Networking evening at Traffic Jam and Snug

by Alison Philips

February 17, 2015

Six of us braved the elements last week to gather for an informal evening of food, drinks, and conversation at Traffic Jam and Snug in midtown Detroit. We welcomed a couple of new faces, talked about current techcomm opportunities in the greater Detroit area, and returning members took the opportunity to catch up after the holidays.

Our goal for the evening was to discuss one (or more) of the free STC webinars suggested in January. Although some of us had technical difficulties accessing the webinars, Mary Jo David provided a very thorough write-up on Essential User Experience Skills for Technical Communicators (available on this blog), and Mark Lockwood led a discussion of one of the webinars he viewed, Sketching User Experiences with the Design Studio Method. Mark described several themes of the webinar, including the idea of sketching multiple solutions to business problems, and how this specific methodology can help work groups create innovative document design solutions. The idea of “saturating your design space” with many possible solutions and coming together to mash-up the possibilities was a thread we discussed as a group.

It was an enjoyable, relaxed evening and we hope you’ll join us for the next one! See the Upcoming Events area for info on what we have planned this spring!

Review of Essential User Experience Skills Presented at the 2010 Summit by Will Sansbury, Rachel Peters, and Yina Li

(Reviewed by Mary Jo David, February 2015)

Will Sansbury, Rachel Peters, and Yina Li based their presentation on a workshop they put together for members of the Atlanta chapter of STC. A team of chapter members was interested in redesigning the Atlanta chapter’s website, thus the need for the workshop. The Atlanta chapter website being used at that time was designed in approximately 1994.

The presentation overviews three essential user experience skills: card sorting, heuristic evaluation, and usability testing. Although the main focus of the presentation was how to put these skills into practice designing a website, references were also made to the importance of these same skills for designing user guides and online help as well. (more…)

“And Now for Something Completely Different!”

…well, not completely, but a little different for us. After our program postponement due to weather in November and our holiday mixer with area usability folks in December, we will resume our chapter programs and networking in February. To prepare, we’d like those who can to view any of the following STC webinars in the comfort of their home or office. Then join us to discuss these and meet others at the February networking event. Check our calendar for the date, time and location.

The free webinars are only accessible to STC members, and we welcome members and nonmembers alike to attend our programs. So, between now and our February program, we’d like to encourage members to post webinar summaries on this blog so they’ll be viewable by all who want to join us in February.

The webinars can be accessed here. They include:

  • 10 Most Common Misconceptions About User Experience Design, presented by Whitney Hess
  • Sketching User Experiences with the Design Studio Method, presented by Brian Sullivan
  • Essential UX Skills for Technical Communicators, presented by Will Sansbury, Rachel Peters, Yina Li
  • From TechComm to UX: Are You a Designer, presented by Kristi Leach

 

Holiday Mixer

Michigan CHI, Southeastern Michigan STC, and Michigan UxPA invite you a casual Holiday Mixer.

When: Tuesday December 2nd, Anytime between 5-8pm
Where: Conor O’Neill’s Irish Pub
318 South Main St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
(734.665.2968734.665.2968)
www.conoroneills.com

To make this fun and interesting, consider:

– Wearing a UX or Tec-Doc or Conference shirt
– Bringing a Great Success and a Horrible Failure story that happened to you this year…relevant to your profession

We will not have a reserved room or purchased food.
We will just meet in the bar, take over tables as needed, and buy our own (and if you like) each other’s food and drink.

Event recap: World Usability day in the “D”

by Alison Phillips

Gathering to network before the event starts.

Gathering to network before the event starts.

World Usability Day (WUD), held annually on the second Thursday of November, is a “single day of events occurring around the world that brings together communities of professional, industrial, educational, citizen, and government groups for our common objective: to ensure that the services and products important to life are easier to access and simpler to use” (according to worldusabilityday.org).  This year, there were over 130 events held in 40 countries, and 6 of those events were hosted in locations across Michigan.

