Peter J. Bogaards posted a link on Twitter yesterday to an article and a press release on how IBM is adopting a design-led approach to software design.
“IBM Design Thinking is a broad, ambitious new approach to re-imagining how we design our products and solutions … Quite simply, our goal — on a scale unmatched in the industry — is to modernize enterprise software for today’s user who demands great design everywhere, at home and at work.” (Phil Gilbert, general manager, IBM Design)
I understand the IBM Design Thinking approach will affect everything it does: product development, processes, innovation, and, interestingly, the technical documentation/user assistance associated with products. Both design and traditional technical communication share the same goals – to deliver something that is very usable, robust and aesthetically pleasing – so it makes sense to have the two teams aligned closely.
Past clients include technical communicators from Citrix, GE, IBM UK, Lloyds Banking Group, Sage plc, Schlumberger and Visa International. One delegate commented:
“The way in which customers consume our content is changing, as are the different expectations customers have regarding user assistance and support. Your course provided further insight and ideas regarding how to review and adapt to ensure content is relevant and appealing to our customers.”
This course is ideal for Technical Authors and those developing assistance for users of software.
We’ve been asked to a find candidates for a fabulous permanent vacancy at one of our clients.
You need to lead and develop their vision of the role of User Assistance and content. This means treating content as a function of design (and user experience), with the appropriate information provided to users at all points during the customer journey. Your role will be discover and incorporate the best ideas and practices from other leaders in content creation into your team.
In effect, this means they are looking for someone who is currently:
a content strategy manager (media manager/editor) with experience of developing user assistance for software, or
a documentation/technical publications manager with experience of content strategy.
You can work in Buckinghamshire or in Cambridge, and you can work part of the week from home if you wish.
I met up with a Technical Author at the Technical Communications UK 2013 conference whom I’ve been talking to on the phone over recent months. She’s been trying to convince her bosses that they should take a less chaotic approach to producing user documentation.
I’d previously suggested she look at how much it was costing them to translate their user documentation, so they could build a business case around that. She thought they were translating the user documentation into eight languages, but, at the conference, she told me that she’d discovered it was actually 24.
With that amount of localisation, there’s an opportunity for some significant savings if they could re-use content from one Help system in another.
Google Glass, a wearable computer with a screen above the right eye, goes on sale in 2014. Glass is almost certainly going to be used to support maintenance and repair calls, providing technicians (and other types of user) with the ability to access manuals and discuss situations with remote colleagues.
So are your user manuals, and the other content users might need to access, compatible with Google Glass?
The article highlights ways in which eCommerce Web sites deceive customers in order to entice them to buy a product or service, and makes us think about where the dividing line sits between persuasion and deception. Nodder included a little diagram to help illustrate that”evil” design can be identified as design that benefits the designer without any corresponding benefit to the customer. He categorises ”commercial” as being a design that benefits both designer and customer, leaving ”charitable” to describe designs where the benefit is to society as a whole rather than to designer or customer.
This thought-provoking article (and diagram) got me thinking about whether the adherence to page layout design in technical communication for online transmission of information might fit this category of ”evil”.
Here are the slides the panel put together for the Adobe Day Europe discussion on “Assisting the millennial user – challenges and opportunities in the decade ahead”. We didn’t get time to cover all of the topics in the time we had available (unfortunately some of the previous speakers overran their time slots). Continue reading →