Subject: Survey
From: "M. David Orr" <whitears -at- INTERACCESS -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 8 Aug 1997 09:55:18 -0500

Jack Bonney posted the results of a survey on technical writing
practices. My consulting company works with hundreds of corporations and
technical writers. Most of them use some sort of standards for
documents. I think the survey results must have come from a
self-selction process--i.e., writers who favor complete writer autonomy
chose to express their opinions, others didn't.

At our company we center the "creativity" in coming up with standards
that are flexible enough to meet a variety of situations. We involve all
our writers in developing the standards so that everyone's creativity
gets its day. We also maintain a dialog about standards and add to or
modify them as new ideas arise of technology changes. There is change,
but within a system that everybody contributes to.

We also have our who process (methodology) for producing documents
documented in our own procedure manual. We do usability testing on new
design features. (People's creative opinions are often dead wrong when
subjected to testing. A usability test is the graveyard of cherished

Even with standards there is a great deal of lattitude in
implementation. The content design is totally controlled by the writer.
M. David Orr
Orr & Associates/Usability Management
7366 N. Lincoln Ave Suite 101
Lincolnwood, IL 60646
Phone: 847-677-1920
Fax: 847-677-7878
Email: whitears -at- orrnet -dot- com

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