World Usability Day

The Real Usability of Healthcare.gov:
Successes, issues, and improvements for this website as an example for all websites whose objective is to capture a broad range of visitors.

When and Where:
Thursday November 14, 2013
9:00-10:30am
15th Floor Auditorium, Compuware building
1050 Woodward Ave. (or One Campus Martius)
Detroit, MI 48226

Brought to you by:
The Michigan Chapter of ACM SIGCHI
The Southeastern Michigan Chapter of STC
The Michigan UxPA

A World Usability Day Event in the “D” (Detroit)
(one of many events that will be held worldwide on this day

Abstract
Usability is vitally important to many areas of the healthcare industry. The user population can broadly be divided into health care professionals, health care administrators, and consumers with no medical training. This talk will outline what is important for these various “user groups”, hone in on what is important for the growing group of “Consumer” users, and do a deep-dive on www.healthcare.gov, which has been in the media for much of this year,

Crescendo-ing…er …“Crash-scendo-ing”…in early October.

This talk will focus on the usability aspects of heathcare.gov. Attendees will walk away with not only a deep understanding of what did and did not work with the site as it rolled out in early October, but with recommendations relevant to anyone who is a stakeholder for a company or organization who needs their website and other customer touch points to be inviting and promote successful use for a very broad range of visitors.

About the Speaker
Dave Mitropoulos-Rundus has made his career designing products to fit people. He has designed physical, visual, and auditory user interfaces for hand-helds, kiosks, web sites, production machines, and automobiles, and has conducted user research in the lab, on the web, in the field, on the phone, in cars, and in the homes of consumers. Dave has held user experience consulting, sales, and management positions in both corporations and in consulting groups including OnStar by General Motors, Eastman Kodak, Compuware, and ForeSee. He is currently the User Experience Architect at Quicken Loans, Principal of Clear Usability, LLC, and Director of the annual Internet User Experience conference.

Schedule
8:30 Check-in opens
9:00 Opening Remarks
9:10 Presentation
10:10 Q&A
10:20 Done

Registration
The registration fee for this event is only $5. You must pre-register online no later than 6:00pm on Tuesday November 12, 2013 (this will allow us to plan numbers, prepare access badges, and coordinate with building security to smoothly get you to the auditorium on time). Register here. Parking We suggest parking in the Compuware parking garage (see map for visitor entrance), which is across Farmer St. (and attached via walkway) to the Compuware building where the event will be held. Parking for up to 2 hours is $10.

Brought to you by
The Michigan Chapter of ACM SIGCHI
The Southeastern Michigan Chapter of STC
The Michigan UxPA

Welcome back!

Written by Tom Glennan

Tom Glennan

As the incoming president of the STC/Southeastern Michigan (STC/SM) chapter, I’d like to welcome all of our members and other technical communication professionals to the 2013-2014 program year. With a new chapter leadership team in place and continued support from many of our long-serving volunteers, I’m really excited and looking forward to the many opportunities and services we plan to offer to the technical communication community in southeastern Michigan.

At our combination “Welcome Back!” program and council meeting on Wednesday, September 25 on the campus of Lawrence Tech in Southfield, all of the chapter officers and volunteer leaders had the opportunity to discuss their goals and plans for the coming year. I gave a brief presentation on my vision for our chapter, which focuses on establishing STC/SM as “our local STC home for networking, education, and camaraderie.” This also happens to be our “tagline” for our website, which is in the process of being redesigned for a fresher look and improved usability (check it out at http://www.stc-sm.org). Specifically, I plan to work with the chapter officers and volunteers to:
• Complete and submit our 2013-2014 budget to STC by October 31 (almost three weeks ahead of schedule)
• Increase membership by 15 percent (not-yet-members, please feel free to help us reach this goal)
• Plan and conduct at least seven program meetings/events
• Complete the launch of our redesigned website
• Revive and implement a scholarship awards program

Our new vice president, Pat Martz, who has also graciously agreed to continue in her role as chapter Webmaster and champion-of-all-things-Web-based, gave an overview of the work on the website that she and Pam Finger, a student in LTU’s technical and professional communication graduate program, have completed and are still working on. We’re all very excited about the work that has been completed to date, and are anxiously looking forward to the improvements that are yet to come.

