From a technical writer to a usability engineer

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a comparison of jobs of a technical writer and a usability engineer with a roadmap to transition.

a comparison of jobs of a technical writer and a usability engineer with a roadmap to transition.

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  • 1. From a Technical Writer to a Usability Engineer Presented by / Bogo Vatovec Change Management / Knowledge Engineering / User Experience / Interaction Design / Process Engineering
  • 2. Why do you want to do it?
    • Because you are frustrated?
    • Nobody listens to you?
    • Nobody takes you seriously?
    • You only get the dirty editing work from the engineers?
    • WRONG.
  • 3. Why do you want to do it?
    • Because you see a natural progression.
    • Because you are deeply interested in Human Computer Interaction.
    • Because you are passionate about your job and you are willing to spend lots of time learning.
  • 4. What are you doing now?
    • You are an advocate of the users
    • Analyze your audience
    • Analyze user goals and tasks
    • Develop a task oriented manual
    • Develop designs of manuals, online help, Web sites.
    • You are suggesting improvements to the user interface
  • 5. Why is a move common?
    • Similar goals and knowledge profiles
    • Similar believes and thinking
    • Good documentation adds to usability
    • Documentation is part of the product
    • Bad product is difficult to document
    • Text is an inseparable part of the interface
  • 6. Areas of work
    • Usability
    • User research & feedback
    • UI design and development
    • Usability evaluation
    • Usability engineering
    • Performance optimization
    • Web design and development
    • Technical writing
    • Instructional design
    • Printed documentation
    • Online documentation
    • Web design and writing
    • Editing
  • 7. Skills
    • Usability
    • Cognitive sciences
    • Interaction design
    • Visual design
    • Interviewing, observations, analysis
    • Technical writing
    • Instructional design
    • Interviewing
    • Writing and editing
    • Information design
    • Presentation media
  • 8. Backgrounds
    • Usability
    • Specialized programs
    • Psychology
    • Computer science
    • Anthropology
    • Technical writing
    • Specialized programs
    • Languages
    • Computer science
    • Variety of social studies
  • 9. Similarities and Differences
    • Usability
    • Understanding the users
    • Focus on interaction design
    • Make things easy to use
    • Design the product and the interface
    • Technical writing
    • Understanding the users
    • Focus on instructional design
    • Explain how to do
    • Support the use of the product
  • 10. Tasks of a usability engineer
    • User goals/tasks analysis and profiling
    • Competition analysis
    • Product design and interface design
    • Prototyping and evaluations
    • Acceptance testing and evaluations
    • Post release evaluations
    • Consulting and training
    • Consultancy
  • 11. Example profiles in usability
  • 12. Profile:User researcher
    • Typical background in psychology or cognitive sciences, communications.
    • Conducts observations, focus groups and surveys. Defines general user profiles, goals, needs and expectations.
    • Skills: research methods, reporting, presentation.
    Focuses on behavioral and general information about the users.
  • 13. Profile: Information architect
    • Focuses on information design and structuring.
    • Typical background in technical communications, journalism.
    • Defines content flow and structure.
    • Skills: information analysis and chunking, mental models, interaction design.
  • 14. Profile: Interface designer Focuses on the interaction design and the interface.
    • Typical background in HCI, cognitive psychology, computer sciences.
    • Defines interface interaction styles, elements, layouts.
    • Skills: interaction elements, mental models, platform specific guidelines.
  • 15. Profile: Usability evaluator
    • Focuses on evaluations of prototypes and interfaces.
    • Typical background: cognitive psychology.
    • Performes usability evaluations of the products, write reports and recommends improvements.
    • Skills: evaluating methods, report writing, presentations.
  • 16. Profile: Visual designer
    • Focuses on graphic design and icons.
    • Typical background: visual art, media and communications.
    • Design visual elements, icons and layouts.
