8th International Conference on Technical Communication: Designing Experiences

Design d'expérience

Digital services transform our everyday experience, first through screens (websites, e-learning, online help, videos and social networks), and now through the physical world (voice assistants, augmented reality, blended learning). Technical communication has always had very strong ties with experience design. Now communication and design practices need to evolve to better support hybrid experiences across the digital and physical worlds.

Les projets de recherche en M2 Communication Technique Multilingue [PDF]

Marie Girard et les étudiants du M2 CTM

Assistants vocaux, comment puis-je vous aider? [PDF]

Maaike Coppens, Head UX design, M Creation, Paris

La réalité virtuelle au service de l’apprentissage [PDF]

Pierre Marole, Responsable partenariats, Digital and Human, Paris

Métadonnées : au service des expériences utilisateurs [PDF]

François Violette, Information Architect, ReachFive

Design responsable : concevoir pour l’avenir [PDF]

Aurélie Baton, UX Designer, IBM France

Que se passe-t-il lorsque vous mettez 50 rédacteurs techniques au sein d’une équipe de Design [PDF]

Sarah Baillot, SAP France

Quand les mots influencent le design et les interfaces [PDF]

Amandine Agic, Content Strategist, ACCOR

Camille Promérat, UX Writer, Freelance

Building UX As A Strategy for Growth [PDF]


Greta Goetz,PhD, Faculty of Philology, University of Belgrade

 

The added value of videos in technical writing

Claudia ANTHONYPILLAI, Laura BARIBAUD, Louise CLAUSTRAT

Paris Diderot University, July 15, 2019

Abstract

Videos play an important role in our lives, as well as in the daily lives of technical writers. Technical documentation has evolved throughout time and beyond written text, with multiple tools to choose from. This makes us wonder, to what extent is the introduction of videos in technical writing necessary?

Our research article seeks to answer this question, presenting the results of different tests and questionnaires. We will be able to determine how a user reacts to different sources of information, as well as how user experience affects the way a technical writer produces documentation.

Users have different learning styles, one can be verbal and the other visual, and a technical writer should keep that in mind when producing documents. Since everyone is different, having a video as a source helps and includes more people. However videos can be restricting depending on the situations.

Just like user needs, technical writing evolves, and so does technology. With the introduction of various forms of videos and the ability to integrate them in multiple platforms, a technical document can become more than just a traditional user guide. GIFs, chatbots and AI-powered applications are bringing new life to technical writing. Nevertheless, is video still really worth it?

Read the full article

The added value of videos in technical writing (PDF)

The use of colors in technical writing

Cristiane FREITAS, Viviana MACALUSO

Paris University, July 2019

Abstract

We come from different cultural and educational backgrounds and decided to analyze and focus on how colors may influence readability and, therefore, comprehension on technical documentation.
This matter came after we browsed a website from a marketplace corporation and we noticed that there was a lack of harmony and synchronicity between its marketing and documentation website. We noticed it mainly because the visual identity, particularly the use of colors and icons, was absolutely discordant. It was remarkable that the two websites were developed by different teams, what could eventually reveal an internal noise in communication, or even some problem in the enterprise architecture.
A simple misuse of colors can reveal much more than aesthetics, design or layout. And this seemed quite impressive to us. The color approach however can be very large, with multi-disciplinary, underestimated, usually treated randomly and not too scientific under the gaze of the academic community. We want to show that it can be theory-based and, by means of a user test, we intend to prove – practically – that colors should be treated with the importance they deserve, far beyond aesthetics and layout.
After applying a user test, we noticed that users react differently face to face with a colored and a black and white document.

Read the full article

The use of colors in technical writing (PDF)

Augmented and Virtual Reality: Towards the Enhancement of User Experience

Marie Fabre, Samia Rhaliès, Florian Peeter

Université de Paris, July 2019

Abstract

Our world is increasingly virtual. Digitalization has been taking over every industry during the last few decades, and user experience and assistance is no exception. Reality and the virtual world were divided by a gap that seemed unbridgeable until recently. Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) allow users to go beyond previous limitations. Users can learn and practice without being held back by the limitations of the real world.

