Posts Tagged ‘User Experience’

Top 50 Blogs and Feeds for Technical Communicators

February 15, 2011

Both my career and personal life is undergoing many dramatic changes. So I was not able to update anything over here after Jan 14th. On a pleasant surprise, I got an email from indoition.com stating that my blog too listed in the elite list. I am giving the URL so that  it will be easy to catchup other useful technical communication blogs. *ahem my blog  comes as forth from the top (of course there is no particular numbered list, number matters you know 🙂 )

Here we go:

Top 50 blogs and feeds

User Assistance

October 4, 2010

One fine day I logged on to my payroll information site to check some information. I have to select a Date using a Calendar function. For example if I wanted to select 28th October 2010, I need to click several times to get the corresponding month and the date as 28th displayed on the screen.

Here is the catch. I am using Internet Explorer 7.0 version. That website has some script error resulting Calendar function didn’t pop-up. So I was clueless how to enter or select the date. Without selecting the date, I can’t process my request.

I called my colleague to get some idea on that. Yes, my assumption is correct; he too came across the same error. And the solution that he gave was too funny. “Close the session and log-on after an hour”.  🙂

Why can’t I directly type-in the date that I wish to..?

Enter Date:  __________  (in DD/mm/yy format for ex: 31/03/10)

See the above example; I have a User Assistance on the screen itself. Do I need a calendar function here..? I don’t think so.

Note: By the way after an hour, I was able to enter the date and processed my request.  🙂

Gazopa – Upload images and search similar images

August 31, 2010

Let us assume you want to know the birth place of Tom Cruise. What you will do..? You will Google it and explore those information related pages. This is the normal way of using Google – using key words for information searching.

Now let us assume you have a picture of an unknown person and you are interested in knowing his/her name and other details. How will you use Google..? I have thought of suggesting Google to do some research on this area.

Now let us assume you got an image, say a Close button and you would like to see a similar image of bigger/smaller size without using keyword search. That is rather than using “Close Button small in size” keywords in the Google search tab, you would upload the reference image and view similar images – big or small, red or blue. How does it sound..?

Yes, it is possible.  

  1. Go to http://gazopa.com
  2. Click the Upload tab and browse the image from your system and hit the Enter button in your keyboard (by the way, there is no Submit button for this purpose, just saying).

You will see a lot of pages with similar images of your reference image. But this technique doesn’t works out for human faces (or at least in my case). 🙂

Also you can give an image URL to search for similar images  or

If you are good at drawing, test your hands by drawing an image and upload to see similar images.

I think it will be quite useful for graphic/UI designers and lone technical authors who are jack of all trades (but master of none like me). 🙂

Customer Feedback

August 5, 2010

 

Getting customers’ feedback is inevitable for any business. When it comes to documentation, majority of the clients (readers) are reluctant to give their feedback.  

Is that help system sounds jejune for them..? Are they really accessing it..?

Any Tech author will be curious to hear about his help system, Is that useful to the clients? Does the client get the answer for their queries..? Which page or topic is accessed by the people more frequently?  And so on.

One quick way to get the user access statistics is embedding a piece of HTML or JavaScript code in your site. Many online statistical tools are available like http://sitemeter.com or http://histats.com.

But if you want to get the feedback in a professional way, you can create a user feedback form or if you have RoboHelp Office Pro, you can use the logging and tracking feature – says Neil Perlin in his article on RoboHelp in the adobe.com.

He further adds that RoboHelp Office Pro has set of reports in seven categories of information:

  • Unanswered Questions: Questions that users’ type but to which they don’t find an answer.
  • Frequently Asked Questions: Questions that users ask most often about.
  • Areas Requiring Help: Areas that user ask questions about most often.
  • Frequently Viewed Content: Topics that users view most often.
  • Usage Statistics: Information about when users access the material. This might indicate a need for more server capacity in response to user complaints about slow access at 9 AM, for example.
  • Question Trends: The number of answered versus unanswered questions over time.
  • Errors: Various help system errors.

