We’ve all read monotonous reports and struggled to remain awake during boring presentations, but must all deliverables be interminably dull? Conveying user research findings so people can understand them, believe them, and know how to act on your recommendations can be challenging. And providing enough detail without boring your audience is a difficult balance. But there are some best practices in communicating user research findings that can make them more effective—and even entertaining. Read More
When it comes to modern theater, stage directions—the descriptive text that appears within brackets in a script—are an important piece of the puzzle. They speak for the playwright when he is not there. They provide details about how the playwright has imagined the environment and atmosphere. They describe critical physical aspects of the characters and settings. Stage directions can also be critical in dictating the intended tempo and rhythm of the piece. Whether they establish a production’s overall tone or elucidate particular actions of characters, stage directions help tell the complete story that is in the playwright’s mind. Stage directions accomplish all of this, using a simple convention that structurally separates them from the actual story.
Tennessee Williams, the playwright of A Streetcar Named Desire, strives to give a play “the spirit of life” through his stage directions. Read the following snippet from the opening of Scene 1, and you’ll find it’s hard to argue that he doesn’t achieve that goal. Read More
Many of us are more comfortable communicating in words than in pictures. For example, user assistance writers are by nature and training writers, so they understand words and are adept at using word processing and publishing tools. Writers use lexicentric tools not only for creating and delivering content, but also as cognitive tools—that is, tools that help them think more clearly and efficiently. Thus, a user assistance writer might create a user-task matrix or take advantage of a word processor’s outline view when creating or evaluating a document’s structure.
However, we could also use a number of visual techniques and tools—not only for generating content, but also as cognitive and analysis tools. Unfortunately, these visual methods and their respective tools do not get much attention, and many writers don’t use them with the same comfort level they do tools that let them manipulate words. As Figure 1 shows, some writers hold onto their lexicentric world view, sometimes to their detriment. Read More