Here’s our Interview with Diana Logan MISTC of Citrix Systems, on what it’s like to be a technical communicator.
Cherryleaf has been working on a project which shows people how to teach non-readers to read. We’ve been working with Elizabeth Ainley, who has written a book, go for it!, which can be used to teach illiterate and/or dyslexic adults.
Elizabeth asked Cherryleaf to help her re-write the existing instructions aimed at the adult coaches who will be using go for it! This involved making the instructions clearer, and clarifying the learning outcomes.
Schoolchildren in Sierra Leone have been the first users of the project. It means a 12 year old child who can read can now teach others. The school is run by Miriam mason-Sesay MBE for the Educaid, who sent Elizabeth these photos of the teaching materials in use:
Cherryleaf’s Trends in Technical Communication Course – Advanced Technical Writing Techniques will be held on 27th February 2015.
If you want to discover new approaches to technical writing, this one-day, hands-on advanced workshop is right for you.
You’ll find out how Technical Authors in leading companies are now applying techniques from other disciplines (such as psychology, copywriting, usability and elearning) into the information they create.
The course has been designed to be independent of any particular authoring tool, and to work in both a structured and unstructured authoring environment.
For the ISTC’s YouTube Channel, Ellis Pratt (Cherryleaf) is interviewing a number of technical communicators.
Here is Adrian Warman (IBM Cloudant):
Here is Brian Harris (Red Gate Software):
There’ll be more interviews in the coming weeks.
Yesterday we released our latest elearning training course – single sourcing and content reuse.
This online training course teaches the basic skills in single sourcing and writing content for reuse. The ten learning modules in this course contain videos of the trainer with supporting slides and images. The course includes exercises for the delegates to complete and review.
We’re planning to carry out a number of videoed interviews with a range of Technical Authors this week. This is to help promote the profession. We’ll be asking questions such as what their role is inside their companies, and how they became a Technical Author.
The videos will be uploaded to the YouTube Channel for the Institute of Scientific and Technical Communicators, once we’ve edited and published them.
I was due to be recorded/interviewed first thing this morning over the phone for a piece a BBC local radio station was going to do about instructions and how get written. I was standing in for the President of the Institute of Scientific and Technical Communiators (ISTC).
However, a producer called this morning to tell me they couldn’t stand up the facts that had prompted them to look at this subject (regarding some instructions in a Homebase product), and they’d decided to shelve/postpone the item. I also suspect the Charlie Hebdo killings have (rightly) taken precedence over other stories today.
I’d spoken one of the producers the day before. What they were interested in knowing was, how do instructions get written? She said she wouldn’t know where to start or what to do. We chatted about the technical writing process: how technical communications learn about a product; how they work out what topics need to be written; and how the instructions themselves are organised.
It was nice for them to have contacted the ISTC, and perhaps it will be something they pick up again in the future.
It’s time to put our heads above the parapet, make ourselves hostages to fortune, and predict what will happen in technical communication in 2015 and beyond.
1. “User Churn” will lead to SaaS providers looking to assist users in better ways
The move towards Software as a Service (SaaS) has led to organisations worrying about “user churn” – if users give up using the application after only a short period of time, the company won’t generate enough income. This means it’s becoming more important to assist the users when they begin to use the product.
2. Organisations will take a more holistic approach to communication with users
We’re seeing organisations looking at the all the ways it communicates with users, and making sure they are consistent and supportive of each other. For example, the training emails sent out to new users, the User Interface text, the Help and the training videos.
3. Software developers will see Help as part of the product design, as first user Help grows in popularity
Instead of seeing the user documentation as almost as an afterthought at the end of the project, we’re seeing organisations considering the first user interaction Help you see in mobile applications. This has to be planned into the UI itself, which means technical writing can no longer be left to the end of the project.
4. Microsoft’s greater level of informality in its Help will be copied by others
Microsoft’s “No more robot speak” programme, which has lead to a more empathic and informal tone will be noticed by more companies. We understand Microsoft has only spoken officially about this change twice; it’s likely that many organisations will misunderstand what Microsoft is doing and make mistakes when they try to adopt a similar approach.
5. DITA will make slow progress
It’s easy to forget that the DITA technical writing standard is used by fewer than 10% of technical communicators. When the Lightweight DITA standard approved later in 2015, it may become easier for smaller organisations to adopt DITA. However, the adoption of DITA is likely to continue as its current rate – a slow, but steady 1% per annum.
A lot of these trends actually began some time ago, but we’re likely to see them adopted more widely in 2015.
What you see as future trends? Use the Comments box to let us know.