Information design vs technical writing vs instructional design

Subject: Information design vs technical writing vs instructional design
From: Paul Anderson <indus -at- CANUCK -dot- COM>
Date: Sat, 19 Dec 1998 10:54:45 -0700

I'm consulting for the instructional design department of a large
company. In a related posting, I've asked you about teaming
instructional designers and technical writers. I'd also like to make the
point (to the client -- authoritatively) that though instructional
designers and technical writers structure information for a living, this
does not make them or us document / message / information designers by
definition.

One of the problems I've encountered is to present (or even
conceptualize) in any consistent way how the following specialists all
take a different approach to structuring information:

* layout artists for book-length documents
* layout artists for short, layout-intensive documents such as
posters
* technical illustrators
* technical writers
* instructional designers

Currently, many of the instructional designers

* are not adequately communicating their specs (presuming them, I
presume, to be self evident)
* are not sufficiently open to taking input from these other
disciplines (leading to the occasional -- though surprisingly rare
-- dog's breakfast of trapped white space, chart junk and
kidnap-note typography)

One of my recommendations is that we conduct a fast and loose
'DACUM-style' occupational analysis of competencies for a
cross-functional design team. In advance of such a session, I'd like to
gather enough research to make a compelling case for engaging in the
exercise.

Any great resources out there? Flow charts, job aids, hand-off
checklists, concept maps?

yours, and doubly grateful in advance,

Paul Anderson
indus -at- canuck -dot- com

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