to your side
Note: Ever wonder why I make such an extensive list of topics covered? Audio doesn't have keywords like blog posts, so people who search for them on Google never find the audio unless I saturate the show notes with relevant keywords.
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Intro music is Velveture by Ocean Alexander
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About Tom Johnson
I'm a technical writer based in the San Francisco Bay area. In this blog, I write about topics related to technical writing and communication — such as software documentation, API documentation, visual communication, information architecture, writing techniques, plain language, tech comm careers, and more. Check out simplifying complexity and API documentation for some deep dives into these topics. If you're a technical writer and want to keep on top of the latest trends in the field, be sure to subscribe to email updates. You can also learn more about me or contact me.