80 Matching Annotations
  1. Mar 2021
  2. Jan 2017
    1. Anne Sullivan grew up in Feeding Hills Massachusetts in a poor Irish immigrants house with her mother, father, and two younger brother, and sister. Her father was a poor farmhand who used all of their money on alcohol, he often beat Anne and her mother tried to hide her from him. when Anne was two she suffered from tracheotomy where her vision started to deteriorate very quickly. she had two unsuccessful operations before her mom died when she was seven from tuberculosis. Once her mom died the dad gave up the kids to relatives, nobody wanted Anne or her younger brother Jimmie since Anne was blind and Jimmie had a large tuberculosis lump on his hip. but the toddler was very healthy and was taken by their aunt. Anne and Jimmie were taken to Tewksbury

  3. Sep 2016
    1. Observation ranges from an informal method, where the researcher watches a user and takes notes, perhaps inter- rupting and asking questions, to a very formal method, where a video camera records and time stamps a user at work while a program records the keystrokes used

      Observation is effective because the researcher can observe the user directly. In market research, users are typically placed in a room with a two-sided mirror, a camera, and sound recorder; this allows the researchers to observe the users in a separate location -- allowing the users to feel more comfortable and less pressured as they complete the tasks at hand. Hopefully, if the users are more comfortable and in a relaxed setting, they will provide useful (and truthful) feedback.

    2. Surveys, interviews, and comprehension tests are not particularly helpful in finding out what moves users make while they use a product.

      I think this is because the survey and interview questions might be too generalized, and doesn't allow for precise answers from the users. Also, users might fabricate their answers, or alter them in a way they think will please the surveyor/interviewer/tester.

    3. technical communicators have sophisticated methods for an- alyzing audiences and an empathy for users, giving them a unique contribution to the development of computer products

      Technical communicators process expert level information/knowledge into something that can be more easily accessed by a general audience. I like that Sullivan used the word "empathy" here. It suggests that technical communicators have a gift for connecting with users and understanding what they need.

    4. Usability can be a part of their research. When marketers are interested in usability, that in- terest is product specific and is customer satisfaction driven. They tend to run focus groups about current and potential products, analyze the customer response cards for a product, and conduct telephone surveys. A product that works well and is an innovation will not be seen as successful if the customers are dissatisfied

      Things to keep in mind about market research(from my work experience in market research): oftentimes, the product-specific interest is also customer specific. Examples of customer specificity include projects that target loyal-brand only customers, and projects that target unaware-only customers. Focus groups are coordinated through set parameters: customer preferences, demographics, personality, and purchase habits.

      This type of usability test certainly does apply to the process of technical communication, because one thing is key: the audience. For marketers, the audience is the specific customer base; for technical communicators, the audience is also who will use their product.

    5. One major filter for a study is the group that conducts it. Several overlapping groups study usability, approaching it with different questions in mind.

      This can be compared to what was read in Wickman's Wicked Problems article. He stated that the different groups from the class approached the Gulf oil spill in a different way. He had groups made up of different disciplines and groups made up of similar disciplines. Both types of groups approached the problem in a way that aligned with their strengths and personal interests. The same applies to usability studies in that there are multiple ways to approach the same topic.

      Wickman, C. (2014). Wicked Problems in Technical Communication. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication, 44(1), 23-42. doi:10.2190/tw.44.1.c

    6. With a group of target users 0 Using a product 0 In a setting 0 To perform a task 0 For a reason 0 With a result

      Both Sullivan and Wickman utilize steps (and plans of action) when approaching their research. Likewise, both authors utilize frameworks in their research.

      Part of becoming an effective technical communicator is to plan ahead. Time constraints are real, and it is important to give yourself enough time to write and re-write your works.

    7. . I think it makes sense for technical communicators to be involved in the larger quest for usability because we have a close connection to end users, because we have an audience theory, and be- cause we have a growing body of information about users in action

      As writers in technical communication, our work is audience centered. Therefore, it makes sense for technical communicators to be involved in expanded usability, because we focus on what is best for our audience. Expanded usability testing can ensure that we reach our primary and secondary audiences in a more exact way. It might also expand the accidental, or unintentional audiences too. However, it is always most important to target products at your primary and secondary audience members.

      In general, the need for usability testing is expanding. Our world is growing more diverse, and the types of audiences we have at our fingertips are expanding. Usability testing can greatly benefit users that are often times neglected; an example of this would be users with disabilities. An applicable example of this issue occurred today (09.06.16): Hulu has agreed to expand its closed captioning programs due to in-accessibility (and great upset) from deaf individuals and The National Association of the Deaf.

      NAD, A. (2016, September 06). The NAD and Hulu Reach Agreement. Retrieved September 06, 2016, from https://nad.org/news/2016/9/nad-and-hulu-reach-agreement

    8. It can even sound simple when we say that usability investigates whether users can successfully use com- puter products. But the study of users and their use of products is not straightforward.

      Because each individual user approaches the product in an individual way. Usability testing does not have one solution, and user accessibility cannot be understood after one test. The can be compared to Chad Wickman's Wicked Problems in Technical Communication. The problem of the Gulf oil spill did not have one solution to it -- it had many -- and of the many, the solutions still had to be revised over and over again.