AR and VR are not brand-new inventions. The praise they received the last few years is related to recent technical innovations such as advances in computational power, storage, graphics, and high-definition displays. These progresses opened the way to immersive technologies that were previously burdened with wires, heavy headsets, and poor graphics. Today, light, wireless hardware, and beautiful graphics immerse the user in a virtual world better than before. But innovation won’t stop there, as it is expected that $20,4 billion will be invested in AR and VR, an 68% increase 68% compared to the $12,1 billion spent in 2018. This growing interest for AR and VR is shared by a wide range of industries such as engineering, medicine, and even softwares.

Each finds its own in immersive reality. How do companies use AR and VR? To what extent do they enhance the User Experience? Are they the future of the user assistance, or just trendy gadgets?

After considering what are AR and VR and their usages, we will discuss their influence on User Experience (UX), their values, and what their future may be in the technical communication industry.

Read the full article

Augmented and virtual reality: Towards the enhancement of user experience (PDF)

How shifting to a more modern documentation process helps meet user needs

ANDRIAMANANTSOA Ornella, BENZAAMA Loubna, LEONARD Lucie, RESPLENDINO Emmanuelle

Université Paris Diderot – Paris 7, July 2018

Abstract

Digitalization and technological innovations are exerting considerable impact today on technical documentation. In addition, we are seeing more and more collaboration between technical writers and software developers, which naturally is leading to a synchronous code and documentation production evolution.
The research offered herein is based on literature, key articles, survey reports, interviews with documentation and product managers from medium to large French software companies, and analysis of various documentation production process. The results highlight the importance given to documentation and its scope towards users.
To meet the needs of the industry, historical formats such as wikis and PDFs are changing to web-based and embedded formats, which are more accessible, visual, and user-centric. This change not only affects outputs, but also production processes through the merging the product code and documentation delivery. Nonetheless, such innovation is costly and bears limits. Are such technological exploits as smart assistants and virtual reality going to perform well enough to meet users’ demands and needs in terms of documentation?

Read the full article (PDF):

Technical communication: a two-sided coin?

Koussai HOUSSINE, Laetitia NALY, Axel PETIT
Paris Diderot University, July 2017

Abstract

Technical communicators like to perceive themselves as go-betweens who use language to bring tech objects closer to the general public. Still, is technical communication (abbr. TC throughout the article) really a two-sided coin that bridges the gap between the humanities and science, the “two cultures” in Charles Percy Snow’s terms?
The aim of this paper is twofold: testing the assumption that makes technical communicators middlemen between the two cultures, and to do so, defining the features of the language of TC by general linguistic standards. A sharp analysis of the language of technical communication provides many interesting clues to define its identity.
First, a short history of technical communication since World War II helps us understand how the language of technical communication changed with economic, social and political contexts. Second, we sketch a definition of human language in order to set an accurate theoretical frame and to define the features of the language of technical communication. Third, the discussion of a series of tests completes the qualitative analyses of the first two parts. It provides evidence to support the conclusion of this paper.

Read the full article: Technical communication: a two-sided coin?

Compelling documentation: a way to improve the user experience?

Laure Bach-Barast – Laetitia Bossu – Justine Gaucherand- Sarah Lasaracina
Paris Diderot University, 2017, July 31

Abstract

Most people do not read user guides on their own initiative. When they do, it is often because they have no choice, or when they encounter a problem and need a solution. According to the general public composed of a representative sample of 105 people surveyed for our research purpose, guides are deemed plain, unattractive and people usually feel compelled to read them. Indeed, reading user manuals require a certain effort that people are not always ready or willing to make. Hence, they already have a somewhat biased view of the guide even before opening it. Thus, it might be interesting to wonder if a compelling documentation can improve user experience. User Experience implies not only the use of the product, but also the quality of documentation, if it answers questions and solves potential problems in the best, quickest, and most fluent way. User Experience is a cause-and-effect relationship between documentation and the product: the better the information, the better the use will be. However, is it possible to make documentation more compelling in the first place? How can technical writers alleviate the global reluctance to user guides? This paper provides possible solutions in order to make user manuals more compelling to users.

