121s – review

Our first day of 121 meetings went really well yesterday. It’s always a surprise what ideas and suggestions other people have, and it’s always a pleasure to give advice and feedback. Everyone turned up early – is that a technical author trait, I wonder? No-one got lost; everyone found us.

We’ll be scheduling more dates soon.

Wanted Technical Author, Cambridge, £25K-£35K

#2866 Technical Author, Cambridge, £25K-£35K + Benefits

This is an ideal job for someone who loves working in a fast-paced, innovative, expanding and successful organisation. Our client is a very successful software house based in Cambridge. It is looking for a technical author who can develop online Help, Web-based Help and embedded help for GUIs and APIs.

As you will be writing for database administrators and developers, you’ll need to understand the concepts of database design. You will also be working with user experience specialists on GUI design and conducting peer reviews and editing colleagues’ work. You also need to have skills in HTML and a Help authoring tool, such as RoboHelp.

Benefits include 25 days’ holiday, BUPA healthcare, and stock options.

Contact us for more information.

1-2-1s follow up

Well, I’ve had more requests for 1-2-1s than I expected, so I need to sit down today and look at who I can fit in and when. I’ll be scheduling some additional dates in January and February, so I can meet everyone. They will be at the same venue – near Waterloo Bridge and the Strand.

1-2-1s in January and February

I will be in central London (near The Strand) on 30th January and 20th February, to meet up with people involved or interested in technical authoring and communication.

I’m arranging informal meetings with the aim of getting to know you all a little better, by meeting you face to face.

If you wish to book a private meeting with me then please contact me via the contact form on our Web site or on 01784 258672.

The user assistance skill set

We were having a clearout when I found a handout from a presentation made by Joe Welinske on the user assistance skill set. Although this presentation must have been made four or five years ago, it still rings true today.

According to Joe’s survey, the skill set of for user assistance comprises:

  • Writing
  • Editing
  • Indexing
  • Quality assurance and testing
  • Graphics development
  • Information design
  • Usability testing
  • Task analysis
  • Localization
  • Coding Help
  • Coding Web content
  • Programming

The most valued user assistance skills were:

Writing procedures (92%)
Experience with tools (85%)
Writing reference information (79%)
Interviewing (74%)
Coding HTML (72%)

As Joe put it, you get paid for the writing.

Web 2.0 style guides

We recieved an email asking:

“I have just started at this software company, and one of my tasks is to work on the writing style guide. I have been looking around on the Internet for a style guide that covers writing style for web applications (or interfaces), and am wondering if you could point me in the right direction. I am looking for a style guide, preferrably in the public domain, that recommends how web-based user interface items should be written in software manuals.

I’ve looked at a number of company style guides including Microsoft, Sun, and IBM. However, with traditional interface tools like buttons and menu items evolving with the emergence of more sleeker web-based interfaces (rather than the standard dialog boxes that have been around for some time), I was wondering if any software company (or group), besides the ones mentioned, have come up with more up-to-date descriptions of some of these items in their style guide. I would be very happy if you could offer some advice here.”

It’s a good question. Does anyone know the answer?

The $110K Technical Communicator

We’ve currently got a vacancy on our books offering the highest salary we’ve seen for a senior technical author: £50K-£54K plus benefits, pension contribution etc. That’s roughly $110,000 per annum, with no healthcare fees or “co-pays” to come out of that. The catch? You need to be based (or legally entitled to work) in the UK , and have the skills and experience they’re looking for.