      Wickman, C. (2014). Wicked Problems in Technical Communication. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication, 44(1), 23-42. doi:10.2190/tw.44.1.c

    9. In practice, most lab- oratory and field studies blend together direct questioning and observation methods into one study.

      It is interesting that they have chosen to phase out editorial and technical review. It seems they've declined to answer to expert's ethos, and instead rely statistics gathered by way of user testing and interview.

    10. In the final analysis, the tension between explo- ration and grading has encouraged the variety of approaches to the study of usability in technical communication. They hold equally compelling beliefs that the natural experience can be a test of usability and that grading the text would offer the best (most efficient) test of usability.

      Both exploration and grading seem important to the advancement of usability. Exploration is important for discovering new methods to present information that are more widely understood. Grading is important for grading these methods.

    11. Because no one group focuses on usability exclusively, devel- oping a comprehensive approach to studying it during prod- uct development, testing, and natural use, it certainly makes a difference to a particular study which group is conducting the study. If we were to ask each of these groups to study users learning to use a word processor, the resulting studies would differ in foci, methods, goals, findings, and philoso- phy.

      It doesn't seem like the study of usability has a systematic method of inquiry in the same way that other fields have the scientific method. It seems natural that different researchers would turn up vastly different results.

    12. He finds that reminding themselves of infor- mation is as important as pointers to finding information, and that workers view classification of information as their most difficult task.

      Little habits like this, though they may seem insignificant, demonstrates how people minds organize information, and what areas they need assistance. Taking things like this into account can really boost usability.

    13. Filter 3: Research Questions That Can Be Posed in Usability Research Research questions give us another filter on the studies, partic- ularly if we see these questions as means of assessing whether a study focuses on one type of question or cuts a broader swath. By grouping the typical research questions posed about usability into questions that focus on the product, questions that focus on the user, and questions that focus on the milieu, we can quickly see whether a study goes deeply into one type of research question.

      Not only can a research question be posed, but it is practically necessary. Usability is an incredibly broad term, that covers nearly every facet of nearly all publicly available content. If you are going to improve it, you will need specific goals to focus on. A research question clarifies those goals.

    14. Direct questioning -Surveys -Interviews - Comprehension tests

      I feel that direct questioning is definitely one of the more effective methods when handling methods of research. Different ways to go about surveying participants is by going to a populated area and asking randoms people to assist. Or mail them out as well.For interviews you can also go to a populated area to ask if they would like to participate in the study, also go by telephone but that really isn't a preferred method now a days. For comprehension tests, this is when they ask to answer questions, so send out flyers in the mail to help to assist with questioning or email them online to random participants again.

    15. A problem with classical fieldwork is that it is founded on interviews and notes taken by the researcher (after the obser- vation). It assumes that the people are competent in their grasp of their own culture, and that the researcher participates until shehe understands the culture enough to go back and tell us about it.

      I think this method is something that Sullivan steers away from because it doesn't leave much room for multi modality or the collaboration between multiple disciplines. It is more one sided in it's way of collecting and analyzing information and as the author states doesn't take into account the context of the person being observed and their cultural awareness.

    16. its strictest cognitive psychologists aim to build theories of users or of learning and its strictest engineers aim to build systems that solve problems they notice.

      I think the author is trying to show how people working in different disciplines can achieve a common goal and that technical writing and communication is evolving to be multimodal. Different skill sets are needed to create the different systems and products in technical communication and also to measure their usability and what is deemed a successful product or message.

    17. ssue 3: Can Usability Research Present Writing Theory With Compelling Arguments for Integrating Usability More Centrally Into the Writing Development Process?

      Through this part of the reading Sullivan goes into a discussion of whether or not usability research presents writing theory with compelling arguments for integrating usability more centrally into the writing development process. He states that this is a yes pointing out although usability may not help out the writers in a sense it will help to assist the viewers. Which this will give the writers a chance to learn about the views which he discussed earlier in the chapter.

      By learning about the viewers, writers are able to change the view point that they have on constructing manuals, because they now know the point of view of the users. These tests lead to endless possibilities for the writers to go off of to find out what the viewers want.


      I generally found this entire section wonderful and informative. Sullivan in this section discusses the issues at hand while broadening our view in usability while also informing us of the con's that come with it. He discusses three issues that touch base on product development, whether or not usability can be put in a natural context, and can usability be found in compelling arguments.My favorite issue that he discusses is the third one; I will go into more depth with my annotation there.

    19. Surveys, interviews, and comprehension tests are not particularly helpful in finding out what moves users make while they use a product.

      For this reason, I would think that observation is probably the most effective way of judging usability. Second hand accounts could never bee as helpful ass actually seeing how people interact with your content first hand.

    20. Sociology- Another group, though peripheral to the day-to- day study of usability, is made up of sociologists and an- thropologists. These researchers have contributed studies of people working with computers that point out dimensions of usability that are not seen in a laboratory study

      Sociology can be very helpful when trying to aid in the improvement of usability. The discipline includes the study of commonly accepted method of communication within a society, which is vital information when you are trying to modify specialized information for wider consumption.