Read the full article (PDF): Compelling documentation: a way to improve the user experience?

Should companies combine marketing and technical content to adapt to the shift in UX expectations?

Saran Kante, Clémence Bolinga, Dina Radaoarisoa
July 2017

Abstract

Companies put customers’ needs at the center of their strategy to build a relation of trust and increase customer’s loyalty to their products. In their effort, companies become more and more prone to offer customers a linear experience from the moment they are attracted by the perspective of buying a product or service (marketing) up to after their buying act when they start using the product or service (technical communication). The quality of both marketing and technical content is crucial.
We wanted to have an insight of what experts of technical communication and marketing think of a possibility for these two services to collaborate. In order to get this information
we interviewed professionals from these two fields, we attended conferences and seminars on the subject of combining technical content with marketing content to unify customer experience.
Companies undertaking such a change should thoroughly study the transition process, the product and the profit.
One of the challenges a company would face is how to make two services that are used to working separately pool their skills to achieve a common goal which is to provide their users a high quality service. The credibility customers grant to a company depends on it.
Because the two services use their own terminology to achieve their respective goals, they would need to reach an agreement on the terms they are both going to use to produce their content.

Read the full article (PDF): Should companies combine marketing and technical content to adapt to the shift in UX expectations?

CDMM Research: A seminar with Ray Gallon and Andy McDonald

Ray Gallon and Andy McDonald are leading professors and experts, with multiple-decade experience in the fields of technical communication and information. In 2016, they joined forces to create a consortium, aiming to promote “information 4.0”, a reading grid to the accelerating evolution of information.

Students of CDMM Master 2 have been familiarized with Ray and Andy’s presentations at Paris’ 2017 Documation Data Intelligence Forum, and they met again on May 31st, to discuss information 4.0 and elaborate around it, in the context of their technical communication, information architecture and content management program.

CDMM: What is information 4.0?

Ray Gallon and Andy McDonald: Our research revolves around the general theoretical question of the role of information in the context of technological progress.

On a practical level, information 4.0 aims at ensuring we take this evolution into account.

In other words, it provides help to anticipate the evolution of the technical communication industry, and it outlines reasons why this industry needs to evolve.

For example, software developers think around functions or groups of functions, while users are concerned only with the tasks they have to carry out. The role of technical communicators can therefore be broadly described as translating an approach by function into a logic of tasks: it is obviously much wider than designing user manuals.

Information 4.0 also takes into account and capitalizes on the rapid growth of chatbots, augmented reality (AR) devices and applications, the Internet of things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI).

Is AI truly intelligent?

As of today, even the most powerful AI, such as the ones that beat chess or go masters, only simulate intelligence: they do not begin to approach consciousness, which is a prerequisite to “human-style” intelligence.

Current AI can accumulate data and use it in the most relevant way, in relation to a particular task or series of tasks, however complex, but they cannot learn: they are not able to perform a task they have not been designed to perform, nor to take initiative outside of their functional envelopes.

However, AI is already very useful, notably to carry out repetitive actions, better than humans – for a cost that is quickly soaring.

What are the risks of AI?

The main risk of AI is for humans to give up control over tedious and recurring tasks, without a possibility to go back – just because we might soon forget how to perform them. In general terms, AI obviously raises numerous governance, interoperability, and ethical issues. To maintain control over AI, its very concept and the questions it poses must be well understood, and the aim of each AI solution has to be precisely defined. For example, don’t pretend you are trying to build an intelligent city if what you are actually working on is a bandwidth wide enough to accommodate three interoperating networks…

How do you see technical writing evolving?

