RE: Information Mapping (Kinda long)

Subject: RE: Information Mapping (Kinda long)
From: "Hodge, Lisa" <LHodge -at- NaviSite -dot- com>
To: "'Hart, Geoff'" <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>, TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 29 Jun 2000 08:55:05 -0400

Funny this topic has come up...I'm working on my first InfoMapped document
as we speak.

A little history about my knowledge of IM. I saw a presentation many moons
ago. I was interested in the human factors side of the business (people
retain info in "chunks" of 5 +/- 2 items, etc.) At this time, I was writing
really detailed user materials with lots of graphics required (screen shots,
keypresses for a telecom interface), and I didn't really buy into the look
and feel of the IM template for my audience (consumer voice mail).

Also, I understand your comment about IM being too "evangelical". In fact,
as a hiring manager, I was even wary of resumes that detailed a lot of info
mapping work...I thought they would try to brainwash me or that they
wouldn't be happy with our substandard (in their eyes) way of doing things.
(Disclaimer: Yes, I actually did hire an IM-certified writer who didn't
brainwash me, to the best of my knowledge).

Fast forward to the past few months...I am now managing a group of writers
for an infrastructure company. My audience is comprised of 150+ support
people in multiple locations, and it is growing at a rate of 30% each
quarter. We mostly write process- and procedural-type documents (and IM
differentiates clearly between the two). One of the directors in the
operations group heard about IM, so they came in, did their dog-and-pony
show, and got a P.O. to help us get started.

The six writers (all seasoned professionals) in the company attended some IM
training a few weeks ago. The methodology is based on a lot of common sense
that, in my opinion, good writers should already be using. However, common
sense is not always common practice. Yes, a lot of what they said was Tech
Writing 101. But we also walked away with some great new tactics for
presenting information of different types.

The bottom line...we spent a lot of money kicking off this project, we got a
refresher course in basic tech writing (ho hum) and some really useful info
for helping our audience find information quicker (very important in our
environment). The most important advice (as usual): KNOW THY AUDIENCE! So
far, ours is very impressed with the results. Now, we're just trying to
figure out how quickly we can map some legacy stuff so we don't have to pay
IM's consulting fees to get it done!


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