Designing technical documentation for tablets

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With more and more people using tablets for reading technical documentation, this webinar looks at how this trend will affect the way technical documents are designed and developed. We'll look at examples of documents that 'work' on a tablet, as well as documents that don't. We'll explore some of the emerging design trends for presenting technical documentation on tablets, and what they mean for Technical Writers. We'll also investigate how tablets, and the technologies contained within then, could be used to improve the User Assistance we provide to our readers. Ellis is Director and Help Strategist at Cherryleaf, a technical writing services and training company based near London, in the United Kingdom. He has over fifteen years experience working in the field of documentation, has a BA in Business Studies, and is an Associate of the Institution of Engineering and Technology. Ranked the most influential blogger on technical communication in Europe, Ellis is also an author and editor of two books: How to Write Instructions and Trends in Technical Communication.


  • 1. Designing technical documentation for tablets Ellis Pratt | Director | Twitter @ellispratt | | ellis@cherryleaf.comMaxwell Hoffmann | Adobe Product Evangelist | Twitter @maxwellhoffmann | 2012 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. Adobe Confidential.
  • 2. About Adobe Founded in December 1982 74 Offices in 43 Countries $4.2 billion in revenue in FY2011 Corporate Headquarters in San Jose, California More than 10,000 employees Adobe donates a minimum of 1% of net income to philanthropy We simplify complicated, inefficient, and expensive workflows. We enable more engaging, compelling content. We drive greater return from digital media and marketing investments. 2012 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. 2
  • 3. About Maxwell HoffmannMaxwell Hoffmann Product Evangelist, Tech Comm Suite Former Product Manager and Sales Training Director for Frame Technology 15 years in translation industry, working on whatever documents walked through the door Trained over 1,200 people in hands-on, scalable publishing solutions 2012 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. Adobe Confidential. 3
  • 4. About our Guest Thought LeaderEllis Pratt Director and co-owner of Cherryleaf Based close to Londons Heathrow Airport Working in Technical Communications since circa 1996(!) 2012 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. Adobe Confidential. 4
  • 5. Designing technical documentation for tablets Adobe Webinar Ellis Pratt Cherryleaf
  • 6. What well cover1. About me2. What makes tablet devices different?3, 4 & 5. Three uses of tablets, from atechcomms view6. A SIMPLES strategy
  • 7. 1. About me
  • 8. Director of CherryleafUK technical writing servicescompanyMy experience is of technicalcommunication in: UK and Europe IT & medical equipment QuickTime and a decompressor are needed to see this picture.Workshops on writing for Web-based apps, iPads & DITA
  • 9. 2. What makes tablet devices different?
  • 10. What well coverThe competitorsWhy are tablets popular?We need to abandon some assumptions
  • 11. The competitors
  • 12. Why a tablet?Intuitive to use (almost)Long battery lifePortabilityBring Your Own DeviceRetina screenWeightAlways on
  • 13. We need to abandon some assumptions
  • 14. The screenRetina displaysGreater contrast on screensCloser to paper than ascreenTablet screen sizes candiffer
  • 15. Abandoning AssumptionsThe TOC must be onthe leftScrolling vertically isbetter Michael Campbell
  • 16. Abandoning Assumptions As designers, we tend to think that people start atthe top left and just move left to right and down thepage.But research shows that isnt what happens.People are attracted primarily to contrast, which isone of the key visual principles that has been studiedby researchers again and again.Contrast is created by differences in light and dark,thick and thin, big and small.For example, headings that are bolder than the text, Karen Schriverpictures that are big in relation to small pictures.
