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Document Usability, Pt. 3: Identifying the challenges for government & business

November 25, 2013

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In the last post on Document Usability, Part II of this discussion, we broke things down to examine the definition of usability. Hopefully that shed more light in understanding its applicability in the world of documentation.

Specifically, in the world of government documents — while effective usability has the potential to appear in many types of forms and functions — at the end of the day it still provides the singular purpose of helping users access and absorb information in less time.

The primary purpose of government documentation is to serve the many users and stakeholders of those documents, with the public being the primary stakeholders (oh, and speaking of which — there’s the analysis of “documents” versus “documentation” — but I’ll spare you the pain today). Certainly staff, elected officials, and other interest groups use and interact with government documents. However, it’s the public who bankroll the creation of these documents, so it seems only appropriate that a wide net be cast to accommodate the makeup of that audience.

There’s a number of challenges in this. Read more…

My Conversation with Graham Nash

November 24, 2013

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Graham Nash made an appearance at the Experience Music Project (EMP) in Seattle on Friday of this weekend, Nov. 22. The subject was his new memoir, Wild Tales: A Rock & Roll Life, released earlier this year.

A Q&A interview went on for about 45 minutes before things turned to the audience for a few questions. Throughout the segment he spoke of his humble upbringing in the post-war UK, early musical influences such as The Everly Brothers, the years as a member of The Hollies, and of course the formation of CSN with newly available musicians from other bands that had dissolved at the time; David Crosby (from The Byrds) and Steven Stills (from Buffalo Springfield).

There was some discussion of the music scene in Laurel Canyon near Los Angeles in the early 70s, and what was going on with other musicians in the community such as Read more…

Document Usability, Pt. 1: An introduction for government & business

November 11, 2013

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Through more than a decade in town planning, I always tried to figure out ways to make a planner’s day easier. Let’s face it. Government documents can be cumbersome beasts to work with, and that’s not the fault of policy planners, consultants, or writers as much as the highly technical nature of the content and the edict of state mandates in document structure.

This is 110% an issue of usability. Most folks would rather spend an afternoon with a dentist’s drill in their mouth than interface with government documents. Zoning codes, comprehensive plans, capital facilities plans and the like can make a staff member’s head spin as much as the citizen who comes into city hall with an inquiry.

I’ve written about usability in government and business documentation in previous posts. Read more…

Document Usability, Pt. 2: What exactly is “Usability?”

November 24, 2013

Usability is like oxygen. You don’t notice it until its missing. –Unknown

Courtesy of Wordle.net

Courtesy of Wordle.net

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So….try to contain your excitement on this topic, if you can. :)

However, if you’re here reading, and a government official such as a planner or a business professional, it’s worth your time to review this before further examination of your in-house functions and needs with your documentation.

What exactly do we mean by “usability” in documentation? Perhaps you haven’t put much thought into it, but as a technical writer and usability specialist, that’s part of my job.

First, let’s take a step back by looking at the definition of usability. Read more…

“Your 21st Century Marketing Strategy” comes to the ASI Rocky Mountain chapter this Oct. 26

October 2, 2013

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Repeating from earlier this year at ASI’s national conference in San Antonio, Paul’s marketing workshop will be featured at ASI’s Rocky Mountain chapter annual meeting on Sat. October 26.

The workshop, “Your 21st Century Marketing Strategy,” expands on the San Antonio event last April, which developed from a presentation Paul co-hosted with Steven Ingle of WordCo at the same industry conference in San Diego in 2012. While Paul and Steven focused on how to develop client relationships, Paul expanded the focus to include planning and preparation in marketing through a three hour workshop. Read more…

Chicago expansion!

October 1, 2013

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I know your first thought. That’s not it. The Windy City hasn’t added another pro hockey franchise with a secret agenda of dividing the Blackhawks faithful.

The company has just opened a Chicago area branch! A presence here is a perfect fit for the company.

First off, the history of urban planning in Chicago is unrivaled in the country. The 1892/93 World’s Fair launched the City Beautiful Movement, which many would argue rests as the golden age in urban planning. The 1909 Plan of Chicago, written by architect Daniel Burnham, was also the first of its kind. Today, the American Planning Association (APA) has its national headquarters in the city, and also houses the Planners Press.

There’s some big publishing muscle in the town. Prominent publishers such as the University of Chicago Press are here, along with a plethora of technical writing and editing talent….and that doesn’t start into the numerous small presses, book packagers, and general writing and authoring brain power that can be found in the Chicago area.

The new branch is near the historic college town of Naperville, just west of the city. Contact information for our new Chicago area branch may be found on theĀ contact page of Top Hat Word & Index.

Check it out, it's the Top Hat Indexer's top hat!

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“Your 21st Century Marketing Strategy” at ASI San Antonio in April 2013

January 28, 2013
Paul Sweum has been part of ASI's marketing team for its national conference since 2010, and blogs about the conferences

Paul Sweum has been part of ASI’s marketing team for its national conference since Minneapolis in 2010, and also blogs about the conferences

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This April 20, at the annual conference for the American Society for Indexing in San Antonio, Texas, Paul will be conducting a comprehensive three-hour marketing workshop for attendees.

The 2013 ASI conference spans April 17-20 at Hotel Contessa, located on San Antonio’s historic river walk.

The workshop, “Your 21st Century Marketing Strategy,” expands on a presentation Paul co-hosted with Steven Ingle of WordCo at the same industry conference in San Diego in 2012. While Paul and Steven focused on how to develop client relationships, Paul is expanding the focus to include planning and preparation in marketing through a three hour workshop.

Read more…

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