The WUD Detroit event, World Usability day in the “D,” was a held at the AIREA Studio in the Compuware building. About 40 participants from various disciplines (including some STC-SM chapter members) gathered to discuss topics related to this year’s theme, “User Experience, Usability, and the Value of Simplicity in Design.” (more…)

World Usability Day in the D

User Experience, Usability, and the Value of Simplicity in Design, is an International World Usability Day Event brought to you by the Michigan Chapter of ACM SIGCHI, Michigan Chapter of UXPA, and by us, your local STC chapter.

The Talks

  • User Experience Across Industries
  • Usability 2.0: Beyond the UX Lab
  • UX and the Auto Industry
  • The Demand for Simplicity in Design
  • The Future of UX: A Common Language Across Brands and Products

The Presenters

Come to learn, get inspired, network with colleagues, make new friends, and get fed with a UX firehose!

Register ahead for $10, or register at the door for $20.

Choosing the Right Tools to Build Digital Learning

by Susan Fisher

If you’re like many technical communicators, you may fall into one of these categories when it comes to building a mobile learning (or any e-learning) program:

1)   What’s the big deal? It’s just a matter of picking up the nearest authoring software (e.g., Articulate Storyline or Adobe Captivate) and cranking out the screens.

2)   It’s a mystery. Only a trained programmer can do it.

Of course, as with most things, reality is not that clear-cut; it’s a continuum between these two extremes. Fortunately, with some basic knowledge you can determine the tools and resources required for your project — and talk intelligently to your developer or programmer if one is needed. (more…)

Ignite UX Michigan Draws Standing-Room-Only Crowd

Five minutes, twenty auto-advancing slides, and an excited standing-room-only crowd. Are you a little crazy? Not at all. You are a presenter at Ignite UX Michigan.

On October 21, 2014, thirteen people presented their thoughts about user experience at Ignite UX Michigan at Conor O’Neill’s in Ann Arbor.

Big Ideas

We heard about some big ideas: the user interface as a magic ritual; a future with many more do-it-yourselfers who will need to know the same basic design principles we use now and who will have limited resources; embedded user research as another approach to [qualitative] research, based on a summer teaching experience with Girls Who Code; and philosophical questions: How does LATCH—Location, Alphabet, Time, Category, and Hierarchy—a way to organize information, intersect with reality? How do we make reality?

End Users

However, the majority of the rest of the talks focussed on end users in one way or another.
One person talked about some common disabilities and how to design for the using good writing and good HTML design, while another gave some quick examples of good and bad design when telling stories with data visualization.

One speaker had an epiphany on a trip to Paraguay. Speaking no Spanish, the best visual and social cues she used were nonverbal ones. Her big questions were: What would it mean to be a traveler on a website? How can we extend the nonverbal communication of login pages and search bars to other areas?

A content strategist who is the one-person UX team at her company explained how to create plausible streamlined personas even while lacking time, budget, or even users.

Academic software design was critiqued, and suggestions were made for creating smaller products grounded in learning theory for the primary end users, teachers and students.

Business

There were also business-focussed talks. One speaker talked about how to have jobs come to you. A visual designer explained how UX people can work effectively with visual designers.

Another speaker talked about applying user experience to project management: What if, instead of having processes and procedures coming from the top down, workers became participants in creating their work environment?

The last presentation was a cautionary tale of a website project that got too focussed on implementation instead of goals. That speaker reminded us to solve the right problem at the right level for the right reason.

The program ended with a raffle: nine books and six posters, contributed by sponsors, were given away. Many people lingered to talk afterwards. The presentations were very stimulating, and many of the slides themselves were both interesting and well designed.

Looking Ahead: World Usability Day in the “D”

Whether you are conscious of it or not, successful technical communication always involves creating a good user experience. Your will have a chance to learn more about user experience on November 13, 2014, World Usability Day.

STC New England chapter is now accepting entries…

The STC New England chapter is now accepting entries for their 2014 technical communication competition! Anyone is welcome to submit an entry; STC membership is not a requirement.

The deadline for entries is October 3rd.

For more information, visit the STC New England chapter’s website. Feel free to contact Emily Alfson with any questions at emalfson@gmail.com or contact the competition committee directly at competitions@stcnewengland.org.

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