Over the last few years, visual elements have grown in importance and sophistication in technical writing. According to scientific literature, the inclusion of visual elements in technical documentation has resulted in a greater accessibility. Yet, technical writers tend to use visual elements not only to present numbers and help users to understand the meaning of those numbers, but also to explain a procedure, a concept, a reference, or another topic. The impact of this trend aroused our interest for infographics. Infographics is the abbreviation for information graphics. This visual representation of information or data is used to convey information, and this information can be presented in a literal or more metaphorical way. As delivering a message in technical writing is not an easy task, implementing infographics in this context is particularly convenient. This article explores the compatibility between technical writing and infographics, and the limits of infographics implementation in technical writing. The difficulties of establishing a unique definition of infographics, and the differences between infographics and data visualization are also discussed in this article.
Victoria Genin, MarcAlexandre Jacques, Tiphaine Monange
Paris Diderot University, July 1st 2016
With the creation of international standards and the rise of public awareness, web and software accessibility have become a topical issue. Yet, it seems like accessibility is still rarely taken into account by technical companies who prefer to focus on innovation.
Part of the usability and accessibility of a software is based on its documentation. As technical writers, we wondered which role technical writers have to play in fostering accessibility.
The information used in this article was drawn from three main sources. In addition to reading articles written by accessibility researchers, we carried out two surveys to study the scope of accessibility in the creation and navigation of user interfaces: the first one was sent to disabled users and the second one to professionals. We also interviewed a highly experienced technical writer trained in accessibility. The results led us to conclude that technical writers definitely have a key role to play in fostering accessibility standards – either by increasing their cooperation with developers or by implementing accessibility solutions themselves.
Sarah Consentino, Paul Desreux, Alexandre Dias Da Silva, Vincent Perrot
Paris Diderot University, July 2016
The digital revolution has changed consumer behavior in the software industry, and digital organizations must keep up with all those changes to stay competitive. As a result, understanding customers’ needs has become part of technical communication. By compiling recent data and studies, this article aims at answering the following question: to what extent have technologies impacted the way that technical communicators assist users to offer them the best experience possible? We first analyzed how companies are starting to place more emphasis on customer experience through digital channels, and to what extent those changes have impacted the way technical communicators present the information and talk to customers. Then, we investigated and found out why technical communication is now perceived as a measurable added business value for companies.
Master 2 CDMM students have been busy identifying their core research hypothesis, and studying existing literature. They are now kickstarting the research work with interviews, experiments, and further reading.
Here are the questions that have all their attention this year:
What is the role of the technical communicator in fostering accessibility?
What is the impact of the digital enterprise on technical communication?
How can gamification improve e-learning?
Why should technical communicators use infographics?
How can technological innovation contribute to education?
What is the place of Personalized Learning Environments in the digital company?
How do norms and standards influence technical communication?
Knowledge Management (KM) is a discipline that has existed since the beginning of the nineties yet it still sometimes feels like, and is treated like, a new idea. This article explores the reasons for this current state of affairs and tries to identify the underlying cause, or causes, for its lack of support. It seems that many companies are slow to adopt systems of KM and view them with skepticism. Others dismiss them outright before even attempting them. But why are companies skeptical about KM in the first place? There must be a common reason for its failure in so many situations. These are the questions this article seeks to answer. In addition to readings from experts in the field, information for this article was drawn from the personal experiences of the authors as well as from interviews with an expert and the results of a general survey. Since there are many articles and studies on KM, we chose to focus on a few relevant articles that provided valuable and comprehensive information. Moreover, if we had had more time and resources, we could have conducted a survey on a wider panel of companies.
Alizée Caudron, Auriane Desbois, Samantha Neller, Julia Ory
This article deals with how innovation has revolutionized current teaching methods, especially from the point of view of the people creating educational content. There are three main steps to creating good training materials: targeting, designing and broadcasting. The first step, targeting, consists in analyzing the training project before its conception, by targeting the audience and preparing the content, in order to set up the best learning strategy. The second step is designing. Today’s technology gives instructional designers an array of different ways to create and present learning content. In addition to the attractiveness and the physical aspect of training materials which is now crucial, technologies such as 3D, games or Big Data also influence training designers’ work as well as learners’ opinions on learning. The final step is broadcasting. This part of the training material producing process is probably the most innovative of all. Indeed, nowadays new broadcasting methods keep appearing every single day. From Learning Management Sytems to the “Bring Your Own Device”, connected learners have a multitude of ways to access the educational material at their disposal.
Agnès Carchereux, Marion Groix, Amandine Kempf, Harriet Logan, Camille Pépin
As apprentices in the software, hardware and embedded systems industries, we wondered whether the type of product had an impact on documentation. After collecting the existing literature on the subject, we sent a questionnaire to technical writers with hands-on experience in order to learn more about their methods and skills. Their answers on the subject underlined that having direct access to the product is essential, but that the methods and skills are different depending on the type of product documented. Indeed, for security reasons, hardware industry documents contain more legal requirements than software documents and have a different documentation structure. The type of deliverables and whether the product is published online or in hardcopy depend on how the product is used on site. Terminology and syntax, the illustration workload, and project management methods are also discussed in this article.
