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Document 360: #1 Knowledge Base Software

Podcast: Make Your Help Indispensable, Safeguard Your Job

by Tom Johnson on Jan 31, 2009 •
categories: podcasts

Download MP3 (to download, right-click and select Save Target As)
Length: 30 min.

In this podcast, I talk with Mike Hughes, second vice president of the STC, about his latest UXMatters article, "Straight Talk: Surviving Tough Times as a User Assistance Writer." We talk about how to make help more valuable, more worthwhile and user-focused, so you don't lose your job when companies begin laying off employees based on lack of value.

Here are a few other topics we cover in this podcast:

  • Where help must appear to be used, and how to pitch it to the user
  • Why documenting everything is sometimes the worst thing you can do
  • What it means to make your help "a mile wide and thirty seconds deep"
  • How identifying points of pain and information gaps can help you avoid writing obvious instructions
  • Why tools and technologies can distract you from the content

About Mike Hughes

Mike is a seasoned technical communicator with 20 plus years of experience. He currently works for IBM Internet Security Systems as a user assistance architect. He holds a PhD in Instructional Technology from the University of Georgia and a Masters in Technical and Professional Communication from Southern Polytechnic State University. Mike also contributes regular columns to UX Matters and writes a blog at http://user-assistance.blogspot.com.

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About Tom Johnson

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.

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