Re: Information design vs technical writing vs instructional design

Subject: Re: Information design vs technical writing vs instructional design
From: Audrey Choden <AChoden -at- COMPUSERVE -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 21 Dec 1998 10:35:54 -0500

Paul Anderson <indus -at- CANUCK -dot- COM> inquired:

>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
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:<

Having responded to your other message and after reading this one,
I think it's the old turf war scenario: documentation vs. training. You
both teams to agree on the same methodology for structuring information,
possibly information design. This is a daunting task!

>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

While this approach may seem logical, I think what you're dealing with
here is an organizational issue. Research may not be the answer,
especially if your intended audience has a "not invented here" mindset.
What works in one company may be entirely unsuitable for another.
I've seen companies create models, style manuals and templates for
design teams to follow, but the output still ends up looking different.

Back to the turf war. The real answer lies in how the team is organized.
Role conflicts need to be resolved before any design models can be
implemented. Management needs to clearly define roles and responsibilities,
even with cross functional teams.

Audrey Choden
Training by Design
5011 West 66th Street
Prairie Village, KS 66208
(Kansas City)

(913) 432-7414
fax: (913) 432-8744
achoden -at- compuserve -dot- com

"Custom course development"
"Search and retrieval of business and
technical course content"

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