What is the User’s Experience?

Evaluation is a key element of any great communication effort. Surveys and focus groups bring great information, yet the most enlightening results can be achieved by watching your users actually use your communication vehicle to get the information they need. Learn how to plan for and carry out successful usability testing for your key audiences. Consider how you can incorporate usability testing to discover how you can improve your user’s experience. Hear about a case study from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and how they incorporated usability testing with the health care providers who use their provider manuals to reveal surprising results.


Join us on September 20, 2016:

  • When:  6:30–8:30 p.m.
  • Where: Omni Building, 26899 Northwestern Hwy., Southfield, MI

We will be in the Emerald Conference Room, on the first floor. Enter at the north entrance, check in with Security, and they will direct you to the conference room next door.

The costs are:

  • Free for students with ID
  • $10 for members, employees of BCBSM, and members of sister organizations (UXPA, CHI, and ASTD)
  • $20 for non-members


Photo of Catherine Vera‐Burgos
Catherine Vera‐Burgos
Manager, Provider Communications
Provider Outreach Department
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan

Catherine Vera‐Burgos is the manager of Provider Communications at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a position she has held for 15 years. In this role, Cathy manages a team of professionals who create communications for health care providers, including: provider manuals, newsletters, websites, e‐learning opportunities, letters, and brochures as well as internal communications for employees who serve providers. Cathy also has experience in the nonprofit field as a program developer and grant writer. Cathy has a Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications from Wayne State University where she is working on her Masters in Public Relations and Organizational Communications.

Photo of S. Dansby
Sherri Dansby, MBA, PRC Market Research Manager
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan

Sherri Dansby has many years of research experience and is currently a Market Research Manager at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, managing quantitative and qualitative studies. She is responsible for research design, execution and insight generation, with a focus on health care providers. Sherri also has research experience in automotive, retail and consumer products. Certified as a Primary Research Expert by the Market Research Association (MRA), she has also served as MRA—Great Lakes Chapter president. Sherri has a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and English Literature from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and an MBA.


Security requires a list of attendees before the meeting, so please let us know that you will be coming. Questions? Email us.


We have had two reports of extraneous characters showing in the email address when clicking the links above. This seems to be a browser bug. If you run into trouble, try Firefox or email our president directly from the Contact Us page; she will add you to our guest list.

April 21 Program Meeting: Using Brainshark to boost provider communications and training

Join us for our April 21 program at 6:30 p.m-8:30 p.m.

Location: Omni Building – 26899 Northwestern Hwy., Southfield, MI. Emerald Conference Room, first floor; enter the north entrance, check in with Security and they will direct you to the conference room next door.

The program “Using Brainshark to boost provider communications and training” will share the presenter’s expertise and sample works on how to use the web-based presentation tool Brainshark for various communications and training purpose, in order to maximize target stakeholder – provider experience.

Join us to learn:

  • Why Brainshark?
  • The history of Brainshark in BCBSM
  • What do we use it for? And samples
  • A quick process: how does it work?
  • Guestbook, survey and assessment
  • Tracking and Reporting

Register Now

For questions, contact programs@stc-sm.org


Bei Hua,
Senior Instructional Designer,Bei
Project Lead

Bei is a Project Consultant at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. She specializes in eLearning design, development and project management. Prior to joining BCBSM in 2005, she was a learning consultant for General Motors University for five years. She has delivered over 50 online training courses herself. In addition, she has been involved in more projects with her design and project management roles.

Bei believes in selecting communications and training tools, designing and developing products centered around the user. She is familiar with various development tools used for creating online communications and training. She emphasizes the importance of good planning, research and overall program design.

Bei earned her Bachelor’s Education degree in China, Master’s in Educational Administration from Eastern Illinois University and her Educational Specialist Certificate from Wayne State University in Instructional Technology.

March 10 Program: Why Tech Writers Have the Potential to Become Great Business Analysts

Join us for our upcoming March 10 program on Why Tech Writers Have the Potential to Become Great Business Analysts.

Washtenaw Community College
Liberal Arts building
Room LA376

Thursday, March 10

Networking and light refreshments at 6:30pm, program 7-8pm, closing remarks 8-8:30pm.

Register Now
Questions? Contact programs@stc-sm.org

Program Overview:

  • Describe the roles and tasks that people perform to develop and maintain software
  • Describe the skills that Business Analysts (BA) and Technical Writers share
  • Describe BA skills and processes that may be new to some Technical Writers
  • Prepare you to work with Business Analysts and perhaps transition into a BA position

About the presenter:
Christine Pellar-Kosbar is an Information Services Analyst at Arbor christineResearch Collaborative for Health. She currently writes requirements and test plans for applications that allow researchers to study rare liver and kidney diseases. Over the last twenty-five years, she has written technical documentation of all kinds, taught technical writing, and analyzed business systems in non-profit and corporate settings.


Recap: Multi-Chapter STC webinar

If you weren’t able to attend the Feb. 2nd Multi-Chapter Techcomm Showcase, by the Rochester, New England, and Southeastern Michigan Chapters of the Society for Technical Communication, check out the information below.

Topics included:

  • Audience-specific Content using FrameMaker
  • Know Your Users: Improving Learning Content by Connecting with Users
  • Best Practices in Using Social Media for Your Business (View the PDF)


Listen to the recording of the presentation


STC Multi-Chapter Techcomm Showcase, February 2nd

Join us on Feb. 2nd for our Multi-Chapter Techcomm Showcase, brought to you by the Rochester, New England, and Southeastern Michigan Chapters of the Society for Technical Communication.

