Newsletter of the Society for Technical Communication, San Francisco Chapter
The November meeting is on Wednesday, November 17, 2004, from 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm at the London Wine Bar in San Francisco's financial district. For details about the meeting location and instructions for purchasing tickets, visit www.stc-sf.org/stc-meetings.htm.
How is being an "information architect" different from being a "technical communicator"? Both consider audience needs, identify information to be included, analyze existing content, determine information structure and organization, and determine how to make information "findable" for users. But for information architects, the work often stops at describing the architecture, rather than developing the content itself, and the deliverables may have names like site map, wire frames, taxonomies, metadata, and controlled vocabularies. For those who are new to IA, this may sound jargony and technical, but there are plenty of parallels in technical communication (think documentation plan, outline, sample topics, terminology list, index entries).
Often someone with the title Information Architect works on developing intranets or web sites. But the IA role is becoming increasingly important in companies with very large documentation sets, especially ones that use structured documentation or content management systems.
In this presentation, Linda will define much of the "IA jargon" you may encounter, and describe techniques and approaches from information architecture that you can apply to your technical information projects (large or small), whether they are online help systems, user manuals, installation manuals, administrative guides, or whole documentation sets.
Linda Urban is an award-winning technical writer, help author, and instructor. She has more than 20 years of experience designing and developing technical information, including online help, user guides, reference information, and training. She also works with writers and teams to improve the quality of their documentation, focusing on both usefulness and usability. Among the courses that she teaches at UC Berkeley Extension are Principles of Information Architecture, Usability Testing for Technical Communicators, and Developing Online Documentation.
Copyright © 2004 by the Society for Technical Communication, San Francisco Chapter (www.stc-sf.org). This article may be reprinted in another STC publication under the provisions of the chapter's copyright policy.