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Ace your user assistance for software: technical writing, copywriting, HTML Help, usability, and multimedia - by Epic Trends

By beckylash ·
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Great guidelines do not change overnight

by beckylash In reply to Ace your user assistance ...

Great guidelines for user interface design do not change overnight. They withstand the test of time. In an industry like ours, that is a rare thing. However, if you plunk down the pesos for a book on user interface guidelines, your investment will not go<br>
<br>
Great guidelines for user interface design do not change overnight. They withstand the test of time. In an industry like ours, that is a rare thing. However, if you plunk down the pesos for a book on user interface guidelines, your investment will not go out-of-date in three months. <br>
<br>
Follow guidelines from companies who have already invested millions in usability testing. The list includes books and web links.<br>
<br>
<b>Windows</b><br>
<br>
The Windows Interface Guidelines for Software Design [Microsoft, 1995]. <br>
<br>
<a href="http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/default.asp?url=/library/en-us/dnanchor/html/anch_uidesigndev.asp">Microsoft user interface guidelines</a><br>
<br>
<b>Macintosh</b><br>
<br>
Macintosh Human Interface Guidelines [Apple Computer, Inc. 1993]<br>
<br>
<a href="http://developer.apple.com/documentation/UserExperience/Conceptual/OSXHIGuidelines/index.html#//apple_ref/doc/uid/20000957">Macintosh user interface guidelines</a><br>
<br>
<b>Other platforms, cross-platform</b><br>
<br>
Java Look and Feel Design Guidelines [Sun Microsystems, 1999].<br>
<br>
DSF/Motif Style Guide: Rev 1.2 [OSF, 1993].<br>
<br>
Design Guide for Multiplatform Graphical User Interfaces [McFarland and Dayton, 1995].<p><div class="blogdisclaim"><a href="http://www.epictrends.com//usability-technical-writing-copywriting-multimedia/200505.shtml#0502">This post originally appeared on an external website</a></div>

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What to think about before you hire a technical writer . . .

by beckylash In reply to Ace your user assistance ...

Hiring a technical writer or proofreader can save you time before a product release. Good product documentation has many benefits, the most important being that you will have fewer support calls and better sales.<br>
<br>
Your least expensive option is to write your documents yourself and hire a proofreader. Cheap online proofreading services do not produce consistent quality. If you hire a writer with a background in hardware and software, you will spend more money and wait a little longer, but you will get better quality service and documentation.<br>
<br>
<a href="http://www.epictrends.com/resources/technical-writing/hiringtechnicalwriter.shtml">Outsourcing your documentation</a><p><div class="blogdisclaim"><a href="http://www.epictrends.com//usability-technical-writing-copywriting-multimedia/200505.shtml#0504">This post originally appeared on an external website</a></div>

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Find data faster with tagging

by beckylash In reply to Ace your user assistance ...

Weary of looking for obscure notes, ideas, or email? Tired of looking for photos on your hard drive?<br>
<br>
Find out the solution that all the digerati are dying for . . . <br>
<br>
<a href="http://www.cnn.com/2005/TECH/internet/05/03/social.tagging.ap/index.html">Tagging helps unclutter data</a><p><div class="blogdisclaim"><a href="http://www.epictrends.com//usability-technical-writing-copywriting-multimedia/200505.shtml#0505">This post originally appeared on an external website</a></div>

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Desperate dialog boxes

by beckylash In reply to Ace your user assistance ...

These dialog boxes will do anything to please. They compromise their identity. They flaunt their lack of usability. They do too much and go too far. The names and interfaces in this article have been changed to protect the misguided. One of the most common mistakes I see in software is a dialog box that acts like a window.<br>
<br>
<a href="http://www.epictrends.com/resources/usability/desperate-dialogs-usability.shtml">Desperate dialog boxes</a><p><div class="blogdisclaim"><a href="http://www.epictrends.com//usability-technical-writing-copywriting-multimedia/200505.shtml#0506">This post originally appeared on an external website</a></div>

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Web usability for visitors who are visually impaired

by beckylash In reply to Ace your user assistance ...

