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Paperback Human Factors for Technical Communicators Book

ISBN: 0471035300

ISBN13: 9780471035305

Human Factors for Technical Communicators

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Format: Paperback

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Book Overview

A crash course in human factors theory and practice for technicalcommunicators If you're a technical writer, technical editor, documentationmanager, user-interface designer, usability tester, or any othertype of technical communication professional, you've probably foundyourself becoming more and more involved in the development, design, and testing of technical communication products. In orderto handle your expanded responsibilities effectively you...

Customer Reviews

4 ratings

we need more people reading stuff like this

I cannot tell you how many times, as a techwriter, and content developer, if you work on other people's stuff, edit the engineer's stuff...they think you are "Dumbing-it-down" or castrating it. They make like they are working on the Next NOBEL PRIZE, and you dare touch their stuff!! How-dare-you! How could a lowly writer understand the full glory of their verbiage? And the more obscure, passive and inpenetrable it is, the more it makes them look "more better smarter-est", the ole highschool "Baffle them with BS" ploy. If it's in pure ASCII text, even better! See, they are catering to the purest of Intelligencia...So basically, the writer gets treated like a transcriptionist, or formatter, and god help you if you try to do your job.And then the schmucks have the nerve to keep asking you back to help them, but keep undermining you. Then they wonder why nobody likes to use their application. Hmmmmm! I wonder!

Fantastic book!

This book is extremely well done, and it can be applied to much more than writing. I think that the bulk of it applies to almost any kind of design, i.e getting to know the users, their needs, abilities, experience, etc. and then involving them in the design, getting feedback, establishing a partnership, etc. It's just the kind of up from the trenches stuff that managers would be wise to listen to but very rarely do. You can definitely sense the frustration the author has in technical writers being the band-aid applied to poor product design and cost-cutting, and she offers concrete alternatives when you have limitations.I also love the recursiveness of it, in that she is writing the same thing she is also describing, so talk about reading between the lines! I could read it over and over, each time appreciating more and more how she followed her own advice.This book is what I always look for in a book, because it starts from the beginning and ends at the end, with a clear trail of how it got there. The supporting introduction, glossary, index, notes and references are very well done.

A must read for anyone that communicates online or on paper

If you do any kind of writing for your job buy this book and read it cover to cover. With that said my review follows:There are so many positives in this book that I will list the negatives first, there are few and very minor at that.The cover has got to go. It does not represent the depth and wealth of the information inside. To be honest, it looked so poorly thought out and old, I felt the contents of the book must be too. Thankfully, I dropped my bias and was very pleasantly surprized.The other negative may be my own personal preference, but I like the footnote detail at the bottom of the page, so when I see it I don't have to scoot to the end of the chapter to see what it is. This is how good the book was, I read all the footnotes and references too.Marlana Coe has created a book that I hope not only do Technical writers from all over read, but Human Factors professionals too. As a fanatic-pursuer of documentation meeting its goal to communicate, this book says it all. The usability measurement on documentation is whether or not it allows the author to communicate to the reader and Marlana Coe shows you just how to do that. In fact, she shows you while doing that herself.I bought this book because as a Human Factors professional, I find we do not practice what we preach. We review a product and come up with wonderful ideas to make it better and then proceed to hide that in a document that is not geared for the reader. Many technical reports, even the ones that only have a small group of customers, don't meet those customers needs. There are no pictures, tables and diagrams and worst of all no logical organization for the reader to create a structure around the information. The documents are geared for the writer to regurgitate data, not for the reader to absorb it. Granted this is not all, but too much of a majority in a group of people that should know better. Most human factors professional know, how to increase usability of everyone else's product but their own: the technical report they create on products they review. This book bridges that gap, for HF professionals especially. Yes, I'm including myself in this category (I did buy the book after all).For all the rest of you, this gives you reasons for all the practices that good technical writers should use. From the amount of white space to use to the number of fonts and colors. There are also suggestions on organization and on construction of these documents. One section discussed content and the importance of context of usage. This is something, I never really thought of that much. (Oops).Another thing the author has done was fashion a book on a technical subject and made it readable. This is something she also covers in her book. Her language is natural and she has not fallen into the trap of using technical words or ones that may escape the average readers vocabulary. In a word: Fantastic!

Great insite into the Reader

Coe does a great job of introducing the reader to the writer. There are so many things that we as writers don't think about, or take for granted when we write. This book really opened my eyes not only as a writer but also as a reader to the importance of understanding how people read, understand, learn, and absorb information.
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