TechWhirler Recap for September 9

This week’s update is supported by Platinum sponsor Adobe & RoboHelp 9 |

(Standing in for Al Martine this week is TechWhirler and resident cat herder, Connie Giordano. So fair warning, this recap is probably not as funny as usual).


cat herdingWe have this way of tying our projects to the monthly themes we focus on on the website. Sometimes it’s on purpose, sometime it’s purely coincidental. We’ll let you guess which one the go-live of 3.0 represents.

September focuses on “A User’s Experience in Design” and what could be more appropriate than starting off with a shiny new website, that we think is an improved user experience? We eliminated the Google Adwords, stopped the flashing ads, started optimizing for SEO, and chose a theme and a platform that presents well on large and small screens. All worthwhile design changes. As a result, it benchmarks at 62% faster than the average website (woo hoo!), and should be easier to share with your friends. We also wanted to improve how we promote our writers (a round of applause for the Special Writers Unit), and now you can search archives of their work, and even see what they look like.

We’ve got some interesting UX related topics coming up this month, so you need to stick around if you like, want or do usability- and user experience-related stuff. In the meantime, check out what’s there and feel free to comment, like, or follow. Geoff Hart gives us Part 2 of Personas and the 5Ws, and look for a really interesting piece from Ryan Minaker about making the UI childishly easy to use. You know, as easy as herding cats.

By the way, we’re still trying to find an event calendar that displays time zones of the events and works with WordPress. We’re not sure why that little usability detail keeps escaping developers, but if you know of one, feel free to pass it along.


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What You’re Talking About

Quick shout outs to our Tech Writers and their discussions in our email discussion group:

  • Erica Yanovich has a multi-faceted dilemma regarding “real books” that her organization’s chief scientist wants to produce. Word or TeX and why would the chief scientist want to spend time setting styles and doing formatting? A lively discussion regarding Word’s ability to do advanced publication-ready formatting, versus TeX’s native functionality designed for it.
  • Donna McManus was actually asking for opinions on “Using the conjunction OR in mutually exclusive options,” and of course TechWhirlers happily and profusely obliged with opinions and ideas to provide clarity when users can take different options to produce the desired result.
  • Julie Stickler is waiting with bated breath for the next edition of the Microsoft Manual of Style for answers to her question on “Standards – cloud computing.” Elizabeth Whitmire of Microsoft gave us a sneak peak answer from the 4th edition: “We standardized on lowercase, no hyphen: cloud computing.”


In Case You Missed it: This Week @ TechWhirl

· New: “Personas and the five W’s: Developing Content that Meets Reader Needs, Pt. 1” by Geoff Hart |

· Classic: from “Adaptive Technologies for the Visually Impaired: The Role of Technical Communicators” by Eric and Deb Ray |

· Poll question: Do you enjoy collaboration or working alone |


Upcoming Articles

· New: “Book Review – Wikis: Grow Your Own for Fun and Profit” by Tony Chung

· New: ““Personas and the five W’s: Developing Content that Meets Reader Needs, Pt. 2” by Geoff Hart

· Poll Question: Do you play a role in your organization’s product/user experience design process?



We want to send a very special “thank you” to our sponsors. They make this experience unique and user-friendly.

Platinum A: Adobe

Platinum B: Madcap, ComponentOne

Gold: Society for Technical Communication (STC), EC Software , Vancouver Island University


> Cat herders (don’t) have all the fun.

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