    21. When we are working inside a discipline, everyone shares values and goals, a com- mon educational platform, and a common world view. We cannot assume that commonality in multidisciplinary work. Thus, the step of articulating the context of a study helps us to better understand why a study is as it is

      By explaining specialist subjects with a more broadly used vernacular, utilizing more universally understood modes, and sharing the context that certain information was researched, specialized information within a single discipline can be shared with a much larger audience. This is very important, as what might seem like an insignificant study could potentially have far reaching application if shared properly.

    22. Consider some of the decisions faced by a particular study- how to measure using, what to consider successful, or where in the development cycle to conduct the test.

      There are some methods you can use. The rate of returns for first time visitors and the number of complaints received are both excellent statistics that point to how user friendly your medium is, albeit indirectly.

    23. Ed- itorial experts can find style problems more efficiently, and more reliably, than users can. Technical experts can locate problems with the technical content of a manual more effi- ciently, and more reliably, than users can. Although traditional evaluation handles many problems well, it does not necessar- ily expose usability problems

      Editorial and and technical experts are likely to have encountered many examples of technical writing with varying levels of usability. When critiquing, they have plenty of examples compare to, and so I imagine they are the most prepared to offer criticism.

    24. If we take a broader view of usability, then we must deal with a flood of information, not all of which is ultimately relevant. Usability research, broadly construed, includes the work of people who design systems, test them, develop ed- ucational materials, and study users.

      It's interesting how Sullivan advocates a broader view of usability but also acknowledges some of the challenges it creates, in this case a flood of information. It also shows the theme of adaption that appears throughout the text, with the author referring to the new fields and positions that this broader view creates from people who research to those that design and test new systems.

    25. It makes clear what components of the study were (or should have been) focal to the effort. It also clarifies why particular groups were studied and why certain methods were selected

      Using the method of these place questions helps to keep organization as Sullivan says. But it also helps with the focal point of the research. These are extremely important as Sullivan goes on to mention about what groups are studied and why. This in turn will help others to figure out and apply these things to their own situations during research.

    26. In this article, I argue that we technical communicators need to interpret the charge of usability more broadly than a narrow interpretation of usability testing allows, turning to the whole range of usability research for a conception that takes advan- tage of the exciting investigations that are being carried out in various places. But there are consequences to broadening our view.

      Sullivan points out how important that usability is for technical writers and mentions that this is what his argument will be about for the article. It is very smart of him though to point out that their are some consequences when it comes to "broadening our view" of usability. There is always a consequence to everything that we do, and the fact that he argues both sides shows that he is doesn't just want to persuade us to follow the need of usability but for us to do so wisely while knowing the consequences. He definitely goes into this later on in the reading about the issues that can be at hand.

    27. Consider some of the decisions faced by a particular study- how to measure using, what to consider successful, or where in the development cycle to conduct the test.

      Again, the author is raising questions on how usability changes depending on the context and also how the successfulness of writing is reliant also on context and the development cycle. I think it's interesting to think about how adaption and context could also effect what is considered successful. It would definitely be important for a group of coworkers to be in consensus of what a successful outcome to a project would be over a negative one. Without it, their work would have no direction or purpose behind it and would likely go off in different directions.

    28. Two steps can be used to situate those studies vis-a-vis the landscape of usability research, an analysis of the context sur- rounding a particular study and an analysis of the structure of the study itself. The reason for dividing this “situating” into a two-step process arises out of the multidisciplinary na- ture of the usability research project. When we are working inside a discipline, everyone shares values and goals, a com- mon educational platform, and a common world view. We cannot assume that commonality in multidisciplinary work. Thus, the step of articulating the context of a study helps us to better understand why a study is as it is.

      This paragraph is noteworthy for two reasons:

      1. I agree with the author's suggestion that the context surrounding a particular study and the structure of the study need to be analyzed separately because the usability research does not fall under one discipline. For example, a study involving 100 female freshman CIS Majors at Georgia State University would produce very different results from a study of 100 random people off of the street. Because the produced data would clearly vary, a context analysis is necessary.
      2. This paragraph reminds me of a concept in sociological research: disaggregated versus aggregated data. Aggregated data is a collection of data that has been summarized and "watered down" or generalized, while disaggregated data has been broken apart into subgroups. It can help researchers fully understand trends and findings, while providing data that more accurately represents a population. If the context and structure were not analyzed seperately, results would likely resemble aggregated data that does not accurately represent the sample.
    29. A problem with classical fieldwork is that it is founded on interviews and notes taken by the researcher (after the obser- vation). It assumes that the people are competent in their grasp of their own culture, and that the researcher participates until shehe understands the culture enough to go back and tell us about it. This assumption has trouble when the study deals with the introduction of new elements into a culture. Then the “natives” are not expert informants. Further, the inter- actions with the machine and the documentation are so rapid and complex that it is difficult for the researcher to capture the problems in notes after the fact. Thus, classical methodology is in the process of being adapted to the needs of studying usability. Successful adaptation is needed if field studies are to make a robust contribution to usability

      I am assuming "classical fieldwork" refers to the somewhat standard method of surveying within sociology and anthropology. It is true that surveys/interpersonal interviews have been an effective method of data collection for both of the disciplines, in part, because of the nature of the data collected. In several of my sociology courses, I have conducted extensive research on social problems and patterns of behavior. Although i researched a variety of issues, they all had one thing in common- data was related to interpersonal interactions within social systems and institutions. However, usability research focuses on human-computer relations, rather than interpersonal ones. Although this method of data collection has worked in sociology, it would likely not work at all in this case. I agree that new methods should be utilized, but i am unsure of how to best represent usability data without unintentionally aggregating it.

