Re: Technical writing, usability, GUI design, and how they fit together - your opinion is needed

Subject: Re: Technical writing, usability, GUI design, and how they fit together - your opinion is needed
From: Gregory P Sweet <gps03 -at- health -dot- state -dot- ny -dot- us>
To: Robert Fekete <fekete77 -dot- robert -at- gmail -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 21 Mar 2012 12:13:08 -0400


Hi Robert,

You raise a lot of good questions, here are some answers.

1. My team is responsible for all usability review of our products, up to
and including conducting formalized usability studies, or recommending when
we should contract for usability experts.
reviewing GUI and recommending changes, maintaining and managing changes to
the master style sheets (CSS, all our stuff is web-based), creating any
technical materials needed (user & developer), and creating and delivering
any training on our products.

The best most frequent argument we make regarding why our team should be
doing usability review is that you don't hire a chef to paint your house,
that is, you wouldn't hire a highly specialized individual to perform tasks
they do not specialize in. Each tasks requires specialized knowledge and
should be handled by the person or people who possess that knowledge. It
helps that we have the credentials to back that up, and enough formal
studies under our belts now to show which interfaces users prefer.

2. Depends on who is doing the coding. We're a large state government
agency with many development groups, contractors,etc. all using the same
portal to present our apps to the users. My group handles the portal and
some core apps, so we get to oversee those. With other dev groups we cannot
get much beyond enforcing use of the master style sheets.

3. Final word always goes to the application owner (project sponsor). We
provide the advice they need to weight it against all other factors and
decide what to do.

4. Not a chance. Most people in state government are doing several jobs
each these days doing their best to fill any knowledge gaps as they go.

5. See #2.

6. See #2. We've gotten to a point where they developers are asking for
mockups before they begin work on our core apps/portal but with those not
in our bureau, we don't see it until it goes live, if ever.

Cheers!

-Greg

techwr-l-bounces+gps03=health -dot- state -dot- ny -dot- us -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com wrote on
03/21/2012 11:20:26 AM:

> From: Robert Fekete <fekete77 -dot- robert -at- gmail -dot- com>
> To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
> Date: 03/21/2012 11:20 AM
> Subject: Technical writing, usability, GUI design, and how they fit
> together - your opinion is needed
> Sent by: techwr-l-bounces+gps03=health -dot- state -dot- ny -dot- us -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
>
> Dear Wise Ones,
>
> At the company I work at - mostly a techwriter - I ran into a
> difficult situation, and would greatly appreciate your collective
> input and experience on it.
>
> Currently, GUI design is mostly left to our developers, who usually
> come up with less than usable interfaces, probably because they are
> programmers and think like programmers, ignoring the users' point of
> view. My fellow techwriter and me keep complaining about the sloppy
> interface designs and usability, but can't really get our message
> across: the interface should be designed by someone thinking as a
> user, and working closely with the techwriters to make the GUI labels
> understandable. (Correcting interface texts is important because the
> English skills of our developers leave room for improvement (mine as
> well, but that's a different problem ).)
>
> So, what is your experience?
>
> As technical writers, what is your relationship to product usability
> and GUI/interface design?
> Which group/department is involved in UI design/usability at your
company?
> Who has the final word about the design (including GUI texts)?
> Is there a dedicated UI designer / usability expert for each product?
> How much control (language, and so on) do you (or someone else) have
> over the plans / mockups?
> At which point of the design do you review the interface, if ever?
>
> We plan to use your answers to show "how other companies are doing it".
>
> Thank you very for your help in advance.
>
> Kind Regards,
>
> Robert

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Technical writing, usability, GUI design, and how they fit together - your opinion is needed: From: Robert Fekete

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