Each chapter is providing a speaker for the event who will provide a brief presentation and a question and answer period.

Speakers and Presentation Details
Audience-specific Content using FrameMaker

Bernard Aschwanden, STC President, works with clients to improve content creation, management and distribution workflows to improve quality and increase productivity. He is the founder of Publishing Smarter, an Associate Fellow of the Society for Technical Communication, and President of the STC, Bernard has helped hundreds of companies implement successful publishing solutions. Bernard is focused on publishing better, publishing faster and publishing smarter.

Know Your Users: Improving Learning Content by Connecting with Users

As a learning content developer for a technical writing team at Autodesk, Patty Gale is involved in many aspects of the design, development, and production of learning content for 3D modeling software. A technical communicator for over 25 years, Patty has worked at businesses all sizes, from small start-ups to large corporations. Whether the sole writer or part of a larger team, Patty enjoys learning new technologies and determining the most effective way to share important information with users. She has received multiple awards from her employers and STC competitions, including an International Award of Distinguished Technical Communication. Patty holds Bachelor’s degrees in Computer Science and Business Management.

Best Practices in Using Social Media for Your Business

Angel Belford is a communications professional with over 10 years of experience in writing, editing and content management. Currently, Angel is the Web Content Administrator at Lourdes University managing all online content and the company Intranet. Prior to her current position she worked at FOX Toledo, a local news media organization, overseeing the Internet department, social media and the internal content management system. Angel was a technical writer at La-Z-Boy, holding this position for several years while creating documentation including user and administrator manuals, quick reference cards, and online manuals. She has developed/maintained several types of digital and print documentation including: quick reference cards, websites, forms, user guides, training manuals, diagrams and newsletters.


Meeting Details

STC member $10.00
Non-member $15.00
Student $5.00

6-7 PM Networking
7-8:30 PM Presentations
8:30 PM Wrap-up

This multi-chapter STC educational event is offered virtually as well as in person. (Remote attendees will receive access information during the week before the presentation.)

Lawrence Technological University
21000 West Ten Mile Road
Southfield, MI  48075-1058
Room TBD
Walk-ins are welcome.

Virtual Attendance Option
If you’re not able to attend in person, you are welcome to attend virtually through Adobe Connect.

RSVP: Register by Friday noon, January 29th. For questions or late registration, please contact programs@stc-sm.org

Program Meeting: TechSmith Wednesday, October 14

Attend our October program meeting and leverage the power of image and video in your communication. In this session, Andrea Perry and Matt Pierce will introduce several ways images and videos can be used to improve internal communication, documentation, feedback, and more. Once they’ve got you thinking about how you can incorporate visuals into your own work, they’ll show you how Snagit and Camtasia can be used to quickly and easily create what you need.

Wednesday, October 14
Washtenaw Community College (room LA 372)
4800 E Huron River Dr, Ann Arbor, MI 48105
6:30 PM – 8:30 PM

Driving directions
Campus map
Room locator

Free for students with ID, $10 for members and $20 for not-yet-members.

Continue reading “Program Meeting: TechSmith Wednesday, October 14”

Awards Dinner and Networking June 10

We will convene at Station 885, which is at 885 Starkweather Street in Plymouth, from 6:30–8:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 10, for food and talk.

We will be also be distributing awards to our hardworking volunteers for the 2014–2015 Program Year, and recognizing our Immediate Past President, Tom Glennan, recipient of this year’s Distinguished Chapter Service Award.

There is no entrance fee, but everyone will be responsible for their own dinner and drinks. Ask the host to be directed to the STC/SM table.

Please let us know you are coming.


“And Now for Something Completely Different!”

…well, not completely, but a little different for us. After our program postponement due to weather in November and our holiday mixer with area usability folks in December, we will resume our chapter programs and networking in February. To prepare, we’d like those who can to view any of the following STC webinars in the comfort of their home or office. Then join us to discuss these and meet others at the February networking event. Check our calendar for the date, time and location.

The free webinars are only accessible to STC members, and we welcome members and nonmembers alike to attend our programs. So, between now and our February program, we’d like to encourage members to post webinar summaries on this blog so they’ll be viewable by all who want to join us in February.

The webinars can be accessed here. They include:

  • 10 Most Common Misconceptions About User Experience Design, presented by Whitney Hess
  • Sketching User Experiences with the Design Studio Method, presented by Brian Sullivan
  • Essential UX Skills for Technical Communicators, presented by Will Sansbury, Rachel Peters, Yina Li
  • From TechComm to UX: Are You a Designer, presented by Kristi Leach


World Usability Day in the D

User Experience, Usability, and the Value of Simplicity in Design, is an International World Usability Day Event brought to you by the Michigan Chapter of ACM SIGCHI, Michigan Chapter of UXPA, and by us, your local STC chapter.

The Talks

  • User Experience Across Industries
  • Usability 2.0: Beyond the UX Lab
  • UX and the Auto Industry
  • The Demand for Simplicity in Design
  • The Future of UX: A Common Language Across Brands and Products

The Presenters

Come to learn, get inspired, network with colleagues, make new friends, and get fed with a UX firehose!

Register ahead for $10, or register at the door for $20.

Submissions for Ignite UX are open; deadline is 9/25

Ignite UX Michigan is looking for talks on user experience-related topics in the Ignite format — short, tightly focused talks with 20 slides that advance automatically every 15 seconds, for a total of 5 minutes.

This event happened for the first time last fall, and the organizers are doing it again.

If you participated last year, you know. If you did not, we encourage you to consider.

Click here for details and contacts.

Click for more information on Ignite UX Michigan and on Ignite UX sponsors.