    30. Users may work nat- urally, or they may be asked to talk aloud as they use the sys- tem (user protocol) or read the text (reader protocol). These methods of observation help answer questions related to what happens when a user tries to use a product. They can capture the time it takes, the actions taken, and the success the user had. If the user talks aloud, they can also tap the strategies and reasons for action. But they do not necessarily answer questions about the user’s response to the product.

      I understand that this formal method of observation may "catch" data that informal observation and note taking may miss, but i question the accuracy of the data found. For example, If i was instructed to use a new website while just being observed, I would face the challenge of navigating the website purely based on common sense. If i was told to read the text or talk aloud while navigating the website, I would feel somewhat "guided." It would also slow my pace, giving me more time to comprehend text and find pages within the site. Although i'd be able to better navigate the site, it would not accurately reflect the usability of the site in a real-world setting.

    31. Human-computer interaction, because it is interdisciplinary, does not project a single atti- tude

      I think the author is trying to get readers to see computers as a space where many different types of interactions can occur. A job for a technical writer using a computer is different than the task of a engineer or psychologist. The computer is a way for us to create and receive messages that are multimodal, so there are many different ways of thinking about and creating these messages, taking from different disciplines like sociology, psychology and writing. I think this is also why Sullivan stresses the adaption of research methods throughout the article because the computer has always been evolving to be more and more multimodal.

    32. The answer can be yes. This answer is tied, in part, to the effort to test products early in the cycle. Many researchers, in technical communication and elsewhere, are arguing for ear- lier and more exploratory testing. We know from published research that product research is developing methods rapidly. But so few of the product tests are published. Because so few are published, as a group we have fewer methods for en- hancing product development than we as individuals actually employ.

      I agree with the hypothesis that usability research can develop methods for enhancing product development. As i noted above, testing usability towards the beginning of the product development process would allow for the development of products to be increasingly based on the results of the usability testing, while testing after development likely leads to very minor improvements on products. Here, Sullivan noted that although research is developing quickly, only a handful of tests have been published. However, i see this as an advantage, rather than a burden, for usability testers. With few precedent findings, usability testers could employ experimental, rather than "tried and true," methods of testing. By thinking creatively and across disciplines, new methods of usability testing could be formed and more effective products could be created.

    33. 256 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON PROFESSIONAL COMMUNICATION, VOL. 32, NO. 4, DECEMBER 1989 Beyond a Narrow Conception of Usability Testing


      In Patricia Sullivan’s article, “Beyond a Narrow Conception of Usability Testing,” she began by discussing the need for a broader interpretation of usability because of its complex nature. Next, she asks “what is it that we are doing in relation to others who study usability, and what might we need to be doing?” First, she notes that technical writers should contribute to research regarding the broader concept of usability. Because a broader interpretation of usability also means a larger body of information to tackle, studies should be situated within the umbrella of usability research, but both the context of a study and the study in and of itself should be analyzed as well. Analyzing the context of a study allows researchers to understand the choices made within the study, such as the chosen population. Analyzing the structure of the study allows researchers to understand factors such a study’s focus and constrains. However, depending on the identity of the group that conducts the study, such as sociologists or psychologists, different questions may be raised. For example, in the interdisciplinary group of human-computer interaction, all researchers are concerned with interface design, but may approach it differently by employing various methods and asking differing questions. Sociologists focus their studies on usability and how people interact with computers via observational techniques, while marketers focus their usability research on specific products and services. Technical communicators focus their research on the educational documents regarding a system and “how users employ those aids to help them learn a system.” The research of technical communicators is often interdisciplinary, so research methods are consulted as guides, rather than as set rules of practice. Researchers can then employ any combination of methods that they see fit in their research. Some research methods for usability studies include surveying, observation, keystroke records, and computer text analysis. The various methods can be organized into three models of research. First, the product development model pertains to the product development process of engineering, so it utilizes lab-based research methods. The cognitive model is based on the work of human-computer interaction psychologists, whose focus is on finished, developed products. The cultural model, often used by sociologists, utilizes field work in order to study “normal use” usability. Each model is also related to certain types of questions. For example, the cultural model is often connected to questions regarding the environment, or context, of a study. In closing, Sullivan addresses three questions pertaining to usability research. First, she argues that usability research can “develop methods for enhancing product development,” particularly if usability is tested earlier in the product development process. Second, she claims that she is unsure of whether or not usability research can be used as a “model” for studying “naturally occurring” usability until more field research is conducted on the subject. In closing, Sullivan enthusiastically argues that usability could become more “central” to the writing process in general due to advances in usability research. When technical communicators are aware of users and when usability research is implemented at the front-end of the writing cycle, technical communicators are able to produce significantly more effective and usable documents.

