Re: Can a Technical Writer be a Web Designer

Subject: Re: Can a Technical Writer be a Web Designer
From: edunn -at- transport -dot- bombardier -dot- com
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Date: Tue, 15 Feb 2000 09:15:09 -0500

Anthony Markatos wrote:

"The primary skills required to create highly usable documentation are the same
irregardless <sic> of whether the deliver vehicle is paper or the web."

The statements of others putting the emphasis on graphics and programming for
web development seem to underline on of the webs problems right now. Much of the
"content" is no more informative than a good comic book or glossy photo

To expand the print world analogy, it is true for many magazines that the
importance is on layout and graphics. Yet for many others (newspapers as well as
news, trade, and information magazines) a lot of the value of the material is
the quality of reporting and writing.

With the current trend of every device with a screen gaining web access, I'd
have to venture the emphasis on good content/information becomes even greater.
Not much use for a graphics artist or Java programmer for a 3x5 inch gray scale
screen. As more people turn to their Palm/WinCE or cell phone for information,
there will be a greater demand for good content. Devoid of the eye candy that
makes downloading a web page containing two lines of useful information
painfully slow even at cable modem speeds.

Go have a look at your local magazine reseller and take a look at all the
various styles of publication. Everything from fluff, fashion, and photo glossy
magazines with virtually no text, to the two dozen virtually photo free daily
newspapers. Try and tell us there is no need for good writing and communication
skills to produce all that. The same goes for web pages.

I would even venture to say that the problem with much of what is on the web is
that it is done backwards. With the designers and programmers being viewed as
"top of the ladder". If your goal is to present information or a message, the
message or information must be first and foremost. Layout, graphics, and
publishing all come afterwards.

Eric Dunn

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