Human Factors Principles

01 November 2018

Designing usable products use Human factors principles. Here is a summary of the key principles. Good design ensures the users are always informed about the current status in the product. The user should be familiar with the terms and phrases used in the product. The user should always be in control, not the system. Everything should be consistent in the system - don’t change the meaning or function of a task in another part of the product. Errors should be clearly described in error messages. User’s shouldn’t have to remember information from one dialog to the next. Tasks should be as efficent as possible. User’s shouldn’t have to deal with noise, just the information. Finally, provide help to users.

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Beauty and usability in balance

01 October 2018

Recently at the Tekom yearly conference in Stuttgart, I heard a great presentation on the design principles around which SAP builds its products. These principles are encapsulated in the SAP Flori Design. It was not delivered by a UX or UI designer, as one would expect, but by a technical writer working for SAP. I heard plenty of talks that week but only this one had any significant impact on me. Unfortunately, I can’t recall the name of the presenter, but she was from Montreal. The key takeaway from the presentation was that SAP’s new design principles came about as the result of a courageous decision on the part of the company. SAP realized the UI design of SAP applications sucked! SAP knew about it and wanted to change it. So, they brought in an expert designer to completely rethink and redesign SAP UIs. The result was SAP Flori.

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The Usability Genius of Quonset Huts

01 September 2018

The Quanset Hut is a genius invention and shows what can be done when you combine a pressing need with good, sound engineering and documentation. You’ve probably seen them in movies about World War II or seen them used as garages on farms. The Quonset Hut was used with great effect during World War II for military housing, storage, and general use. It was the greatest assemble-yourself product long before IKEA came up with the idea. And it had better documentation. A small group of soldiers with little building experience could assemble a Quonset Hut in a very short time and when required, take it apart and box it ready for assembly at the next location. It was a brilliant invention and many a soldier or airman thanked the designers for their relative comfort these huts afforded them.

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The origins of technical writing in ancient Babylon - the iClay

01 August 2018

Did you know technical writing may have had its origin in the ancient city of Babylon! Well, not really! But you never know. In Babylon, Technical Writers were a highly skilled professional just as they are today. To be considered a professional, these specialists required many years of training and experience in the many skills associated with producing high quality documentation. They were also a very valuable asset to any ancient organization whether run by a ruthless dictatorial king or managed by a sympathetic local governor.

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Basic markdown cheatsheet

01 July 2018

This markdown cheatsheet is not comprehensive and you can probably find much more details cheatsheets available elsewhere. But this is just the basic markdown, at least the markdown I use most frequently. I will add to it, eventually.

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