    34. As technical communicators, we are always going to be more interested in issues related to the development of usable ed- ucational materials and interfaces. The challenge for us is to figure out how to incorporate the growing knowledge of users into the development of manuals and interfaces.

      Earlier in my annotations, i mentioned the ways in which marketers understand audiences by constructing personas. The concept of personas is somewhat relative to this passage as well. However, the challenge of "incorporating the growing knowledge of users," seems far more complex than persona construction. Instead of having to create imaginary figures to make predictions about the traits of an audience, technical communicators must do almost the inverse and navigate and narrow down a wealth of information pertaining to users in order to determine what is applicable for developing a manual or interface. Here, the process of communicating with one another to decide on how findings connect to documents is similar to the rhetorical concept of dialectic, which i mentioned in greater detail in Wickman's "Wicked Problems in Technical Communication". Collaboration between technical communicators, like traditional dialectic, helps rhetors organize and process information in order to form effective arguments, or in this case, manuals and interfaces.

      Wickman, C. (2014). Wicked Problems in Technical Communication. Journal Of Technical Writing & Communication, 44(1), 23-42.

    35. a cumulative study that informs future writing, then every usability test can con- tribute to that writer’s knowledge of users. It becomes a way of building a concrete theory of audience. Such a concrete theory of audience can lead writers to change the ways in which they think about manuals in the early stages of writing. They may read more about user behavior before starting to work on a project to a new group of users. They may, for example, ask for more testing of competitors’ pack- ages before shaping their own documentation. They may run exploratory user tests on modules that take experimental ap- proaches, or on the basic language that is central to the book, or on the outline of the text

      Beginning on the last sentence of page 7, this closing addresses the importance for technical writers engaged in usability testing to learn about users.Although technical writing is often viewed as more expository than rhetorical,an excellent document regarding usability or usability testing effectively addresses the rhetorical situation, or the "set of circumstances in which an author creates a text," according to Writer/Designer: A Guide to Making Multimodal Projects. An important factor within the rhetorical situation is the audience, or in this case, users. Technical writers must consider primary audiences, such as users reading a manual for a software or product, as well as secondary audiences, such as students studying technical writing who may come across the manual. Although consideration of audience is vital to reaching primary audiences, it can also produce more effective technical writers in the future by successfully addressing rhetorical situations.

      Arola, C. (2014). Analyzing Multimodal Projects. Writer/Designer: A Guide to Making Multimodal Projects, 20-40.

    36. These methods are used alone or put in combination with others to study the question of interest. In practice, most lab- oratory and field studies blend together direct questioning and observation methods into one study.

      In Chad Wickman's article, "Wicked Problems in Technical Communication," he author noted that his students worked on tackling the "wicked problem" within groups, and that many of the groups contains students of varying disciplines. The interdisciplinary groups proved to be beneficial because each student had different experiences, areas of expertise, and proposed solutions for consequences of the oil spill, so they were able to effectively collaborate. Similarly, Sullivan notes here that multiple methods can be used in usability research. When individuals from varying backgrounds, such as cognitive psychologists and engineers, collaborate in usability research, they most likely have different ideas about which methods to use. Because of this, interdisciplinary groups of usability researchers are able to select the best combination of methods to reach the concerns of all of the researchers, which in turn, would improve usability overall.

      Wickman, C. (2014). Wicked Problems in Technical Communication. Journal Of Technical Writing & Communication, 44(1), 23-42.

    37. its strictest cognitive psychologists aim to build theories of users or of learning and its strictest engineers aim to build systems that solve problems they notice.

      This practice in human-computer interaction reminds me of a concept that is utilized in marketing known as "creating personas," which is further discussed in the link below. When marketers want to test whether a product or service reaches audiences, they create templates or "composite sketches," of imaginary individuals within the target audiences. Personas constructed by marketers include basic information such as age, gender, and marital status, as well as personal information such as their interests and hobbies. In terms of human-computer interaction, it sounds like cognitive psychologists also make personas or "theories of users," in order to increase usability. Although Sullivan noted that problems may arise due to the differing goals of cognitive psychologists and engineers, engineers could use information gathered from the psychologists' theories to create more effective solution-based systems.

      Lee, K. (2015). The Complete, Actionable Guide to Marketing Personas. Buffer Social. https://blog.bufferapp.com/marketing-personas-beginners-guide

    38. Successful adaptation is needed if field studies are to make a robust contribution to usability.

      I think this point is important to make because assuming your audience is versed in the rhetoric involving computers can have drastic effects on the outcome of the observations of the researcher. I believe that because technical writing is so multimodal, context and adaption are key because it uses new and quickly changing technologies. Sullivan believes that the discipline through which we view technical communication also determines it's context. I think this is where the adaption that the author is speaking about comes in, the way in which we study technical communication needs to change as fast as the issues and technologies surrounding it.

    39. callid for usability to follow the lead of engineering and insert usability into the product development cycle at an earlier phase.