When designing your web site, don't forget the folks who use screen magnifiers. The good news is that your web site might already follow the recommendations in the following article. If not, you still get more good news: incorporating the recommendations is easy. Read this article from Trenton Moss and www.out-law.com.<br>
<br>
<a href="http://www.out-law.com/php/page.php?page_id=webaccessibilityfo1115299577&area=news">Web accessibility for screen magnifier users</a><p><div class="blogdisclaim"><a href="http://www.epictrends.com//usability-technical-writing-copywriting-multimedia/200505.shtml#0509a">This post originally appeared on an external website</a></div>

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Exclusively for you history buffs . . .

by beckylash In reply to Ace your user assistance ...

Fellow history junkies, I enjoyed this short read from Jerry Reimer at arstechnica.com: <br>
<br>
<a href="http://arstechnica.com/articles/paedia/gui.ars/1?79362">The history of the GUI</a><p><div class="blogdisclaim"><a href="http://www.epictrends.com//usability-technical-writing-copywriting-multimedia/200505.shtml#0509b">This post originally appeared on an external website</a></div>

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Whoo hoo, a fellow evangelist for consistency . . .

by beckylash In reply to Ace your user assistance ...

I love finding kindred souls on the web for my obsession, OK, addiction, for consistency. Check out the following article from Gerry Gafney at www.sitepoint.com:<br>
<br>
<a href="http://www.sitepoint.com/article/why-consistency-is-critical">Why consistency is critical</a><br><p><div class="blogdisclaim"><a href="http://www.epictrends.com//usability-technical-writing-copywriting-multimedia/200505.shtml#0509c">This post originally appeared on an external website</a></div>

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If your software customers are Asian . . .

by beckylash In reply to Ace your user assistance ...

The following article from Kathy Sierra describes why Asians and Westerners see pictures (read +user interfaces+) differently . . .<br>
<br>
<a href="http://headrush.typepad.com/creating_passionate_users/2005/05/context_matters.html">Context matters</a><p><div class="blogdisclaim"><a href="http://www.epictrends.com//usability-technical-writing-copywriting-multimedia/200505.shtml#0509d">This post originally appeared on an external website</a></div>

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New XML publishing tool for online Help, PDF files, and more . . .

by beckylash In reply to Ace your user assistance ...

Quadralay Launches WebWorks ePublisher Pro<br>
<br>
Quadralay Corporation announces the launch of WebWorks ePublisher Pro. <br>
The new desktop ePublishing software leverages XML and allows users to <br>
create customized content for the Web, intranets, professional online <br>
Help systems, portable devices, enterprise-ready XML, or PDFs. WebWorks <br>
ePublisher Pro provides greater flexibility and ease of use for Help <br>
authors, technical writers, documentation professionals, and other <br>
content providers wanting to produce content for common online formats <br>
directly from Microsoft Word or Adobe FrameMaker files. Authors can use Microsoft Word to write, maintain, <br>
and update content, then use ePublisher Pro to manage and deliver <br>
multiple online formats such as HTML, XHTML, DHTML, or the <br>
cross-browser, cross-platform information system WebWorks Help. WebWorks <br>
ePublisher Pro includes support for more than 45 languages, including <br>
out-of-the-box support for double-byte languages. WebWorks ePublisher <br>
Pro for Word ships in June 2005, and is available for purchase by <br>
authors for US$1,000, and internationally for US$1,100. WebWorks <br>
ePublisher Pro for FrameMaker ships in July 2005, and is available for <br>
purchase by authors for US$1,395, and internationally for US$1,515. <br>
<br>
<a href="http://www.webworks.com">http://www.webworks.com</a><p><div class="blogdisclaim"><a href="http://www.epictrends.com//usability-technical-writing-copywriting-multimedia/200505.shtml#0512a">This post originally appeared on an external website</a></div>

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Product that tests usability of your web site

by beckylash In reply to Ace your user assistance ...

Check out aDesigner from Alphaworks.<br>
<br>
<a href="http://www.alphaworks.ibm.com/tech/adesigner">aDesigner</a><p><div class="blogdisclaim"><a href="http://www.epictrends.com//usability-technical-writing-copywriting-multimedia/200505.shtml#0512b">This post originally appeared on an external website</a></div>

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