Designing technical documentation for tablets


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With more and more people using tablets for reading technical documentation, this webinar looks at how this trend will affect the way technical documents are designed and developed. We'll look at examples of documents that 'work' on a tablet, as well as documents that don't. We'll explore some of the emerging design trends for presenting technical documentation on tablets, and what they mean for Technical Writers. We'll also investigate how tablets, and the technologies contained within then, could be used to improve the User Assistance we provide to our readers.

Ellis is Director and Help Strategist at Cherryleaf, a technical writing services and training company based near London, in the United Kingdom. He has over fifteen years’ experience working in the field of documentation, has a BA in Business Studies, and is an Associate of the Institution of Engineering and Technology. Ranked the most influential blogger on technical communication in Europe, Ellis is also an author and editor of two books: ‘How to Write Instructions’ and ‘Trends in Technical Communication’.

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Designing technical documentation for tablets

  1. 1. Designing technical documentation for tablets Ellis Pratt | Director | Twitter @ellispratt | | ellis@cherryleaf.comMaxwell Hoffmann | Adobe Product Evangelist | Twitter @maxwellhoffmann |© 2012 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. Adobe Confidential.
  2. 2. About Adobe  Founded in December 1982  74 Offices in 43 Countries  $4.2 billion in revenue in FY2011  Corporate Headquarters in San Jose, California  More than 10,000 employees  Adobe donates a minimum of 1% of net income to philanthropy We simplify complicated, inefficient, and expensive workflows. We enable more engaging, compelling content. We drive greater return from digital media and marketing investments.© 2012 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. 2
  3. 3. About Maxwell HoffmannMaxwell Hoffmann Product Evangelist, Tech Comm Suite Former Product Manager and Sales Training Director for Frame Technology 15 years in translation industry, working on “whatever documents walked through the door” Trained over 1,200 people in hands-on, scalable publishing solutions© 2012 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. Adobe Confidential. 3
  4. 4. About our Guest Thought LeaderEllis Pratt Director and co-owner of Cherryleaf Based close to London’s Heathrow Airport Working in Technical Communications since circa 1996(!)© 2012 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. Adobe Confidential. 4
  5. 5. Designing technical documentation for tablets Adobe Webinar Ellis Pratt Cherryleaf
  6. 6. What we’ll cover1. About me2. What makes tablet devices different?3, 4 & 5. Three uses of tablets, from atechcomms view6. A SIMPLES strategy
  7. 7. 1. About me
  8. 8. Director of CherryleafUK technical writing servicescompanyMy experience is of technicalcommunication in: • UK and Europe • IT & medical equipment QuickTime™ and a decompressor are needed to see this picture.Workshops on writing for Web-based apps, iPads & DITA
  9. 9. 2. What makes tablet devices different?
  10. 10. What we’ll coverThe competitorsWhy are tablets popular?We need to abandon some assumptions
  11. 11. The competitors
  12. 12. Why a tablet?Intuitive to use (almost)Long battery lifePortabilityBring Your Own DeviceRetina screenWeightAlways on
  13. 13. We need to abandon some assumptions
  14. 14. The screen“Retina” displaysGreater contrast on screensCloser to paper than ascreenTablet screen sizes candiffer
  15. 15. Abandoning Assumptions“The TOC must be onthe left”“Scrolling vertically isbetter” Michael Campbell
  16. 16. Abandoning Assumptions“ As designers, we tend to think that people start atthe top left and just move left to right and down thepage.But research shows that isn’t what happens.People are attracted primarily to contrast, which isone of the key visual principles that has been studiedby researchers again and again.Contrast is created by differences in light and dark,thick and thin, big and small.For example, headings that are bolder than the text, Karen Schriverpictures that are big in relation to small pictures. ”
  17. 17. Can we use printcomposition theories? Kress and Van Leeuven
  18. 18. We can do things differentlySome print compositiontechniques now work onscreenWe can use a horizontal,paper metaphorRight-sided navigation isnow possible
  19. 19. We can do things differently“Deep learning” onscreen is now possible
