Indispensable techniques, tools, and tips for techcomm pros
Category: Experience design
My observations on good Design of experiences, engagements, and software. Some tips, how-to, or tools to make life easy by designing our processes and workflows better. May include an occassional rants about bad UX!
It’ll be a cold day in hell, if they stop generating articles after articles on SEO by the minute. Much has been said and it has been put to some great use. The advice I come across most often is to write for the real user! As searchenginewatch.com explains, In SEO, It’s Not What You Do, It’s How You Do It!
I suggest the mantra to do genuine optimization activities and to understand the importance (or lack of it) for any SEO activity is to tell yourself that,
Search engines are just hyper-vigilant end-users!
I decide on SEO tasks, based on this criteria:
If a site visitor does not want it, search engines definitely look down upon it.
Any SEO guideline I look at, fulfills the above criteria. Ask yourself a question, ‘Would an end-user want this?’ and if the answer is yes, then it is a good SEO task to do. How badly would the end-users want it, defines the priority for the SEO task. Some example below.
Would a user want a faster page load time? Yes. Needed sorely. Right now.
Load time of a page/site decides their positioning in search results. See this.
Would a user want the content to be accessible? Yes. The more, the better.
Accessibility indeed helps in SEO tremendously. See this and this.
Would a user like link spam, say from a source you paid money to buy links? No. Users hate to be spammed!
Do not engage in any link building that is nefarious. See this.
Hence the recent move in the industry towards Search Experience Optimization (SEO), rather than Search Engine Optimization. The essence of all SEO activities is to provide the best possible experience to the site visitor. All SEO tactics are rooted in the principles of usability. Optimization for the search engine is just a means to an end.
Edited, May 22, 2015: Even Google officially recommends this approach in as many words! Check out their guiding questions in the section ‘What counts as a high-quality site?’, in the article More guidance on building high-quality sites. “We encourage you to keep questions like the ones above in mind as you focus on developing high-quality content rather than trying to optimize for any particular Google algorithm.“
In Adobe FrameMaker we normally apply paragraph and character formats, and insert variables using the catalogs and the pod, respectively. This typically takes half a dozen clicks for each format. It is slow, involves using both, the keyboard and the mouse, and requires us to focus on what’s happening in the UI. Hey in all these 26 formats that my corporate template uses, where is the second level bullet?! So how does one get rid of all these nuisances? Adobe FrameMaker offers keyboard shortcuts for almost all the commands you know. And then some 🙂
Watch the Captivate demo below to know how to quickly apply paragraph and character formats, and insert variables with the help of keyboard shortcuts. The demo also shows how to design templates to increase their usability, for such usage. Turn on the volume while watching it to listen to the instructions.
Leave a comment below or over at this YouTube page of the tutorial.
I was trying to log into eRoom application in office today and guess where is the OK button you have to click to log in (or even submit e-mail for password recovery).
I am a first time user of this application (now) owned by Documentum. I did not know where to look. They should have thought of the most obvious place where any user would look (i.e. on the right side of or below the radio buttons). Besides the login screen, from what I hear eRoom is a great application!
Where should we put the most important content in a document, options in a software UI, or elements on a web page?
Below is a heatmap of my mouse pointer over 4 hours of general computer usage. It should give you an idea of where I work on my screen (22″ LCD). It would not be much different for other users, doing casual tasks on any which monitor.
A far better (and more scientific) study to answer the question above would be eye tracking. So then why am I talking about mouse heatmap? Not everyone gets to conduct an eye tracking study. My intention behind promoting this is for us to get a first-hand idea of the fact that screen real estate is partially and more importantly selectively used. So use it optimally to communicate.
I think, as writers and communicators, we will (should!) have a big role to play in the design as well. I just heard from a prominent developer that he does not use his product! Of course he can’t. He might as well be using VC++ more than the software he is creating 🙂 But we, writers, are users as well as contributors. We should take this onto us to (constructively!) suggest better design.