Laure-Amélie Le Stang, Camille Riche, Alizée Rodriguez
This research article aims at studying how to create different levels of usage using structured documentation, once user profiles have been defined. From the review of different articles written by technical writing experts, to the analysis of various use cases, we will examine several solutions to document functionalities or products for a complex and diversified audience. In the first part of our paper, we will analyze existing techniques experienced in our companies, such as single sourcing and filtering metadata. In the second part, we will focus on a specific use case, and present the challenge of a company which is trying to optimize costs, improve the quality of its documentation, and at the same time, address different user expectations. In conclusion, we will see there is not one perfect solution, but some useful techniques, each adapted to a particular issue technical writers must identify before selecting the right one to fix it.
This article aims at demonstrating how new media offer different ways of learning that fully involve learners. Controversy mapping, 3D animations and gaming make learners able to better express themselves and to progress at their own pace. This new learning process involves a certain adaptability to change from learners and educators. Due to a major shift in communication, learners are willing and able to learn by themselves. We will expose the huge contrast between the traditional ways of learning and the new ways that new media bring. These new learning media help better manage information overload, improve position stand in public space, and add interactivity. Thanks to them, deep transformations are led: learners become self-learners and benefit from customized teaching enabled by bottom-up education – and therefore become more and more active in their cognitive experience.
This article demonstrates how technical writing will need to evolve to better suit the Y Generation (the “Millennials”). A brief definition of the millennial generation will be outlined, followed by a comparison of past, present, and future means of sharing information. The ultimate goal of the article is twofold. First, to present the emergence of new communication tools and digital media such as QR codes or e-learning publications, and how using the Internet is an effective means of enabling and developing collaborative communication. Second, to demonstrate how this media could be used to improve technical documentations’ user accessibility, mobility and interactivity. To conclude, we will highlight the pros and cons of these new media resources.
This paper focuses on the relationship between subject matter experts and technical writers, in the context of two software companies and an optical systems manufacturer. More specifically, this paper intends to highlight the added value of an efficient collaboration for the technical writer, the SME, and beyond, for the companies they work for as well as for the end-user of the documentation. First, we will analyze the respective education, skills, competences and work goals of SMEs and technical writers. Secondly, we will show how technical writers and SMEs work together on a daily basis and can become partners to create high quality documentation by mutualizing SMEs’ technical knowledge and technical writers’ content design skills. Finally, we will identify the benefits of a win-win relationship between SMEs and technical writers for the end-user of the documentation.
In technical documentation, content must be clear and consistent and visual layout as a whole must be uniform. Ensuring these principles makes it easier for the user to understand documentation and reinforces branding. This seems simple however achieving consistency requires a great deal of organization and effort from technical writers. The aim of this article is to present and defend various solutions for achieving consistency and improving user experience, through observations made in three different professional contexts: two computer software companies and one software and hardware company. In the first part, we will define some of the key elements that impact consistency: grammar rules, methods to address users and acute text architecture and present concrete tools and methods to improve consistency and their constraints. In the second part, we will present the most important aspect to take into account in order to find the best balance across methodologies to achieve consistency in technical documentation.
Fanny Bellaïche, Juliette Massardier and Marielle Morizot
Traditionally, technical communication leverages both technical writing and translation expertise. As both professions share some common skills and objectives, the activities of technical writers and translators are sometimes mixed up. However, they remain two clearly separated occupations and thus complement each other. Based on our working and academic experience as technical writers and translators, we are particularly aware of the importance of a balanced collaboration to align the documentation process with the requirements of today’s industry practice. Current research on the relationship between technical writers and translators mainly focuses on the study of their competences . This paper intends to go beyond the mere analysis of competences and to explore some best practices in order to bridge the gap between both professions: more specifically, to which extent can we consider the translator as a useful resource to improve the writing process? Firstly, we examine why technical writers and translators often collaborate to deliver efficient documentation in their respective fields of expertise. Secondly, we try to understand how technical writers and translators develop shared tools, such as style guides, in order to take advantage of each other’s work. Finally, we show that enhancing this relationship is not the only way to deliver professional documentation.
Lately, we witnessed the rise of new information technologies such as the tablet, the 3D and the video. These technologies quickly popularised, and today they can be found in the teaching and customer education sectors. They are used at different levels: some use them massively, whereas others are only starting to implement them. This article deals with the changes caused by the implementation of the tablet, the 3D and the video in the teaching and learning processes as well as the training materials design. In this prospect, we will focus on this phenomenon and its extent in the last decade by establishing a State of Art. We will then study the impact of the tablet, the 3D and the video through 3 case studies: new teaching practices using videos in controversy and debate at Sciences Po, the implementation of the tablet in the Customer Education Service of a company, and the integration of 3D models in digital textbooks at Dassault Systèmes.