Megan CASEY, Marielle PESCHET, Anaïs TANZÉ
Paris Cité University, July 15, 2022
As technology evolves, so does technical writing. New media is used to
convey information more efficiently and yet, technical documentation is not
always very clear. As technical writers, we have general knowledge on what
structures are expected to be the easiest to recognize and follow. We want
our documentation to be read and understood and with that in mind, we are
constantly searching for the best layout to contain our pieces of information.
These elements tie in to cognitive psychology and more specifically visual
perception. But do technical writers study cognitive psychology? And if they
do, do they apply its principles in their work?
This research article examines the relationship between technical writers
and visual perception principles of cognitive psychology.
With the use of a survey and a practical test on applied knowledge of
Gestalt principles, this study analyzes and assesses whether or not technical
writers have studied visual perception and if so, what differences there are in
identifying the principles of visual perception between technical writers who
have studied visual perception and those that have not.
The results gathered show that most technical writers have no knowledge
of visual perception principles. Nonetheless it does not prevent them from
being able to recognize when an element of a layout needs improvement for
clarity, legibility, understanding and overall ease of use. They are able to
justify their answers almost as well as trained technical writers.
Read the full article in PDF: Technical Writers and Visual Perception