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INDEX vs. SEARCH

April 21, 2016

Here it is….the heavyweight match! I’ve also thrown in the concordance for good measure.

So the story goes….an analysis of various tools reveal potential successes in findability. The more complex the technical documentation, the more accuracy and timing factor into content retrieval events.

table_search-vs-index_v2-2

This pretty much sums it up. More examples will follow soon.

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

Document Usability, Pt. 6: INDEXES

October 14, 2015
A portion of the index in the 2013 Master Plan for the East Bay Regional Parks District

A portion of the index for the 2013 Master Plan (East Bay Regional Parks District)

This post follows the ongoing discussion on usability solutions for planning, government and business documentation.

In the last post on usability, Usability Pt. 5: GLOSSARIES, we continued our discussion of solutions to enhance and maximize the usability of documentation in government and business.

From an overall standpoint, I believe one of the primary goals in government documentation involves looking at new and innovative ways to improve usability and the user experience, and some of those ways involve adding usability features to the documents.

Now, in this 6th installment on INDEXES, we move onto the fun part. (and my favorite!)

The power of the index

Most readers are familiar with indexes, but unaware of Read more…

Our ongoing Usability discussion continues with the “Solution Series”

September 28, 2015
finger-pointing-image

This is a navigation post for the ongoing discussion on usability, and the bearing it has on documentation in government and business.

The discussion began with Document Usability, Pt 1: An Introduction for Government & Business, and continued with Document Usability, Pt. 2: What Exactly is “Usability?” to help break things down and give it clearer definition. Then Document Usability, Pt. 3: Identifying the Challenges for Government & Business discussed the challenges and problems with documentation that are pandemic in business and government today.

The part of the series that begins finding solutions has begun, beginning with Document Usability, Pt. 4: ABSTRACTS. The next posts are Document Usability, Pt. 5: GLOSSARIES, then Document Usability, Pt. 6: INDEXES and finally Document Usability, Pt. 7: CASE STUDIES as the latest discussions. In the coming weeks a couple more usability features will be discussed.

My intention is to focus on town planning — not only because it represents my background and subject specialty — but in my experience I’ve found these hard working players in local government dealing with a wide array of in-house documents on a consistent basis. In most cases their days, workweeks and careers are essentially defined and guided by the content that lies within.

We’re recapping this series on usability with documentation in this short post so you can navigate to any part of the discussion at any time….if you find yourself deep in the weeds of the blog you can always hit the banner for The Commuter, which will bring you back to this headlining post.

If you opt-in as a subscriber, you will receive these new posts as they’re hot off the press!

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

Paul Sweum, the Principal, Town Planner & Technical Writer for Top Hat Word & Index, provides over two decades of professional technical communications and writing experience, of which his subject focus involves a career as an urban planning professional. He served mainly small communities and towns where he worked up from a planning intern to that of staff planner, then to a community development director in the states of Arizona and Washington. He spearheaded numerous projects including authoring and editing a wide variety of planning documents.

These technical communications were not only designed to reflect the vision of communities, but served as consensus-building tools to inform citizens, developers, public officials, decision-makers, and agencies at various levels of government. By coaching these various stakeholders, Paul helped to empower communities as they shaped the planning visions of their future.

Feel free to drop Paul an email at Paul@TopHatWordandIndex.com if you have anything on your mind you wish to discuss. Paul works as a usability specialist for town planning, government and business documentation, in addition to indexing for nonfiction books and technical documents. With his eclectic background and experience, he’s often called into planning departments to help in a variety of ways; whether it’s with in-house documentation, pinch-hitting to resolve a backlog of projects, file systems assistance, or other types of advisement.

Document Usability, Pt. 7: CASE STUDIES

February 22, 2016
Case Study words stamped in red ink on a manila file folder to illustrate a good example or best practice to explore, read or study

This post follows the ongoing discussion on usability solutions for planning, government and business documentation.

Happy 2016! In the last post on usability before the holidays, Usability Pt. 6: INDEXES, we continued our discussion of solutions to enhance and maximize the usability of documentation in government and business.

From an overall standpoint, I believe one of the primary goals in government documentation involves looking at new and innovative ways to improve usability and the user experience, and some of those ways involve adding usability features to the documents.

So, the usability engine keeps on rollin’ into the new year…..and in this 7th installment on CASE STUDIES, we move into the sort of usability feature that has started catching on in the last decade in technical documentation, however I believe its importance is typically overlooked.

Making it real

Case studies break down complex concepts into real-world examples in an effort to Read more…

A Folk Hero and a Conductor: Finally Meeting #10

November 18, 2015
Zorn1

Jim Zorn has been a household name wherever I’ve lived since I was about the age of eight or nine.

For those of you who don’t follow football or the NFL, Zorn was the first quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks franchise, and emerged as such in its first training camp in the summer of 1976….a unique left-handed quarterback with a funny last name….and I can relate, because I happen to also be a lefty with a funny last name.

But I’m not a professional football player, in case you were wondering. I write indexes for technical documents….although I did play lacrosse for a very brief time in college.

Anyhow, those who were following the Hawks at the time knew him as the front end of a dynamic passing combination with wide receiver Steve Largent, and together they formed one of the most formidable passing duos in the latter 70s NFL over a span of four or five years.

I’m going to discuss Zorn’s football days with the team, and then morph things to the more personal side of this story….and finally meeting with this guy and our exchange.

In those fledgling days of the team, “Zorn to Largent” became a Read more…

Document Usability, Pt. 5: GLOSSARIES

October 5, 2015
glossary-image1

This post follows the ongoing discussion on usability solutions for planning, government and business documentation.

An examination of solutions began last week in Document Usability, Pt. 4 when we discussed abstracts. To access all the components of this usability discussion, go to the navigation post on the series. As the “Solution Series” rolls out over a span of a few weeks, there is coverage for Read more…

Document Usability, Pt. 4: ABSTRACTS

September 27, 2015
document-image1

With the ongoing discussion on usability, we left off with Document Usability, Pt. 3 in the last segment.

In that post, various challenges and trappings for government and business documentation were identified….so let’s identify some solutions with Abstracts. As the “Solution Series” rolls out over the next few weeks, I’ll cover each usability feature that plays a critical role in easing the navigability of complex documentation for an audience, whether they’re laying eyes on it for the first time or a regular user.

From an overall standpoint, I believe one of the primary goals in government documentation involves looking at new and innovative ways to improve Read more…

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