It is evolving quickly and deeply, around the issues we have already been talking about, which will become ever more present.

The emergence of the agile method of code maintenance is a good example of ongoing changes: pseudo-real time adaptation is an actual goal for many companies. Information is becoming obsolete much faster already, which emphasizes the need for contextualization and interactivity, notably with regards to the development of IoT and machine-to-machine communication.

In the span of five to ten years, from writing instructions, procedures or manuals, the role of the technical writer will continue to evolve towards information retrieval, sorting, filtering and distribution, in relevance to the needs of the target audience. As very important vectors of information, you need to embrace this evolution to prepare for it.

You have been stressing the need for information contextualization. Can you elaborate on this?

Context is key, indeed. Information is only valid in a certain context, and contexts change in an increasingly fast manner. Hence, in some companies, personas are designed, only to be used for a single hour. Other contexts are already tracked and even materialized by RFID beacons, which directly link information to its potential user; the aim is to offer information, rather than deliver it.

Imagine you are in Cairo. Your need for information will change considerably, depending on the fact you are a tourist, a local, or an Egyptologist. Ideally, offered contextualized information addresses your specific needs – which raise the issue of context granularity, a whole other challenge in itself.

In that respect, adopting the molecular information approach we are advocating with our information 4.0 logic can be helpful.

What is molecular information?

We believe breaking down information into molecules facilitates information reuse.

Molecules of information are autonomous, self-sufficient, fundamental blocks of content. In that logic, the sense and nature of a document depends on the way its information molecules are assembled.

However, just like in the field of chemistry, in that of information, mixing molecules can carry surprising outcomes. It can even be dangerous. That is why information molecules need to be precisely organized, defined, and tagged to ensure their sensible use and to avoid meaningless or erroneous documentation.

Bearing this paramount rule in mind, information molecules can prove a powerful tool in tackling the issues of contextualization and context granularity. Molecules can indeed be used in a great variety of contexts, providing they are governed by a clear and precise editorial policy.

As a summary, what is your vision of the current work of a corporate information specialist?

In a context where, as we saw, the value of information becomes increasingly doubtful, an information specialist’s main task is definitely to maintain and increase the value of the company’s information base.

Information is, indeed, one of the most precious intangible assets of any company. It needs to be retrievable, organized and up to date.

Information specialists therefore have to force their way into scrum and marketing meetings, for example: wherever they are located in the organization chart, they literally stand at the center of any firm that values its history, its products and services, and its customers.

Finally, information specialists need to adapt to the idea of a world where, in the foreseeable future, software will be able to read users’ facial expressions, and to respond to them.

What is the role of technical writers in fostering accessibility?

Victoria Genin, MarcAlexandre Jacques, Tiphaine Monange

Paris Diderot University, July 1st 2016

Abstract

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.

Read the full article (PDF): What is the role of technical writers in fostering accessibility?

The impact of the digital enterprise on technical communication

Sarah Consentino, Paul Desreux, Alexandre Dias Da Silva, Vincent Perrot

Paris Diderot University, July 2016

Abstract

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.

Read the full article (PDF): The impact of the digital enterprise on technical communication

Controversy mapping, 3D animation, gaming: New media to transform education and cognitive experience

Sandrine Guillaume, Samar Mansour, Mathilde Rémignon

July 2014

Abstract

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.

Read the full article (PDF): Controversy mapping, 3D animation, gaming: New media to transform education and cognitive experience

SMEs and technical writers: a win-win relationship

Manon Chaix, Caroline Halap, Aurélie Jugie

July 2014

Abstract

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.

Read the full article (PDF): SMEs and technical writers: a win-win relationship

Tools and methods to achieve consistency in technical documentation

Fanny Bischoff, Emeline Picart, Carlie Rames

July 2014

Abstract

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.

Read the full article (PDF): Tools and methods to achieve consistency in technical documentation