John Morkes was visiting me in Toronto last weekend. John is responsible for most of the research on how to effectively write for the web, done in collaboration with Jakob. John’s work has been seminal in educating content writers, journalists and web masters about how to improve their readers comprehension, reading time and opinions of the available content.
In my conversations with John, I started thinking about the content I write for applications and the web.
PowerPoint presentations are probably the biggest violators of usability principles. They are often large, full of unnecessary animations and don’t convey the message to the intended audience. The use of animations, flying text, superflous sounds, poor designs, bad color, low contrast, non-sensical grammar, are common among PowerPoint designers. PowerPoint can be used effectively, perhaps I should spend some time to write a tutorial about PowerPoint usability.
Other resouces that I find that I continually refer to for examples and process include William Horton’s Designing and Writing Online Documentation and Joann Hackos’ Managing Your Documentation Projects. The Horton book is an excellent reference full of examples of how to write effective documentation from the user’s perspective. The Hackos books is a great tool for designing and integrating an documentation process into a software development lifecycle. She focuses on the importance of documentation and has a formal process that is extremely useful.