  • 17. Can we use printcomposition theories? Kress and Van Leeuven
  • 18. We can do things differentlySome print compositiontechniques now work onscreenWe can use a horizontal,paper metaphorRight-sided navigation isnow possible
  • 19. We can do things differentlyDeep learning onscreen is now possible
  • 20. Its hapticDevice can vibrateDevice can be aware of userslocationYou can pinch and zoom toview some content
  • 21. Three uses of tablets,from a techcomms viewMobile appsMobile webMobile documents
  • 22. 3.Mobile apps
  • 23. Smaller, more focused appsOften familiar to userTouch terminologyFirst user Help
  • 24. App abandonmentMany used only 3-4timesHelp moves to theproduct descriptionFirst user interactionHelp
  • 25. Limited traditional online HelpLeave the app to read HelpLimited help toolsAdvice from AppleNo settled standards
  • 26. We need Help, but not as we know itFlow-based UserAssistance
  • 27. Flow-based User AssistanceDont break the usersflowGuide and pre-empt= Help is embedded inthe product
  • 28. Flow-based User AssistanceAssistance is providedin contextIts aware of the userssituationCan advise on a goodchoice
  • 29. Apples Help patentApril 2012
  • 30. Apples Help templates Carousel view Shake to change 3D Zoetrope
  • 31. Gallery of Help
  • 32. 4. Mobile Web
  • 33. Web-based appsUsually requires aconnection to the internetCan look like an app onthe desktopOr accessed via thebrowser
  • 34. Web-based appsYoull still have: Retina screen Portrait and landscape mode Touch and haptic interactions when HTML5 is adopted
  • 35. Web-based appsYou dont need to learnObjective C
  • 36. So is there Help in Web-based apps? There is lots of Help,(under different names) It is embedded in the applications H/T Briana Wherry, Alfresco
  • 37. Social HelpThere is a socialelement Co coaching Social proof H/T Brian Wherry & Robert Cialdini
  • 38. 5. Mobile documents
  • 39. Types of mobile documentsElectronic Flight BagStudent text booksMagazinesOperations manuals
  • 40. Two competing modelsFormat and content Publishing are inseparableFormat and content Technicalare separate issues Publications
  • 41. 2 competing models Were about to usher in a golden age of PDFs on the iPad. Paul Ford @fttrain via Karen McGrane
  • 42. PDFs work wellRead in Adobe ReaderiBooks, etcCan pinch and zoomLarge file size?
  • 43. EPUBFormatting can be an issueTablesImagesVideos must be .mp4 (mv4) format
  • 44. EPUB in the future?Embedded fontsCSS3Nested tablesBoxed elementsSVG graphicsText popupsFixed layouts
  • 45. HTML5You can save pages offlinein theory
  • 46. What about mediums for structured content? HTML5 may be your best bet
  • 47. 6. A SIMPLES strategy
  • 48. A SIMPLES strategyScaleable (to different sizes)Intuitive to the userMobile-friendlyPlatform-agnosticLegalese (right for the platform)Engaging (to the user)Single sourced (re-usable,extensible content) H/T Keren Okman, SAP
  • 49. Summary
  • 50. Plus a change(plus cest la mme chose)?User Assistance will still be there, but indifferent placesWell need to deliver content on differentdevices, in different formatsWell be using some new (old) designmetaphorsHelp Authoring tools and HTML5 will solve alot of the problems we see today
  • 51. Blatant plugsQ4 Workshops on writing for Web-based apps,iPads & DITAFree monthly
  • 52. For more information
  • 53. Questions?
  • 54. End(c) Cherryleaf 2012
  • 55. Upcoming Adobe TechComm Webinars Content Scenarios for Exploring New Information Products, Joe Gollner, 27 June Find Out How to Write XSLT Statements for XML to XML Transformations in a 5-part eSeminars Series, 28 June to 19 July, Tom Aldous Expand Your Content Reuse Potential through Indirect Addressing: Using @keys-based Referencing in DITA 1.2 Nancy Harrison, 11 July Are You Tempted to Use a Template to Expedite Policies & Procedure Development? Raymond Urgo 12 July Are you struggling to create long, complex documents with Microsoft Word? There is a much easier way! Tom Aldous, 13 July Part II: Creating an Accessible Layout Tips to make documents more accessible (structure, colors, fonts, more) Char James-Tanney, 17 July, Part III: Developing Accessible Content Tips on grammar, paragraph, and sentence length, alternate text, and more Char James-Tanney, 31 July Calendar of upcoming eSeminars: 2012 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. 55
  • 56. Questions and Answers 2012 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. 56
  • 57. Contact Information Information Ellis Pratt Blog Cherryleaf Twitter Email Web Maxwell Hoffmann Blog Adobe Systems, Inc. Blog Product Evangelist Twitter Email n mhoffma Web LinkedIn Facebook maxwell.hoffmann1 Facebook As Adobe Technical Communication Professionals Group Calendar of upcoming eSeminars: Previously recorded eSeminars: 2012 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. Adobe Confidential. 57