    • Skills: graphic design, colors, human perception.
  • 17. Skills to learn
  • 18. Skills to learn (1)
    • Ergonomics and human behavior
    • Cognitive sciences, human mental models
    • User centered design process and general software development process
    • Interaction theories, principles, guidelines
    • Contextual analysis skills, usability evaluations, surveys, assessments
    • Software tools
  • 19. Skills to learn (2)
    • Direct and indirect manipulation methods
    • Menu selections, form filling, dialog boxes
    • Interaction devices
    • Presentation styles
    • Integration of UI, online help, manuals
    • Various guidelines: Windows, Motif, OS/2, Macintosh, Web
  • 20. What do you need to know about technology
    • More than a technical writer, but less than a programmer.
    • Understand the concepts behind each technology
    • Understand the behavior as related to the user interaction
    • Understand the context of use – advantages and limitations
  • 21. Steps in the Transition
    • Get yourself a mentor
    • Decide which usability area suits you the most
    • Learn the necessary skills
    • Try to apply skills in practice
    • Prepare a new resume
    • Go out and look for a new job
  • 22. Examples of tasks and process
  • 23. Learning about your users
    • Direct and indirect observations of users at workplace, home.
    • Broad surveys with questionnaires.
    • Working focus groups with users and other stakeholders.
    • Brainstorming with users and developers about user needs, design, functionality.
  • 24. Analyzing and structuring the results
    • Create user profiles/personas
    • Write scenarios of use
    • Create user/tasks matrix
    • Identify objects and actions from scenarios
    • Define behavior and attributes of the objects
  • 25. Specifying the interface
    • Write detailed use cases/user tasks instructions
    • Prepare interaction diagrams
    • Create first prototypes
    • Test prototypes with the users
    • Iteratively improve the prototypes
  • 26. Usability evaluations
    • Heuristic evaluation
    • Cognitive and pluralistic walkthroughs
    • Formal usability testing
    • Reports writing and recommendations
  • 27. Consultancy work
    • User research and behavior studies
    • External usability evaluations
    • Interface design
    • Training and courses on usability
    • Process and development consultancy
  • 28. Recommended Links HCI Resources Network www.hcirn.com Keith Intone’s collection of topics on usability www.usableweb.com IBM's Human Factors web page. www.ibm.com/ibm/hci Good list of books about usability and design with descriptions. www.hcibb.org Jakob Nielsen's web site. www.useit.com A great site that explains multiple usability methods. www.best.com/~jthom/usability Interesting site that collects information about usability and discusses the latest trends in the field. www.usabilityfirst.com Bibliography of human-computer interaction publications and resources.  www.hcibib.org Usability Professionals' Association web site. www.upassoc.org
  • 29. Recommended Books and Articles
    • Randolph G. Bias and Deborah J. Mayhew (Eds.) Cost-Justifying Usability . Boston: Academic Press, 1994. ISBN 0-12-095810-4.
    • Joseph S. Dumas and Janice C. Redish. A Practical Guide to Usability Testing . Norwood, NJ: Ablex Publishing, 1993. ISBN 0-89391-991-8.
    • JoAnn T. Hackos and Janice C. Redish. User and Task Analysis for Interface Design . New York: Wiley, 1998. ISBN 0-471-17831-4.
    • Robert R. Johnson. User-Centered Technology: A Rhetorical Theory for Computers and Other Mundane Artifacts . New York: State University of New York Press, 1998. ISBN 0-7914-3932-1 (paperback).
    • Donald A. Norman. The Psychology of Everyday Things . New York: Basic Books, 1988. ISBN 0-465-06709-3. Also published as The Design of Everyday Things, 1990, Doubleday ISBN 0-385-26774-6 (paperback).
    • Jeffrey Rubin. Handbook of Usability Testing: How to Plan, Design, and Conduct Effective Tests . New York: Wiley, 1994. ISBN 0-471-59403-2.
    • Barbara Mirel. Product, Process and Profit: The Politics of Usability in a Software Venture. ACM Journal of Computer Documentation, Volume 24, Number 4, (November 2000)
    • Ben Schneiderman. Designing the User Interface. Addison Wesley, (1998).
  • 30. Thanks! Bogo Vatovec Consulting Office Gabriel-Max-Str. 20 / 10245 Berlin T +49 30 20078666 / F +49 30 20078661 / M +49 174 1730406 office@bovacon.com / www.bovacon.com © Bogo Vatovec Consultig