Mary Jo David, a chapter member whom many of you know as past president (and wearer of various other volunteer hats), has jumped in to help us with our membership recruitment and retention efforts with considerable research and investigation into the needs of our members, and the services, resources and opportunities they are looking for from STC and STC/SM. Mary Jo is also spearheading a new series of informal networking lunches (or breakfasts or happy hours) throughout the southeast Michigan region, and already successfully conducted one such luncheon in Plymouth, Michigan on October 9. More such events are in the planning stages for the near future, so check our website frequently for upcoming dates and locations.

Lisa Veasey, another long-time member who has served the chapter in both elected and volunteer positions, has graciously offered to help with identifying ideas and topics for upcoming chapter meetings and events and working to locate and arrange for speakers on the selected topics. Our first such event is titled “Thinking Outside of the (Pizza) Box: Creative Tech Communication at Domino’s” and will be an interactive discussion of how Domino’s uses innovative and engaging technical communication to promote their many products to their customers. The meeting will be held at the offices of Thomson Reuters in Dexter, Michigan, beginning with registration and networking at 6:30 PM on Tuesday, October 29. Lisa is also working on a host of other ideas and speakers for future events, so keep checking the STC/SM website for more details as they become available.

I could tell you about even more ideas that we have for making STC/SM your “local STC home,” but it would be much more fun to do so in person or one on one. So feel free to drop me a line at president@stc-sm.org or, better yet, plan on attending an upcoming STC/SM program meeting, networking lunch or other event so we can discuss together how to best move our chapter forward.

Looking forward to seeing each of you at an STC/SM event soon,
Tom Glennan
STC/SM President

Chapter networking lunch a success!

Written by Mary Jo David

Six people participated in the first STC-SM networking lunch of the 2013 fall season; this one was held at the Grand Traverse Pie Company in Plymouth on Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, with an 11:30 am start time.

All attendees introduced themselves and talked about what they do on their jobs.  Four are self-employed and two are employees of other companies. The group discussed the need for single-sourcing and content management solutions, and there was also some “tool talk,” mostly about Adobe® RoboHelp®, MadCap Flare®, Adobe FrameMaker® and Microsoft® Word®.

The tools discussion led to discussing the possibility of getting some of the local tool vendor reps to participate in a panel discussion so attendees can compare and contrast tools and their benefits.  Someone also mentioned that it would be beneficial to get power users of some of these tools to participate in a panel discussion or progression meeting so others could learn from their experiences. (The chapter has done this type of program before but it was quite a while ago.)

We discussed some of the benefits of local chapter membership, and the general response was that the most important benefit of a local chapter is face-to-face communication and sharing. For example, local chapters provide opportunities to “talk shop” and discuss with other practicing communicators solutions to the problems and challenges we face on our jobs. (At that point, the discussion took on new energy when a restaurant representative appeared at the table with complimentary, snack-size pie samples!)

Attendees were told that two future networking events are in the planning stages—either lunches or breakfasts or one of each.

Welcome Back Meeting

Written by Sharon McDonnell

On September 25, 2013, STC-SM held its first program meeting of the 2013/2014 season at Lawrence Technological University. The program meeting was combined with a council meeting. All chapter members are welcome to attend council meetings if they desire; most of the attendees who were not council members did not remain for that portion of this meeting.

The meeting combined networking, including attendee introductions, and “State of the Chapter” news. The election results were announced:
• Tom Glennan-President
• Pat Martz-Vice President
• Susan Fisher-Secretary
• Barry Matthews-Treasurer
• Jill Money-Immediate Past President and Nominations chair
• Maryann Bowen-member of Nominations committee

Non-elected council members are:
• Mary Jo David-Membership committee chair
• Pat Martz-Webmaster
• Sharon McDonnell-Newsletter/Blog chair
• Lisa Veasey-Programs committee chair

There are still some positions available for those who desire volunteer opportunities. Contact Maryann Bowen at nominations@stc-sm.org to inquire.

We had scheduled time to discuss the STC Summit held in May 2013, but time did not permit more than a brief mention from Tom Glennan and Maryann Bowen who attended the Summit. Check out past STC/SM blog postings for articles about the 2013 Summit.