  20. 20. It’s hapticDevice can vibrateDevice can be aware of user’slocationYou can pinch and zoom toview some content
  21. 21. Three uses of tablets,from a techcomms viewMobile appsMobile webMobile documents
  22. 22. 3.Mobile apps
  23. 23. Smaller, more focused appsOften familiar to userTouch terminology“First user” Help
  24. 24. App abandonmentMany used only 3-4timesHelp moves to theproduct descriptionFirst user interactionHelp
  25. 25. Limited traditional online HelpLeave the app to read HelpLimited help “tools”Advice from AppleNo settled standards
  26. 26. We need Help, but not as we know itFlow-based UserAssistance
  27. 27. Flow-based User AssistanceDon’t break the user’sflowGuide and pre-empt= Help is embedded inthe product
  28. 28. Flow-based User AssistanceAssistance is providedin contextIt’s aware of the user’ssituationCan advise on a goodchoice
  29. 29. Apple’s Help patentApril 2012
  30. 30. Apple’s Help “templates” Carousel view Shake to change 3D Zoetrope
  31. 31. Gallery of Help
  32. 32. 4. Mobile Web
  33. 33. Web-based appsUsually requires aconnection to the internetCan look like an app onthe desktopOr accessed via thebrowser
  34. 34. Web-based appsYou’ll still have: • Retina screen • Portrait and landscape mode • Touch and haptic interactions when HTML5 is adopted
  35. 35. Web-based appsYou don’t need to learnObjective C
  36. 36. So is there Help in Web-based apps? There is lots of Help,(under different names) It is embedded in the applications H/T Briana Wherry, Alfresco
  37. 37. Social HelpThere is a socialelement • Co coaching • Social proof H/T Brian Wherry & Robert Cialdini
  38. 38. 5. Mobile documents
  39. 39. Types of mobile documentsElectronic Flight BagStudent text booksMagazinesOperations manuals
  40. 40. Two competing modelsFormat and content Publishing are inseparableFormat and content Technicalare separate issues Publications
  41. 41. 2 competing models “We’re about to usher in a golden age of PDFs on the iPad.” Paul Ford @fttrain via Karen McGrane
  42. 42. PDFs work wellRead in Adobe ReaderiBooks, etcCan pinch and zoomLarge file size?
  43. 43. EPUBFormatting can be an issueTablesImagesVideos must be .mp4 (mv4) format
  44. 44. EPUB in the future?Embedded fontsCSS3Nested tablesBoxed elementsSVG graphicsText popupsFixed layouts
  45. 45. HTML5You can save pages offlinein theory
  46. 46. What about mediums for structured content? HTML5 may be your best bet
  47. 47. 6. A SIMPLES strategy
  48. 48. A SIMPLES strategyScaleable (to different sizes)Intuitive to the userMobile-friendlyPlatform-agnosticLegalese (right for the platform)Engaging (to the user)Single sourced (re-usable,extensible content) H/T Keren Okman, SAP
  49. 49. Summary
  50. 50. Plus ça change(plus cest la même chose)?User Assistance will still be there, but indifferent placesWe’ll need to deliver content on differentdevices, in different formatsWe’ll be using some new (old) designmetaphorsHelp Authoring tools and HTML5 will solve alot of the problems we see today
  51. 51. Blatant plugsQ4 Workshops on writing for Web-based apps,iPads & DITAFree monthly
  52. 52. For more information
  53. 53. Questions?
  54. 54. End(c) Cherryleaf 2012
  55. 55. Upcoming Adobe TechComm Webinars  Content Scenarios for Exploring New Information Products, Joe Gollner, 27 June  Find Out How to Write XSLT Statements for XML to XML Transformations in a 5-part eSeminars Series, 28 June to 19 July, Tom Aldous  Expand Your Content Reuse Potential through Indirect Addressing: Using @keys-based Referencing in DITA 1.2 – Nancy Harrison, 11 July  Are You Tempted to Use a Template to Expedite Policies & Procedure Development? Raymond Urgo – 12 July  Are you struggling to create long, complex documents with Microsoft Word? There is a much easier way! – Tom Aldous, 13 July  Part II: Creating an Accessible Layout – Tips to make documents more accessible (structure, colors, fonts, more) – Char James-Tanney, 17 July,  Part III: Developing Accessible Content – Tips on grammar, paragraph, and sentence length, alternate text, and more – Char James-Tanney, 31 July Calendar of upcoming eSeminars:© 2012 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. 55
  56. 56. Questions and Answers© 2012 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. 56
  57. 57. Contact Information Information Ellis Pratt Blog Cherryleaf Twitter Email Web Maxwell Hoffmann Blog Adobe Systems, Inc. Blog Product Evangelist Twitter Email n mhoffma Web LinkedIn Facebook maxwell.hoffmann1 Facebook As Adobe Technical Communication Professionals Group Calendar of upcoming eSeminars: Previously recorded eSeminars:© 2012 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. Adobe Confidential. 57