Technical Documentation and Crowdsourcing

Technical Documentation and Crowdsourcing

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Extremely interesting post on the I'd Rather Be Writing website about crowdsourcing documentation. My major takeaway is this: "It takes more of a sense of expertise and authoritativeness to write documentation than to answer a forum question." I agree completely. I also agree with his premise that our jobs aren't going away any time soon because of that. Read more: http://idratherbewriting.com/2017/08/05/why-stack-overflow-documentation-effort-failed/ --Tamra
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Redesigning Text-Heavy Fliers

Redesigning Text-Heavy Fliers

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Here’s a recent response (with a few edits to protect confidentiality) to a question by a PR person who wanted to know how I’d redesign some single page fliers for a client of theirs. "I think {your client's} projects are as much “information design” as they are graphic design. In other words the project isn’t just “how do I make this look better” but also involves thinking about how to categorize and “chunk” the information so it has more of an impact, and then design a layout that does a good job of both branding the client and getting the information read. I’d be looking at the text not just as a graphical element, but also offering suggestions as to what parts of the text could be pulled out of…
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Throw-Back Thursday Website Design from 2000

Throw-Back Thursday Website Design from 2000

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This "Throw-Back Thursday" post is about LMT Investment Company's website. This design went live in mid-2000 and they kept the same design through the end of 2003. [caption id="attachment_1803" align="aligncenter" width="723"] LMT Website Design[/caption] The claymation-style graphics were stock images that were sourced for their friendly look -- as a family-run commercial real estate group LMT wanted a look-and-feel that stood out from the standard "corporate blue and grey with photos of buildings with lots of windows" design that dominated their local competition's websites. Done in standard HTML with the Featured Properties information coming from a text file they uploaded once a week (exported from their in-house database). The home page news box was an "include" of a text file that they also uploaded whenever they had something new to…
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Never Stop Learning

Never Stop Learning

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Technology is constantly changing, and our skills need to keep up. But that's not what this is about -- it's about learning all the other stuff, not just the technical bits. Bruce has been busy re-learning golf. His work with Tailored Solutions has helped him learn a lot about everything from building apps to incorporating a signature pad into a technical solution, but it's the golf that has him smiling these days. He was a dedicated golfer in his younger days, and when the folks at Tailored hired him on they also dragged him out golfing again. Twenty years after the last time he worked toward a handicap he's hard at work again. The downside is the garage is cluttered with golf equipment again, but the upside is that fresh…
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Dynamic Text Scroller for Client

Dynamic Text Scroller for Client

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Last week we spent some time updating a long-term clients' website with new links to press releases, new client quotes on the testimonials page, and new items added to their long list of clients and associated products. We do maintenance updates like this every few months for this client, a busy software company that doesn't want the overhead of a web person in-house. But the big addition to their website for this round of changes is a small box that shows 29 different quotes from satisfied customers of theirs on a scrolling basis. Client quotes are a big part of their marketing, and the company wanted a way to see more than just a couple of the quotes on the home page without changing the entire site design. Since their…
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Non-English HTML Formatting

Non-English HTML Formatting

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Working away in BBEdit today, formatting the Spanish-language version of a couple of press releases for a client's website. WYSIWYG tools are fine-and-dandy for speedy layout, but you still need to know enough actual HTML code to go in and fix things. At the very least when working with pages translated into multiple languages you need to know enough to be able to check and make sure whatever "word to html" script you used coded all the accent marks correctly so your page doesn't show up in certain browsers with mysterious little question mark icons in place of text. Those little diamond-shaped question mark symbols also show up when m-dash and n-dash symbols aren't coded right or are left as the native Word .docx symbol. Don't forget to check in…
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Throwback Thursday — 1996

Throwback Thursday — 1996

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It's hard to believe we've been in business since 1995, but we can actually prove it, thanks to the internet itself! Our original business name of Hart Consulting (picked in the 15 minutes I had available to register a name with the city of Mountain View California, so no time for creative naming) may be long gone, but the Wayback Machine still exists. The Internet Archive Wayback Machine has archived "snapshots" of websites from as far back as 1995. It's funny to see how primitive layout and design was back then. And here we thought we were pretty darned trendy to be using tables in such a sophisticated manner. Here are some screenshots of our October 1996 website as captured by the Wayback Machine. [caption id="attachment_1733" align="aligncenter" width="609"] We thought…
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Flyers from Templates

Flyers from Templates

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A long-standing client had a short-n-sweet project they needed completed. In addition to the very short deadline, they had a very small budget, and half of the amount was needed for color printing at a quick printer. So we quickly found and downloaded a template that would work, flowed in their text, grabbed photos from the ones we'd taken for their website, and sent the file off to be printed. Sometimes our job isn't about creating something from scratch -- instead, it's about helping a client with a specific need get their project done as efficiently as possible. Were there drawbacks with this method? Oh yes -- for one thing, the template is a photoshop file instead of being done in InDesign, so there are no paragraph or character styles…
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The New Google

The New Google

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Forbes has a short but useful article for small business owners on the most recent changes to Google, and what it means to a website owner. To me the most important point is #4: Content is key. Whether Google ends up using the authorship tag to move your website higher in the search results or not, having good content that people want to read (or look at in the case of visually-oriented websites) has always been the key to getting fans and getting found. Back in the early days of the web some of the most popular websites had webcams showing the contents of a fridge -- it's not that we were so easily amused, it's that it was new and different in that time, so it got a lot…
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Flier and Email for Bakery

Flier and Email for Bakery

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We just finished up a flier design that was repurposed as an html email. The client, a commercial bakery in California, needed fast turn around and asked us to create something with a similar look to a flier they created in-house. We took their InDesign file and set up a custom grid, then added paragraph styles and character styles. We used images from a recent photoshoot we did for their website, and we repurposed their website copy to create a first draft of the flier. The client provided some text changes, and we then uploaded the final PDF to FedExOffice last night for pickup this morning, and all 300 copies will go out with orders over the next couple of days. We then took the final design and created a…
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