We have been working on the events calendar and have some tentative topics and dates to announce. Watch this space for more information and for locations:
• October 9, 2013, 11:30 am to 1:00 pm – Networking Lunch at Grand Traverse Pie Company in Plymouth; contact Mary Jo David to reserve a seat.
• October 23, 2013, 6:30 to 8:30 pm – Council meeting at Lawrence Tech in Southfield
• October 29, 2013, “Thinking Outside the Pizza Box” program meeting, Karen Weldon (formerly of Domino’s Pizza), at Thomson-Reuters in Dexter
• November 27, 2013, 6:30 to 8:30 pm – Council meeting at Lawrence Tech in Southfield

Our programs committee has compiled a list of program ideas and tentative speakers for the entire year, and is in the process of talking with prospective speakers and finding locations. If you have any leads on locations, please contact Lisa Veasey.

Final post from the Summit!

Written by Tom Glennan

As the hectic schedule of another summer starts to wind down, many of us have begun turning our attention from time spent with family and friends during all-too-short vacations and time off from work, to refocus on our technical communication careers and clients. And as I start to think about all my wonderful experiences and memories of the past few months, and the challenges to be addressed during the rest of the year, I can’t help but remember all of the outstanding learning opportunities that this year’s STC Summit provided to me. So I thought I’d pen a few lines and summarize for you most, but not all, of what I experienced in Atlanta (like Las Vegas, what happens in Atlanta…).

In my earlier blog, which I posted midway through the Summit, I spoke primarily about the ideas, comments, and especially the people I was exposed to at Leadership Day (the one-day session that is held before the conference and is intended to provide community leaders with much of the information and training that they will need). It was, as I indicated previously, a fabulous and very valuable experience. It allowed me to hear and discuss firsthand with other community leaders the excitement, frustration, anxiety, and personal satisfaction that we all feel and need to share. Topics ranged from reports from STC International officers and leaders, to discussions on effective community financial management, providing high-value programs and events, mentoring our community members, officers and friends, and increasing the value of STC membership. And my meetings with leaders and members from other geographical communities and special interest groups provided an outstanding opportunity to share ideas about what does (and doesn’t) work, references for available resources, and opportunities to “cry in our beer” together (figuratively speaking, of course). The networking and educational opportunities are high on my list of value-added activities at an event like the Summit, and I intend to use these fresh resources and experiences to find solutions to the challenges we face as a community.

Equally important, though, were the many sessions and vendor demonstrations and seminars that were held Monday through Wednesday after Leadership Day, and I found many topics that I wanted to learn more about. By my count, I participated in 11 different conference sessions ranging from using content management systems, interviewing subject matter experts, using graphs and visuals to convey messages, implementing functional design, and applying the 10 golden rules of global content. I also stopped by the booths of multiple vendors and service suppliers, who offered a wealth of information regarding their products, how best to apply them, and the competitive advantages that they offered. By the way, one of the vendors, Doc-to-Help, provided flash drives loaded with all of the proceedings and papers from the Summit. If you’re interested in reviewing any or all of the materials from Summit, please let me know and I’ll make it available to you.

Finally, I found that another important feature of the Summit was the opportunity to see our STC leaders in action. Their presence at the Leadership Day activities and the annual business meeting held during the Summit, and their remarks and observations in casual conversations and during the closing ceremonies, all helped make STC International’s presence and involvement in our profession a little more palpable. Even though I didn’t agree with everything I saw or heard, their stake and commitment to furthering the best interests of our noble profession are undeniable, and they deserve our continued support.

So will I go to the Summit again next year? I will if I’m able, although I don’t think going each and every year is a “must.” It really depends on what will be offered in future Summit conferences, and what resources or information I’m looking for at the time. But if you have never attended a Summit before, or even if it’s been a while since your last one, I’d start saving up your pennies for 2014. And you might want to take along your golf clubs or tennis racket, and stay a few extra days – next year is in Phoenix, and you know what they say about all work and no play!

Tom Glennan, STC-SM president

Note: The 2013 STC Summit took place May 5-8 in Atlanta GA. The 2014 STC Summit is scheduled for May 18-21 in Phoenix AZ. Visit summit.stc.org for more details.

June 11 MIUPA presentation “Facilitating Humans: The Art of Communication”

News about an upcoming presentation you might be interested in — sent from James Morris, events coordinator for the Michigan Usability Professionals’ Association

Facilitating Humans: The Art of Communication
PRESENTED BY: Caitlin Potts

WHEN: Tuesday, June 11, 6 pm

WHERE: Midwest Collaborative for Library Services, 1407 Rensen Street, Lansing, MI 48910

(See the details at the end of this communication.)

