Re: Job Titles for TechComm People

Subject: Re: Job Titles for TechComm People
From: "McKenna, Colleen" <cmckenna -at- SPSS -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 13 Feb 1998 16:24:05 -0600

Sorry if this is a bit late; I'm on the digest. I feel compelled to
respond to Andrew's post. While I agree that "Usability Specialist" is
not a thoroughly descriptive job title for a technical communicator (it
merely scratches the surface of what we do!), it is certainly an
everyday part of my job.

My training as a technical communicator included courses in human
factors/ergonomics and how to design and implement usability testing. I
believe that my job is definitely to be an advocate for users. I help
them use the software effectively. Yes, I write documentation, but
documenting a procedure is often an excellent way to discover ways to
improve it. How many times have you written a procedure and said "Hey,
why can't they combine steps A, B, and C into one step? Sure would be a
lot easier to use!" When I see a bad design or an issue that could be
improved by applying some basic usability principles, I never hesitate
to speak up. If there isn't time or inclination to implement my
suggestions, so be it. At least I tried. No one has ever "bitch-smacked"
me for speaking up. (Does anyone else take offense to that term?)

Anyways, technical communicators often design and implement help systems
and other types of software.
We usability test our documentation as well as our products, of which
documentation is an integral part. Frankly, I think usability testing is
a integral part of our profession. If you're not doing it, you probably
should be.

Colleen McKenna
Publications Department
SPSS, Inc.

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