Human Factors for Technical Communicators / Edition 1

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A crash course in human factors theory and practice for technical communicators

If you're a technical writer, technical editor, documentation manager, user-interface designer, usability tester, or any other type of technical communication professional, you've probably found yourself becoming more and more involved in the development, design, and testing of technical communication products. In order to handle your expanded responsibilities effectively you need a solid grounding in human factors, the art and science of designing for people. And now this book gives it to you—fast.

First, expert Marlana Coe takes you on a fascinating tour of the burgeoning science of human factors. In terms that you can understand, she explains all about the psychology and physiology of how users access, learn, and remember information; the impact of colors, shapes, and patterns; learning styles; approaches and obstacles to problem solving; action structures; and more. And, with the help of real-life examples of various technical communication products, she vividly demonstrates what works, what doesn't, and why.

Then, she shows you how to apply what you've learned to create the best technical communication products possible. You'll find out how to:
* Analyze users' needs and learning styles
* Get and interpret user feedback and create partnerships with users
* Select the most effective layouts, colors, fonts, and graphics
* Build better navigational infrastructures
* Develop content that gives users everything they need to quickly identify and resolve problems
* Test and improve your product's usability

To master the art of the development, design, and testing of technical products, professionals require a grounding in human factors. Now, this book introduces human theory and shows how to translate it into practice. With examples drawn from real life, it tackles everything from using color to graphics to layout to getting feedback from users and more.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780471035305
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 4/20/1996
  • Series: Wiley Technical Communication Library
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 9.25 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 0.77 (d)

Meet the Author

MARLANA COE is owner of Coe Communications, a technical communications consulting firm. She also teaches an introductory course in human factors at UCLA.

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Table of Contents

Sensation and Perception.



Problem Solving.

Accessing Information.


User Partnerships.

Choosing a Medium.

Building the Navigational Infrastructure.

Presenting Information.

Designing and Developing Content.




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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 12, 2001

    An enjoyable book, leaving you wanting for more.

    This book is part of the Wiley Technical Communication Library, a handy range of books aimed specifically at technical communicators that recognises the broad range of disciplines in which practitioners need a grounding. In this case, we are looking at aspects of usability. Human Factors is an easy read, perhaps if anything not delving deep enough into its subject. However, the information is well presented and gives a good general overview of the topic. There are twelve chapters, stretching from perception and learning theory to choosing a medium and defining a structure. There is overlap with other books on document design but the emphasis is slightly different here, coming always from the human perspective. The early chapters concentrate on research findings about sensation, perception, learning, memory, problem solving techniques and how people access information. This all contributes to a sounder understanding of how readers perceive information presented to them and why they perceive it as they do. The book then moves on to the practical ramifications this has on presenting information. It covers the creation of partnerships to involve users in information design and development, and design of the document itself (choice of medium, building a navigational infrastructure, deciding how to present the information and developing the content). More than anything, this volume serves as an appetiser, encouraging the reader to find out more about the subject. Appendix B provides a list of human factors resources to facilitate this. An enjoyable book, leaving you wanting for more.

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