Content Strategy - a knol by Jeffrey MacIntyre

Content Strategy - a knol by Jeffrey MacIntyre. Looking to get up to speed on content strategy? This page contains a sizable collection of links, references, definitions, and other useful information as a primer to the field. Content strategy is pretty cool. In general, it refers to making careful decisions about all the content on your site to achieve a calculated end with the user. Again, thanks tc.eserver.org for the tip. (By the way, ...

Best Practices For Effective Design Of "About me"-Pages | Design Showcase | Smashing Magazine

Best Practices For Effective Design Of "About me"-Pages | Design Showcase | Smashing Magazine. Smashing Magazine routinely comes out with posts that have 50+ examples of something. Usually I gloss over these posts, but the About Me page is critical for a blog, so I read it more carefully. Readers want to know a little about the author they're reading. My About Me page isn't that exciting -- certainly not creative or artsy enough to make S...

Is This Meeting Really Necessary?

After a recent conference call I had for an STC chapter meeting, we needed an online mechanism to keep the discussion going. Doc Guy set up a Google Groups discussion site (which includes a threaded forum and wiki) to facilitate the online discussion, and we started a few threads, but soon the discussion focused , unfortunately, only on scheduling dates for in-person meetings. In a world of virtual tools—blogs, wikis, feeds, forums, lists...

The Paris Review - Gay Talese: The Art of Nonfiction No. 2

The Paris Review - Gay Talese: The Art of Nonfiction No. 2. This interview with Gay Talese in The Paris Review is fascinating. What appeals to me is how Talese gathers information for his prose. He goes out and talks to people; he interacts and observes and takes notes. Critics identify him with the New Journalism movement, a group of writers who blend traditional news reporting with literary devices from the fiction world. Talese is look...

InDesignSecrets » Learn InDesign One Feature at a Time

InDesignSecrets »  Learn InDesign One Feature at a Time. The author recommends setting aside 15-20 minutes a day to learn a complicated tool such as InDesign. I couldn't agree more. The same technique applies to exercise and anything else that is overwhelming in large amounts. Approaching it little by little each day, you find that it's not so overwhelming. However, this article has an even more profound implication for help authoring. If...

Keys to Being a Trusted Source of Information: Gryphon Mountain Journals

Keys to Being a Trusted Source of Information: Gryphon Mountain Journals. My colleage Ben Minson reflects on one of the key benefits of engaging in social media: trust. And then he analyzes trust in relation to the help materials we create as technical communicators. "If our audience thinks about us, they likely see us as just another part of the team that develops the product. We're not their friends—we're one of the people trying to mak...

If You're a Writer, Write

Many of you—at least a third, I'm guessing—are writers by nature. You majored in English, dabbled in creative writing, probably immerse yourself in literary novels at lunch. You love the written word. You revel in your expertise in grammar, your fine tastes in sentence structure and semantics. You proudly display your Chicago Manual of Style on your bookshelf. Maybe you even secretly want to be a novelist. Perhaps you have an unfinished m...

STC's wiki is also scheduled for demolition :: TechCommDood

STC's wiki is also scheduled for demolition :: TechCommDood. I admit that while I haven't visited the STC Forums in at least a year, I am surprised to see them being taken down. I didn't realize the hosting costs were so prohibitive that it was an expense that needed to be cut. Then again, I'm not sure the STC is taking them down to cut expenses. In STC's announcement, they don't actually say why they're taking the forums down. Instead, t...

What Users Don't Care About

It seems most of the conversations in our industry today revolve around value. If you go to stc.org, the large graphic at the center of the site says "The Value of Technical Communication." (Given the recent events in the STC, to me the graphic really reads, "The value of the STC organization.") At any rate, technical writers have been talking about demonstrating value to employers in quantifiable ways for years. Technical writers frequen...

Get Set Up

Rather than use Writer River as the interface for publishing links, we use Publish2, which is a link sharing platform. You use Publish2 to manage your links, and then publish your links to one of the blogs that you have configured in Publish2. You can add multiple blogs and Twitter accounts to your Publish2 profile, and then publish a link to all of the sites at the same time. You just have to set up your blog and Twitter accounts in your...

Content Theory: Sheep and Chaos — MK Anderson

Content Theory: Sheep and Chaos — MK Anderson. Keith Anderson writes about the need for technical communicators to focus on user needs and the user experience as their starting point. Does DITA fulfill this focus? Not in the eyes of the user. Users want better search and social networking.

A Mile Wide and 30 Seconds Deep: A Metaphor for Help from Mike Hughes

I don't know if it was my long bike ride along a river or my immersion in the writing phase of a documentation project, but this week I've been pondering Mike Hughes' assertion that help should be a "mile wide and thirty seconds deep." I first heard Mike mention this help landscape metaphor in a podcast several months back. Mike also wrote an article called "The Help Landscape: A Mile Wide and Thirty Seconds Deep" for UX Matters a couple ...

Two New Tools I'm Learning

Sometimes I can hardly believe I've gotten along for so many years as a technical communicator without a thorough understanding of Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Flash. They seem critical to technical communication. Why Illustrator With vector images (which Illustrator allows you to create), your images in quick reference guides will look sharp and crisp. The more quick reference guides I create, the more I realize how necessary images and d...

Biking to Work – A Good Idea, But …

This weekend I attempted to bike to the new location that my work is moving to -- Riverton, rather than downtown Salt Lake City. It's a 15 mile commute from my house in Eagle Mountain, part of it along the Jordan River Parkway trail, which is a scenic, paved route wide enough for a couple of bikes. The idea of biking to work appeals strongly to me on several levels. If I biked 30 miles a day, I'd be in great shape. Getting more exercise t...

How the Web and the Weblog have changed Writing

How the Web and the Weblog have changed Writing. I saw this on Gordon Meyer's blog. It talks about how blogs and web publishing have provided venues for texts that, due to incorrect page length, wouldn't have otherwise been published. Traditionally, texts had to be either 5 pages for magazines or 200 pages for books. Blogs now allow paragraph-length thoughts or 20 pages essays. Length (either too long or too short)  is no longer a deterre...