      Including usability testing earlier in the product development cycle would position usability testing as a fundamental stage of product development, instead of as a "finalizing" step before a product is introduced into the market. Traditionally, the product development cycle of six chronological steps was as follows, according to James Duval of Business2Community.com:

      1. Idea Generation
      2. Research
      3. Product Development/Assembly
      4. Usability Testing
      5. Analysis of Findings
      6. Introduction into the marketplace

      Because usability testing occurs after the development of the product, it is clear that the testing would only motivate develops to make minimal changes to a product. Recently, many engineers have utilized a new product development cycle that tests the usability of the potential product before it is actually developed, according to ProductLifeCycleStages.com. After it is developed, the marketability of the product is also tested. When usability testing is at the forefront of product development, the user-centered approach maximizes the potential for growth and allows developers to more effectively plan for the implementation of a product.

      Duval, J. (2013). Eight Simple Steps for New Product Development. Business 2 Community. www.business2community.com/product-management/eight-simple-steps-for-new-product-development-0560298#fGOcuH6At5eDoUyc.97

      New Product Development.(2016). Product Life Cycle Stages. Living Better Media. http://productlifecyclestages.com/new-product-development-stages/

    40. Surveys, interviews, and comprehension tests are not particularly helpful in finding out what moves users make while they use a product.

      I agree with my classmates that this method could be too generalized and not user specific and seem to be less effective than a chosen focus group. I think its thought provoking how the author uses sociology to describe a more hands on approach when it comes to measuring usability with a product or technology. I can see the benefits of a more hands on approach and the use of sociology because it provides the researcher with a better opportunity to observe than in a survey type setting where the end user is more separated from the researcher. I think this is also why the sociologists way of thinking about technical communication is better suited for education and office settings where people are interacting with one another.

    41. The traditional evaluation methods involve a computer or an expert evaluating the product for how well it meets preset criteria.

      I think it's important to notice the distinction the author makes between technical review and work in the field, what the author prefers and how some views of usability study prefer laboratory work over field and some the opposite. For example, Sullivan states that a sociology perspective is better studied using field work as opposed to more controlled experiments in a laboratory. I think the traditional method of evaluation focuses more on the end product as opposed to using technical thinking early on during the prototype process. It also less on the analysis of the context in which the message is delivered. Because technical writing is now so multimodal, with people working within many disciplines at once, there are less commonalities among collaborators and more of a need for the analysis of context, Sullivan believes.

    42. This paper explores ways that technical communication can take a broader view of usability and then situate new approaches and studies.

      I think this touches on the goals we have created for technical writing in this class, emphasizing that the usability of the piece differs depending on the client it's created for. Sullivan uses this goal for the article as a pillar to discuss different ways in which we study usability and the effect that a multitude of different disciplines, like psychology and sociology, can have on the study of usability and technical communication. I think this message is relevant today because of the multimodal forms of communication present in todays world and how new mediums are emerging alongside new technologies.

    43. The Cultural Model With an Example From Describing Social Use- The cultural model takes a sociological approach to the task of studying usability, and its methods aim to study usability in the context of normal use.

      I believe that seeing technical writing through a sociologist's viewpoint is important because of what the author calls "the context of normal use". Although in the reading and in the other articles it's expressed that making your message too simple or dumbed down is also ineffective, it's important for your message to be user friendly and direct also. I think the most effective way to make your message user friendly would be field studies as opposed to laboratory studies even though this is a relatively new approach to technical writing.

    44. These exploratory tests will serve as litmus paper for their ideas, and any of these changes to the concrete thoughts that writers have about users will change the ways in which they develop manuals

      Continuing to do usability testing is essential for technical communicators to continue to improve their relationship with their users.

    45. though work on feedback during product development is also needed, as are integrated studies of product, users, and milieu, and studies that develop methods. In short, almost everything needs to be done.

      There are endless variables to consider during usability testing, and that makes it difficult to make sure everything is done.

    46. If we were to ask each of these groups to study users learning to use a word processor, the resulting studies would differ in foci, methods, goals, findings, and philoso- phy.

      Each group is an individual variable. Different approaches are what makes testing usability so difficult.

    47. In general, few usability researchers think about the missions of usability researchers outside their fields. Usability of docu- mentation can illustrate the differing views. Baecker and Bux- ton, in a text that features the importance of usability to the field of human-computer interaction, reflect the marginal posi- tion of documentation to that field as they relegate documenta- tion to a miscellaneous chapter near the end of the book. [ 141 Even their forward-looking text sees writing as “tacked on.” Writers, on the other hand, generally make human-computer interaction just as marginal to their effort. As both Nelson [15] and McDowell [16] point out, human factors is not a recognized part of the education of technical communicators. Thus, we can expect that few technical communicators read what human-computer interaction researchers are saying about users and usability and then think about how that work may apply to the writing of documentation.

      I found this paragraph really interesting, just because we kind of get the sense of where people in different job settings take human-computer interactions seriously. Writer's generally aren't concerned with this, but when it comes to technical writers the research that they look into for this will affect their career I'm sure.

    48. However, not every kind of investigative measure yields the same kind of information;

      Correlates to the idea in Wicked Problems where different statistics and accounts were being found across the student groups, as well as the affect of perspective. Each specialized group would have a different perspective within their different fields

    49. What is it that we are doing in relation to others who study usability, and what might we need to be doing?

      This is important in a rhetorical sense because it is the open question that we need to address to an audience. It relates to Wicked Problems in that it questions the relation of Technical communication to other fields' areas of study.

