Transitioning from Technical Communicator to User Experience Professional


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Gives motivations and reasons to move from technical communication to user experience, plus job description comparisons, how to reposition yourself, and resources for more information.

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  • Purpose: To share my experiences with others looking to expand or change their careers. Content: Definitions, How I did it, Comparing Job Posting similarities and differences, Looking at resumes, Info Interviews, where to do research Audience: Junior technical writers and “newbies” looking to explore the field as well as intermediate technical writers looking to expand their career possibilities. Senior communicators looking for more info…? Housekeeping: Any questions, please ask. Posting the slides and notes. Boxes and Arrows article. Disclaimer: There are a lot of careers that tech writers can expand into and I’ve chosen the aspects I’m most interested, but if you want to do something else, look into it, ask me, ask friends.
  • Transitioning from Technical Communicator to User Experience Professional

    1. 1. Transitioning Your Career From Technical Writer to Technical Communicator Theresa Putkey Key Pointe Technical Communication Information Architecture
    2. 2. Defining it <ul><li>Technical Writer </li></ul><ul><li>Stereotypical image is someone who sits at a desk, writes up procedures, introductions, documents software, errors and all. Groans about software errors but documents them anyway. </li></ul>Interaction Designer With respect to information, someone who figures how to display information so people can interact with it, find it, search it, use it. Instructional Designer eLearning Content Management Single sourcing Training Programmer Manager Indexer Technology Guru Technical Communicator Someone whose main role is technical documentation but who also behaves as a user advocate: correcting problems, suggesting redesigns, gathering business rules and requirements, handling large amounts of information Information Architect: “ Experiential problem definition and solving with a healthy dose of empathy” Jess McMullen; An information strategist figuring out how to best organize information in complex systems
    3. 3. Motivation <ul><li>You can either choose to be the stereotypical technical writer, “Have baggage, will travel” or you can break out of this mould and expand your sphere of influence and understanding. </li></ul>
    4. 4. Motivation <ul><li>To stay employable, you must keep up with fast moving ideas, technology, workplaces. </li></ul>
    5. 5. Do informational interviews Take a class, network, moonlight Get your foot in the door Get a mentor Build relationships Just do it Ask and don’t take NO for an answer How to DO these things
    6. 6. Resumes <ul><li>Chronological </li></ul><ul><li>Functional </li></ul><ul><li>Consultant </li></ul>
    7. 7. Resources <ul><li>Using Technical Communication Skills in User Experience (me!) </li></ul><ul><li>A “Way Last Resort”? By Molly Malsam </li></ul><ul><li>What's to Become of the Tech Pubs…? by Bob Boiko (STC members only) </li></ul><ul><li>The Top 10 Mistakes People Make When Looking for Work by Jack Molisani </li></ul><ul><li>Technical Communication February 2007 </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>Find examples of people in your field that you admire and find out more about them </li></ul>
    8. 8. Job Descriptions: Parallels and Differences
    9. 9. Parallel <ul><li>User Experience Engineer: </li></ul><ul><li>Your passion about customer experience will provide an excellent foundation for this position. </li></ul><ul><li>Be a strong and vocal user advocate </li></ul><ul><li>Work effectively in cross-functional projects that may span across divisions </li></ul><ul><li>Tech Comm Responses </li></ul><ul><li>?? </li></ul><ul><li>?? </li></ul><ul><li>?? </li></ul>
    10. 10. Difference <ul><li>User Experience Engineer: </li></ul><ul><li>Variety of methodologies including usability lab studies, site visits, rapid/iterative testing, focus groups, surveys </li></ul><ul><li>Gaining Experience : </li></ul><ul><li>Ask your UX person to take you along for a lab study, site visit, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Take part in some QA rapid or iterative testing, then apply it to UI design testing (worth a try) </li></ul><ul><li>Apparently surveys are an art form of their own. </li></ul><ul><li>Focus groups are apparently overrated and expensive to arrange </li></ul>
    11. 11. Parallel <ul><li>Web User Experience Analyst </li></ul><ul><li>The Analyst is integral in helping the team concept, scope, and document effective, innovative and usable Internet solutions. </li></ul><ul><li>Diagram navigation flows; research competitors; and document business, functional, and technical requirements </li></ul><ul><li>Tech Comm Responses </li></ul><ul><li>? </li></ul><ul><li>? </li></ul>
    12. 12. Difference <ul><li>Web User Experience Analyst: </li></ul><ul><li>Facilitate workshops with the client </li></ul><ul><li>Educates internal and external clients in all matters related to user-centered design </li></ul><ul><li>Gaining Experience: </li></ul><ul><li>Tag along with a manager or sales person, or facilitate your own (internal) workshop. Put together a training session on something. </li></ul><ul><li>You’ve certainly educated internal clients. External? Take a public speaking course, get people to give you objections and try to give great, non-defensive responses. </li></ul>
    13. 13. Parallel <ul><li>Information Architect </li></ul><ul><li>Collaborate with instructional and graphic designers, authors, technical writers and project managers </li></ul><ul><li>Analyze and design content for ease of use and reuse; Create information models, including systems for structuring metadata, to enable reuse strategies </li></ul><ul><li>Tech Comm Responses </li></ul><ul><li>? </li></ul><ul><li>? </li></ul>
    14. 14. Difference <ul><li>Information Architect: </li></ul><ul><li>Work with customers to help determine their business needs and develop information strategies that meet the needs of the business, their customers, and employees. </li></ul><ul><li>Gaining Experience: </li></ul><ul><li>Can you do this at your current company? If not, is there a really bad website you can revamp, using the public (your friends) as customers? </li></ul>
    15. 15. Parallel <ul><li>Information Architect </li></ul><ul><li>Demonstrated ability to structure content in large information sets. </li></ul><ul><li>Formal training in Needs Analysis, Task Analysis, Instructional Design, Information Design, User Interface, or equivalent experience. </li></ul><ul><li>Working knowledge of Content Management tools and technologies, XML, DITA, and structured authoring. </li></ul><ul><li>Tech Comm Responses </li></ul><ul><li>? </li></ul><ul><li>? </li></ul><ul><li>? </li></ul>
    16. 16. Difference <ul><li>Information Architect: </li></ul><ul><li>Design an Information Architecture approach and make recommendations for tool and interface requirements for client project </li></ul><ul><li>Gaining Experience: </li></ul><ul><li>Go through an IA process on your own (content inventory, analysis, card sort). </li></ul><ul><li>Get comfortable with different technologies. </li></ul><ul><li>You’ve done this as a tech communicator, you just need to expand. </li></ul>