User experience in restaurants or keep your users in mind even at leisure time

Believe it or not, but an InfoDev at work is an InfoDev for life. As Information Developers, we perceive the world from the users’ perspective always questioning ourselves: “Is it clear enough? Can a procedure be shorter? Will that be understood globally?”
Sometimes, before you know it, you find yourself evaluating the user assistance in a 5-star hotel, scrutinizing an airport sign or a restaurant menu, and hunting for the ambiguous, the ineffective, and the incomprehensible with the noble intent to make a user experience smoother.

In this article, I will share my experience of reading the icons in a menu at one of the restaurants.

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Linear User Guide: Is It any Good?

Many believe that written user guides are doomed to extinction. Although their usage has diminished slightly, they are not clean gone yet. They are still with us—serving their particular audience and making us wonder what is the best approach to structuring them.

With the rise in the popularity of online documentation, many have ditched linearity and adopted a topic-based approach to writing—faster, more convenient, and definitely more efficient from the user perspective; absolutely challenging from the author perspective. But is such an approach still any good for structuring user guides which, unlike help systems, don’t provide immediate assistance to the user, differ in the very context of use, and are designed with a clear intention—to teach and guide?

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Screencasting checklist for beginners

When you are new to the screencasting topic, starting working on your first screencast is a pretty challenging task. We’d wish that it was as easy as just recording the screen. However, fortunately, “I’ve done the procedure million times and I won’t screw it up!” – say no professional anyone. The good movies we see on the big screen are that good because nothing was done on the fly. The amount of time that people spend before the cameras actually start rolling is tremendous. Of course, we are not in Hollywood here, but why should we set for worse?

As a newbie myself, I have some fresh knowledge (and many hours of research), so I tried to summarize some tips, which will make your first experience with screencasting a smoother ride.

The question we all have – so, where do I begin? Continue reading

MadCap Flare: pain points and solutions (part 2)

Using MadCap Flare, a help authoring tool, can be cool and unbearable at the same time. Those InfoDevs who deal with it on a regular basis will definitely understand what I mean. The more I work with this tool, the more I learn about its capabilities and pitfalls. The work on multiple print outputs and the HTML5 target makes the challenge even more exciting. Previously, I shared some issues I encountered with possible solutions for them (See MadCap Flare: pain points and solutions). In this article, I have prepared another portion of troubles to be considered.  So, Ready Steady Go!

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Diagram Series: The role of text

A well-drawn diagram communicates a very clear and direct message. You, as an Information Developer, can explain to users the workflow, interrelationship among components, or data exchange through visual assets. Diagrams are not just about cool shapes and trendy colors, but also about the meaning—text. In this article, I will share some important rules how to phrase, format, and position the text in a diagram to make it look more distinct and professional.

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Empathy map: UX practice applied to TechComm

As the IT industry changes introducing new trends and searching to propose more value to a user, technical communication should adapt as well. Technical communicators start searching for better ways to present information and predict all pains to be resolved by the documentation.

One way of doing so is to look for some useful practices outside of technical communication domain. In this article, I would like to briefly introduce a visual practice of empathy mapping that can be adopted into technical communication.

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