    50. Construed narrowly, “usability testing of documentation” can be limited to validating the usability of a nearly completed draft.

      "The usability of an interface is a measure of the effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction with which specified users can achieve specified goals in a particular environment with that interface."


    51. We remember our interest is in helping users to learn, and we approach situating new mate- rial within that general stance of advocating users and their learning.

      This can readily affect organization of material and the diction used, as well as introducing the potential of multimodal communications.

    52. The first step in situating a study is to build an interpretation of the context that the study grows out of. We begin to situate studies when we place the study: 0 In a time 0 In a place 0 In an investigative group 0 In a project/event sequence 0 In a society 0 In a set of research goals

      By defining the parameters of origins, you create an easily definable topic for your audience. This helps you compose your document because there is a clear intent behind your piece. Essentially, if we view each piece as teaching the audience (as mentioned earlier in this article), then we can really go about the structure like a lesson plan. With any lesson plan, you need to ensure that the foundation of basic knowledge is addressed and reinforced through the lesson. Establishing these foundational characteristics are key to this goal.

    53. The focus of their re- search has been on the design of interfaces, that space where humans and computers interact

      This is interesting in the lens of rhetoric because the interface is the persuasion and the mode. Each interface is designed with ease in mind with readability, attractive appearance, legibility, information organization, and efficiency of the reader retaining the information.

    54. she argues that more attention needs to be paid to the differences between people and computers.

      The difference she argues for may become more difficult to navigate as people become part of each; we create computer-based existences alongside or completely separate from our human life.

    55. To this end, the marketers are constantly working to build mar- kets and satisfy customers.

      This seems to imply that for this sector of usability research, the potential market has priority. This means that the information could be manipulated for the benefit of a larger market margin.

    56. Writers, document designers, and educators fo- cus on the educational materials that surround a system and on how users employ those aids to help them learn a sys- tem.

      Technical writers focus more on source material; what users utilize to learn a system and what materials are out there to help them.

    57. Like those in human-computer interaction, technical communicators are educated in a number of disciplines, in- cluding English, education, graphics, and technical writing.

      These various disciplines provide a variety in Technical Communication productions. They are not overly focused in "empirical studies" (Professional Communications), but rather focus on analyzing the effective avenues of communicating to audiences

    58. Finding an efficient way to “grade the text” has been a persistent goal, an idea founded on the notion that a text holds the meaning. Writers have looked for a textual measure of quality, and of readability, and of comprehensibility, and of usability.

      Fascinatingly, the humanity roots of Technical Communication professionals seems to create a more liberal way to assert accuracy in a message to an audience. They focus more on case studies that have more philosophical nature of discussing success. As such, they are always entertaining the idea of what grading should be. This spurs the discussion of usability within the community.

    59. eports on a series of interviews that probe how professionals and clerical workers organize the information on their desks.

      Looking at the natural to introduce the manufactured seems to be a common goal of technology. If we study what we reflexively do through daily tasks, such as organization, then it is easy to create a platform emulating these natural habits, putting users at ease. Hence, the Iphone brands itself as :user friendly" by focusing on the same habits to operate the slew of apps available.

    60. ng new and complex approaches to the study of usability, as sure as they have the possibility of becoming a battleground for philosophical disputes.

      Wicked Problems comes to a similar conclusion about cross-field studies. Each person in the group has an expertise and a perception that differs from the other. This effects priorities, study type experiences, and diction decisions. Combining fields allows a wider lens view of issues and potential solutions.

    61. Consider some of the decisions faced by a particular study- how to measure using, what to consider successful, or where in the development cycle to conduct the test.

      Factors such as these would make it to difficult to analyze each manipulated factor is a matter of personal opinion.

    62. The broad view of usability includes so much work that we need to build a framework for the studies. Thus, I argue that we handle the problems by situating a particular investigation in light of its research group, its research ques- tions, its methods, the issues it settles or raises, and its major constraints. The situating will help us fashion a coherent land- scape of usability, a landscape that will help us to assess more cannily what we know about usability and what we need to know.

      This coincides well with the statement I previously made about the difficulties of measuring and analyzing usability with infinite manipulations used throughout technical communication.

      By enacting one specific framework to be used by all technical communicators, it makes it easier to determine usability across the field.

    63. Direct questioning -Surveys -Interviews - Comprehension tests 0 Observation -Informal observation -Laboratory observation -User protocols -Reading protocols -Keystroke records -Computer text analysis -Editorial review -Technical review

      Of the three methods, I would assume that direct questioning and observation would be the most effective. Direct contact with users and instant access to data would make determining usability easier.

    64. The traditional evaluation methods involve a computer or an expert evaluating the product for how well it meets preset criteria.

      According to the text, traditional evaluation methods produce real-time results, in regards to readability and efficiency. They don't, however, answer questions of usability.

    65. Product Development Model With an Example From Test- ing of Documentation- The product development model ad- heres to a pragmatic, engineering model. It focuses on deliv- ering usability information important to the various stages of product development in a timely manner. Because of the time constraints, it normally employs laboratory rather than field studies. Thus, it selects research methods on the basis of how well they deliver the necessary information. Dieli [18] and Lasselle [19] have identified a number of products thkt could be tested at each point in the development cycle- from others’ products and prototypes in the design phase, to storyboards, to documentation modules, and to full product tests. These lists suggest a range of places to test that are new to usability testers who focus on testing completed, or near-completed, products

      The product development model measures usability, paying special attention to each stage of development, maintaining realistic expectations during each stage, and continuously determining the practicality of the product from stage to stage.

