Redish, Ginny. “Technical Communication and Usability: Intertwined Strands and Mutual Influences” IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, Vol 53, No. 3, September 2010.

  • In this article, Redish explores how TCers “can continue to contribute to future UX theory, research, and practice through collaboration, through their communication skills, dealing with the reality of ever-increasing complexity in products and processes and dealing with the need to adapt to more rapid change” (191).
  • recaps a few different historical narratives of UX: 1) Usability as human factors engineering (from Lund & Dumas); 2) Usability as a journey in software development (Mayhew); 3) emergent histories from IA & IxD that weren’t around for the TC story or the other two.
  • traces usability in TC to document design usability in the 1970s and even earlier. This might be useful in your own work that attempts to consider the ways that document design (whole) isn’t something that still characterizes TC? (192). She recalls this as the “process-model” that included pre-research, multiple drafts and testing.
  • The process model that R. references was composed of: 1) up-front user analysis; 2) task analysis; 3) context analysis; 4) user-task matrices; and 5) evaluation (193).
  • notes that the 1980s were the first forays into usability by TCers in the context of hardware/software design.
  • This period saw a focus on interface design & usability, leading to: 1) TCers working with words vis-à-vis navigation design, error messages, etc.; and 2) User researchers being a more common position in usability & product design more generally (194).
  • sees TC & Usability continuing to interact in the future because of their shared work in: 1) collaboration; 2) communication; 3) clarifying complexity; and 4) being open to change (195).
  • sees this transition: usability testingàuser-centered designàUX. Seems to me to be an expansion of the rhetorical situation over time (Bitzer, Vatz, Edbauer). SPEND MORE TIME DEVELOPING THIS IDEA. (196)
  • The Little & Big Problem: Little usability = usability testing, Big usability = UX. Little IA = website contents, Big IA = usable websites. Little plain language = short sentences and small words, Big plan language = UX where people can 1) find what they need, 2) understand what they find, 3) act appropriately on that understanding (196).