Re: Usability Professionals and Technical Communicators

Subject: Re: Usability Professionals and Technical Communicators
From: "Bill Swallow" <techcommdood -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: Lauren <lauren -at- writeco -dot- net>
Date: Wed, 14 Nov 2007 13:33:23 -0500

Well, consider HFES (see Gene's latest post in this thread for a link)
vs. STC and ISTC. Here are their respective missions:

The Society's mission is to promote the discovery and exchange of
knowledge concerning the characteristics of human beings that are
applicable to the design of systems and devices of all kinds.

STC advances the theory and practice of technical communication across
all user abilities and media.

To set and improve standards for communication of the scientific and
technical information supporting products, services and business.

You could argue that HF (usability) is soup to nuts and that TC
(technical communication) is more specific to documentation and
communicating information. But it's deeper than that. Also from HFES:

"Ergonomics (or human factors) is the scientific discipline concerned
with the understanding of interactions among humans and other elements
of a system, and the profession that applies theory, principles, data,
and other methods to design in order to optimize human well-being and
overall system performance."

So where we split is that tech writers (generally) work to provide
optimal instruction to those using products, where usability
professionals are involved at all levels of product design,
development, and deployment to ensure the product not only does what
it should do (and does it well), but that those needing to interact
with it do so in a safe, productive manner.

On Nov 14, 2007 1:17 PM, Lauren <lauren -at- writeco -dot- net> wrote:
> It is true that usability expertise is a part of technical communication and
> that a usability professional should have writing ability. But is there is
> or is there not a difference between a technical communicator and a
> usability professional? I think that there is a difference, but those
> differences overlap each other. After following this thread, I still do not
> know the differences between the two professions, although I am convinced
> that there are two distinct professions.

Bill Swallow
HATT List Owner
WWP-Users List Owner
Senior Member STC, TechValley Chapter
STC Single-Sourcing SIG Manager

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Re: Usability Professionals and Technical Communicators: From: Bill Swallow

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