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

Meetings are not a waste of time. There, I said it.

Okay, but they CAN be, right? Believe me, I’ve been in them, myself. However, in the well over 1000 hours I’ve spent attending and facilitating meetings, I’ve learned something. Meetings are not a waste of time. Poorly planned meetings with unclear goals and a lack of shared expectations are. So, how do we stop warming chairs in our conference rooms and start having productive meetings and, I dare say, conversations?

In this talk, I’ll share the nuggets of information that I’ve gleaned over the last 3.5 years of meeting facilitation. These nuggets include how to recognize and prepare for various categories of meetings, why Edward Tufte is my facilitation hero and how information architecture concepts will help you run a better meeting (and have better conversations).

Whether you’re a new usability professional, a jaded meeting attender, or just, well, human, you will be able to take away concepts from this talk that will help you have better conversations and an overall understanding of human communication (which is pretty important for effective meetings).

ABOUT THE SPEAKER:
Caitlin Potts is a user experience practitioner (designer and researcher) at Covenant Eyes, Inc., in Owosso. Working as part of an Agile team, she spends her time collaborating with product owners, stakeholders and developers to design Web, mobile and client application interfaces. She offers her services as a sounding board or sympathetic ear, on a daily basis, and is facilitating the creation of business rules for Covenant Eyes.

She is passionate about understanding human behavior and using that knowledge to craft opportunities for effective communication. She also loves ampersands, great coffee, idea sharing, and her Sharpie collection (63 and counting!).

DETAILS:

Location
Midwest Collaborative for Library Services, 1407 Rensen Street, Lansing, MI 48910
Google Map

Date / Time
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
6:00 PM — Networking
6:30 PM — Announcements
6:45 PM — Speaker
8:00 PM — Wrap up and more networking

Cost
Current students $5
Michigan Usability Professionals’ Association members $10
All others $20
Michigan UPA thanks Covenant Eyes for sponsoring refreshments for this event.

Register
Register online at Guestlist so Michigan UPA knows who’s coming and how to plan for refreshments. Michigan UPA will also take payment (cash or check) at the door. Questions? Email events@michiganupa.org

 

Interactive PDFs Using Adobe Acrobat

Written by Ashley Malone

B Hua at lecternMs. Bei Hua visited Lawrence Technological University on April 16, 2013, to share her knowledge of Interactive PDFs using Adobe® Acrobat®. Ms. Hua has worked with Blue Cross Blue Shield Michigan for the past several years as an eLearning and Web development specialist. Her background includes work at General Motors as well as at Wayne State University.  Lawrence Tech sponsored the event by providing a meeting location on its Southfield campus and supplying a number of prizes for use in the door prize drawing.

The session on interactive PDFs was particularly helpful for the attendees’ own professional growth since almost all of us work with PDFs sometime in our careers. Adobe PDFs are a great resource because almost all computers come standard with Adobe Reader®. This product is also easier to use and more Web friendly than other products on the market.

title slide B HuaSome of the different PDF components we had the opportunity to learn about were converting files into PDF format, navigating through PDFs with bookmarks and layers, linking attachments and multimedia, and creating interactive forms that can be easily saved and transferred to the Web. These tools are instrumental in creating effective communication pieces that are easily understood by an audience.

Ms. Hua’s presentation was very informative and extremely helpful, and the meeting participants greatly appreciated her taking time out of her day to share her expertise at this event.

Hello from the Summit!

Written by Tom Glennan

Hello from soggy Atlanta, Georgia! Daily highs in the mid-40s to low 50s, rain, wind, and morning fog – it must be STC Summit time in Georgia. In spite of the weather, this year’s Summit program has really been outstanding, and the learning and networking opportunities so far have really made this trip worthwhile. So I thought I’d drop a quick note about my thoughts and experiences before starting my Tuesday afternoon sessions.