Quite interesting. By the way, recently I included “Rate this” widget in the site, just curious to hear from you.  🙂

Customer Experience Management (CEM)

July 29, 2010

 Scenario:

U.S.airways came across a unique problem. Though many of their customers logged in their site, checked for flights, fare etc didn’t proceed to book their tickets. In short, there is a huge dip in U.S.airways business. Web Metrics results were quite interesting.

Many of their customers entered the flight numbers wrongly, so the site was unable to process their request. Annoyed customers changed their mind and as a result no business for U.S.airways.

When they corrected this error (?), (maybe an auto-popup flight number field instead of a text box), U.S.airways found almost 100 percent rise in their business.

So unless you don’t know how your clients use your website, you can’t say that whatever you have developed is user-friendly. The feature which sounds simple for you may be annoying for the clients.

This is referred as Customer Experience Management (CEM). There are many vendors deploy CEM for their clients (of course not in free of cost).

I am planning to explore the web metrics and post few more in this space.

Present yourself with the Prezi

July 20, 2010

Are you

  • bored with static (with limited animated) Presentations..?
  • looking for some innovative techniques to present in a better way..?
  • interested in keeping your audience awake rather than snoozing during your presentation..?

If your answer is YES, then I would strongly recommend you to create an account for yourself with www.prezi.com

1)  Sign up with www.prezi.com and go through few basic lessons on how to create a prezi.

2)  Give a try by creating your own prezi (of course, with a lot of trial and errors).

3) If you really liked it and most importantly if you have a budget, go ahead with a licensed one. No, no, I am not paid by the Prezi to endorse their product.  🙂

Check out this video for knowing the Prezi in a nutshell. 

Note: Very soon, I will create one Prezi and upload in this space.

Dr.Explain

April 6, 2010

Sound knowledge in Help authoring tools is always on demand among technical writing industry. Dr.Explain is a Help authoring tool in the market. On March 30 2010, Dr.Explain team has released a version with new enhanced features.

Good news is that Dr.Explain team provides free copies to Technical authors, Site owners who are interested in writing a review on their product. Anything free is always welcome among people (esp for me) 🙂

Just now I received my license key. I am very eager to install Dr.Explain in my laptop and test my hands with this tool. Very soon I will update this post with my User Experience review on Dr.Explain.

Thanks to Tom Johnson to share this info in his space.

Anthropomorphism

March 9, 2010

 

No, I am not going to write about a zoology subject where my post heading may sound like that. When I checked with the WordWeb, anthropomorphism means the representation of objects (especially a god) as having human form or traits. To be more precise, anthropomorphism is attributing human characteristics or behavior to things that are not human.

Generally, technical writers have a great temptation to anthropomorphize to make difficult material easier for the reader to relate to.

An example:

If you click the Save As button, the database will store your data in the specified format.

This is fine. Some level of anthropomorphizing is acceptable. But let us consider the below phrase:

 If you click the Save As button, the database will behave as you requested.

This is a bit over-dosage of anthropomorphism.  🙂

Let us see one more example:

Correct Usage:

The speech recognition software accepts only the following words.

Incorrect Usage:

The speech recognition software is interested only in the following words.

When I came across Microsoft Style guide (MSTP), it says,

Sometimes the user interface or application programming interface of a feature is anthropomorphic. In dealing with wizards, assistants, guides, and other characters built into a program, you must let your professional judgment guide you in deciding how much the documentation should reinforce the anthropomorphism of the feature. But do not use words or phrases that convey intention or desire (such as refuses or wants or is interested in), intellect (thinks, knows, realizes), or emotion (likes).

Also, MSTP lists out some words to watch out for anthropomorphism. Here we go:

The following words may be acceptable in the right context, but they often signal inappropriate anthropomorphism. Some are appropriate only for programmers or information technology professionals. This list is not exhaustive. When in doubt, check your project style sheet.

  • answer
  • demand
  • realize
  • think
  • assume
  • interested in
  • recognize
  • understand
  • aware
  • know
  • refuse
  • want
  • behave
  • like
  • remember
  • decide
  • own
  • see

I believe now you have learned what anthropomorphism is and it’s spelling too (just like me)  🙂


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