RE: Usability Professionals and Technical Communicators

Subject: RE: Usability Professionals and Technical Communicators
From: Chris Borokowski <athloi -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: techwr-l <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 14 Nov 2007 10:38:04 -0800 (PST)

Usability experts tend to be interaction designers, who are people who
come from an interface design background, which is itself a subset of
the visual design portion of industrial design. We've always had
usability experts, just sometimes they looked like Charles and Ray
Eames and didn't use computers.

Technical writers have a lot of overlap with this, but mostly because
we have to think about the same issues from the same perspective. In
addition, many technical writers have backgrounds in visual design (or
so I've found). If you are a technical writer who thinks about
interface design and has made a website or two, you have the basics of
usability under your belt.

However, as Peter Nelson pointed out, having "the basics" of something
can make someone an annoying coworker because they are detached from
the finer points of a task and understanding its background. On the
other hand, having a degree in something does not make someone an
expert worth listening to, either, and most usability experts these
days do a terrible job of it.

I don't think usability requires a special mentality or much
background. You need to understand human psychology, and be able to
think from a user perspective without creating an unrepresentative
generic user perspective. Some of the best usability professionals I
know, although not "acknowledged leaders in their field" because they
have not sought the attention, were technical writers, a project
manager, and several developers.

Specialization is for insects.

--- 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.
technical writing | consulting | development

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RE: Usability Professionals and Technical Communicators: From: Lauren

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