Sunday I attended my first Leadership Day, and it was definitely an eye-opening experience. As the STC-SM chapter’s incoming president, I’ve been anxious to learn everything I can about the duties and responsibilities of my new office, and compare notes and experiences with the leadership from other communities who attended the event. While it’s apparent to me after hearing some of the speakers and discussion leaders on Sunday (and yesterday afternoon at the business meeting) that the Society and many other communities are facing many of the same challenges and difficulties that we are at STC-SM, it’s also very clear that the leaders I’ve met are up to the task. I was really encouraged by the sense of togetherness that I felt when speaking with others, and the resources that are available to us. Maryann Bowen and I have already talked several times with each other and with other chapter leaders and members. (For example, I had lunch with the Southeast Ohio chapter yesterday, of which I am also a member.) We’ve been putting together our lists of things to tackle and the options available to us as we work to build upon and expand the recent successes of our chapter, while also preparing for the future with new ideas and approaches. We’ll be sharing these ideas with you and with the Leadership Council over the coming weeks and months.

Of course, I’ve also been focused on using my participation at the Summit as an excellent opportunity to learn and apply many ideas for adding new or improved skills and abilities to my technical communicator toolbox, as well as my personal branding and career development. The Summit has been very beneficial and informative, beginning with an excellent case study yesterday on single-source collaboration for developing a training program materials, and subsequent sessions on using content management systems and sharpening my subject matter expert interviewing skills, as well as some sessions with vendors to better understand how to apply their products, And a free newly published book on how to use Adobe® FrameMaker® 11 was the icing on the cake (so far).

Well, I need to catch the progression session on writing and editing, but I’ll send an additional blog posting at the Summit’s conclusion. In the meantime, send me an email (tglennan@twsinfo.com, and no, I don’t do Facebook® or Twitter®) if you have any comments or questions, and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

Tom Glennan
Incoming STC-SM president

An evening about e-learning

Written by Elizabeth Donoghue Colvin

smaller Articulate photoOn the evening of March 26, 2013, STC-SM program attendees were treated to demonstrations of Articulate® Storyline, a software that lets you “create polished interactive courses” and that’s “simple enough for beginners, powerful enough for experts” (Articulate website). At one of the Ann Arbor, MI, Thomson-Reuters offices, individuals representing a wide range of professions – including technical communicators and e-learning specialists and other educators – not only received instructions in how Articulate works but were invited to develop a basic e-learning storyline using the software as part of a hands-on experience while seated at computers.

Leading the program for the evening were Megan Torrance, the Chief Energy Officer of TorranceLearning, an e-learning design and development company located in Chelsea, MI; Matt Kliewer, a TorranceLearning designer who handles special technology projects; and Jeanette Brooks, who spent four years as Articulate Storyline’s e-learning community manager and who is now the Manager of Member Services at the Dexter Wellness Center in Dexter, MI.

Participants either worked on a prepared storyline about how to make candied bacon or chose their own storyline. Either way, they learned the basics about how the software works and heard opinions on how it compares to other e-learning options such as Adobe® Captivate® and Lectora®. They took their presentations home with them on their USB flash drives.

The presenters showed that Articulate Storyline has some easy-to-use features in common with Microsoft® PowerPoint®, including a design tab with pre-made templates and an ease in moving things around on the screen. In addition, one of Articulate Storyline’s strengths is that it allows the user to synchronize the progression of the visual storyline with the audio attached to it by moving things around – including the audio waves – on the screen. In addition, Articulate Storyline e-learning products can be translated into other languages after the entire e-learning course has been built; everything except the images gets translated, even the buttons. Typically, though, the product will need tweaking after translation, because other languages generally take up more space than English does. E-learning products can also be made 508 compliant (accessible to individuals with disabilities).

Program participants also learned that Articulate Storyline outputs can be published to Adobe Flash® or as HTML5. The Articulate Storyline website has information about what to consider when publishing as HTML5, as publishing that way can present some challenges to the user. Articulate can also function as a learning management system: It can host your content and track and report on its use.

The presenters praised Articulate Storyline for the energy it puts into its online community, which includes blogs, forums and the opportunity for peer-to-peer connections with others users. Even when using the free-trial download, users who ask questions get prompt answers. (Click on the Free Trials button on the Articulate home page). Users are also invited to suggest enhancements to features for inclusion in the next version of the software.

At closing, the presenters had some words of advice: One way to learn how to build an e-learning product is to deconstruct one built by someone else. Also, one of the most useful things you can do as an Articulate Storyline learner is to subscribe to the word-of-mouth blog on the Articulate website.

STC-SM appreciates the time the presenters contributed in hosting one of the most well-attended programs in recent memory. We are also grateful to Thomson-Reuters staff, who lent the use of their computer lab and made sure several computers were ready for use that evening.