    66. The milieu of the cognitive work is the laboratory. Though surveys and interviews may be part of the work, classical experiments or protocols are the mainstays of the research. Informal observation, editorial review, technical review, and field studies are not often employed.

      The cognitive model requires an experiment. Test subjects must use the "product" with researchers watching, who then determine usability through user action.

      My only concern with this method is pre-screening for participants. The provided example involves word processor software. A factor that could impact data would be computer literacy or basic familiarization. Although its a new program being tested, anyone who has previously used a word processor would be more successful at navigating the tested program than someone with no previous experience.

    67. In the field, researchers can learn about the social complexities of use and gain strategies for (1) improving com- munication with users and (2) designing systems that support the natural means of social feedback and interaction.

      The Cultural Model uses user interaction to determine usability. This model seems the most reliable when trying to determine the usability of a program because it connects researchers with the audience. It's easy to assume that the larger an audience a program or website has, the simpler usability has to be.

    68. Product methods are usually linked to product ques- tions, cognitive model methods to user questions, and cultural model methods to milieu questions.

      It's important to recognize the connections between the methods and questions: information processing and questions formed during application or testing, and a person's beliefs connected to how/where they were born or raised

    69. A second means for enhancing product development can come from applying the results of validation research.

      Connecting data and research across technical communicators, in regards to one product, can improve usability. A collective effort among many in the field provides many "solutions" or "resolutions", as we learned in #wickman concerning wicked problems.

    70. More and more people believe that we need to know about “natural use” to know about “usability” and to build more usable systems

      "Natural use's goal is to minimize interference to results and data as close to reality as possible."


      This can be done through observation, and can be extremely helpful when determining usability. Going with the provided example, if users were testing a new word processor, some questions that could be answered include: How easy is the program to navigate? Are the tools and symbols universally recognizable?

    71. What users are the results put to?

      I found this table to be helpful in conceptualizing what needs to be done for a technical writing assignment. Everything is clear and concise, including the projects goals and constraints.

    72. Placing a usability study within both of these frameworks- the contextual setting and the structural setting- helps us under- stand it more reliabl

      Using these two settings of groups, contextual and structural, it will give more structure and organization to figure out the differences between the two different groups. Sullivan state it "helps us understand it more reliably." Also, in Wiclman's reading Wicked Problems he also uses a similar method with controlled groups having two groups similar and different in disciplines.

    73. f we take a broader view of usability, then we must deal with a flood of information, not all of which is ultimately relevant.

      This is true in any form of research, which is losing focus on what is necessary out of the research. But when it comes to technical communicators the focus needs to come back to what will help the audience in the long run, which is something that technical communicators take in for everything that they do.We are here to inform and to teach them.

    74. success at getting started does not imply later ease of use, and testing of a working system in a natural environment has radically different requirements than a test of mockups for a new text design

      The idea of building a framework (later stated) should include the use of multiple test group/subjects within that individual study

    75. how to measure using, what to consider successful, or where in the development cycle to conduct the test

      In order to measure factors such as these there needs to be standards as to what using, successfulness, and where look like/appear as

    76. usability testing of documentation

      How to measure usability:

      1. Heuristic Technique
      2. Defining approach: Availability, sustainability, accessibility, readability.
      3. Wilsons Technique

      Source: http://www.slideshare.net/VidishaB/documentation-usability

  4. Jul 2016
    1. Google’s chief culture officer

      Her name is Stacy Savides Sullivan. She was already Google’s HR director by the time the CCO title was added to her position, in 2006. Somewhat surprising that Sullivan’d disagree with Teller, given her alleged role:

      Part of her job is to protect key parts of Google’s scrappy, open-source cultural core as the company has evolved into a massive multinational.

      And her own description:

      "I work with employees around the world to figure out ways to maintain and enhance and develop our culture and how to keep the core values we had in the very beginning–a flat organization, a lack of hierarchy, a collaborative environment–to keep these as we continue to grow and spread them and filtrate them into our new offices around the world.

      Though “failure bonuses” may sound a bit far-fetched in the abstract, they do fit with most everything else we know about Googloids’ “corporate culture” (and the Silicon Valley Ideology (aka Silicon Valley Narrative), more generally).

    1. One way to do this is to bring someone into the C-Suite whose job it is to keep an eye on culture. The best-known example of this approach is Google GOOG 3.07% , which added “chief culture officer” to head of HR Stacy Sullivan’s job title in 2006. Part of her job is to protect key parts of Google’s scrappy, open-source cultural core as the company has evolved into a massive multinational.

      Interesting that the title would be appended to the HR director position, instead of creating a new position. Stacy Savides Sullivan has been with the Goog’ since 1999, so pretty early in the company’s history. Not sure if her job is specifically with Google or if covers Alphabet more generally. It does sound like Sullivan’s ideas clashed with Astro Teller’s.