You learn more from users in 5 minutes than you do from 2 weeks of project meetings

I recently had a project with a small group of users, maybe 35. I joined the project about a month before the scheduled release. I wasn't sure what kind of help the app needed, or what format. A wiki? Screencasts? Online help? A short PDF? I talked with the lead customer, and he hadn't given much thought about help. I talked with the project manager, a quality assurance engineer, and a developer. The PM didn't know what kind of help the a...

WordPress Tip: Editing Posts in Bulk

When you have a lot of posts to change, you can bulk edit the posts by changing the number of posts shown in the screen options menu before applying the edit.

WordPress Tip: Inserting a Gallery of Images into a Post

When you upload photos to a post in WordPress, the photos become associated with the post. If you insert the word gallery in brackets (as shown below), the post will show all the post's photos in a thumbnail grid. [gallery]

WordPress Tip: Adding Custom Fields in Posts

You can add custom fields below posts, and then pull out the values of those custom fields and insert them into a template. This reduces the sophistication behind styling post data, and automates the display in a template. This technique relies on the Custom Fields Template plugin. Here are the main steps: 1. Install the Custom Field Template. 2. Navigate to Appearance > Editor and include thi...

40 Foundational Books for Technical Writing

I received the following question from a reader: I have semi-transitioned to a new position at my job where I’m responsible for creating and maintaining documentation for our systems, programs, policies, etc. I was selected for the position because I have written many tutorials for our applications to be read by new employees. Since I have no formal education in writing (I love to write, but I majored in accounting with a masters in infor...

WordPress Tip: Implementing Photo Galleries

If you have a lot of photos, you can implement them into galleries and albums using the NextGen Gallery plugin. This image gallery plugin is one of the most robust plugins for uploading, managing, captioining, and tagging images. It works well if you have a lot of images that you constantly upload and display on your site.

Why Learning Software Is So Hard, and Organizing Content into Levels [Organizing Content #26]

Findability / organizing content 1.0 New Series: Organizing Content [Organizing Content 1] 1.2 Introducing Project Swordfish [Organizing Content 2] 1.3 Things Fall Apart, The Centre Cannot Hold [Organizing Content 3] ...

WordPress Tip: Moving Images with Site Migrations

If you've ever had to migrate a WordPress site, moving images from one host to another, you know how tedious and time-consuming this process is. In this WordPress screencast, I provide a tip that helps you move the images in a seamless, simple way that almost seems like magic using the Cache Images plugin.

WordPress Tip: Adding an Edit Link for Each Post

You can add an "Edit" link in the metadata below your post title. This Edit link makes it easy to edit the specific post without having to navigate through the Posts section of your WordPress Dashboard. Here's the edit snippet of code that I mention in the screencast: <?php edit_post_link('Edit', '', ''); ?> Add this code snippet somewhere within the loop, such as with the post metadata.

More Students Questions about Technical Writing

Listen here: In this podcast (another monologue), I respond to more student questions about technical writing. The questions are as follows: Question 1 - Who/what are the people and purposes that you write for now? And in the past? Question 2 - What are the kinds of things that you write? Question 3 - What are the processes, methods, practices you use to write those things? Question 4 - What are the technologies you us...

The Importance of Visual Communication, or How to Build a Dirt Sifter

Recently due to flooding in my window wells, I had to dig the wells deeper. I piled up the dirt and rocks around the outside, and then realized I needed to sift the dirt from the rocks because I wanted to put the rocks back in, but move the dirt elsewhere in my yard to re-slope it. To sift the dirt from the rocks, I needed a dirt sifter, also called a gravel sifter. I thought I could simply buy one at Home Depot, but they do not sell them...

WordPress Tip: Showing Ads in Your Sidebar

You can show ads in your sidebar through a simple plugin called WP125. This plugin allows you to add and manage a collection of 125 pixel graphic ads. One note I forgot to mention in the screencast is that each ad must be exactly 125 x 125 pixels in size. Otherwise you'll end up with strange looking spaces in your sidebar images. See more WordPress Tips.

Answers About the Field of Technical Writing for Students

Listen here: In this monologue podcast, I answer a student's questions about the field of technical writing, including how I fell into it, what kinds of projects I work on, and other details. Her questions are as follows: What did you study in college and where did you attend? What degrees/certificates do you have? Did you know what you wanted to do before you graduated? If so, what was it? Is it what you're doing now?&...

WordPress Tip: Making Elements Overlap on Your Site

In this WordPress tip, I show you how to make elements overlap. You have to add a position and z-index declaration in each of the styles that are overlapping. I also explain a tip for making the overlapping image fit seamlessly on top of the other element, without a white border. See more WordPress Tips.

WordPress Tip: Eliminating Spam

One way you can eliminate spam (besides activating Akismet) is by removing all the spam that shows up in comment threads on specific posts. This is because spam attracts spam. So if you can cut out spam from a post, you're less likely to get more spam on that same post.