In pursuit of the ultimate techCom information architecture
Research has shown that most people avoid using the traditional book-like manual, whether it’s on- or offline. Researchers have provided a number of explanations to why this is the case. One common explanation is that users avoid manuals since they perceive them to be difficult to search.
In response, many technical communicators are exploring innovative new ways to design and deliver user assistance to make manuals more user-friendly. To make the manual an option for the user, we need to make answers easy to find.
Self on Help
There has been some renewed discussion within the DITA Technical Committee on what it means to be "DITA conformant". It is timely that this topic has been resurrected, because many Help Authoring Tools are now claiming DITA support of some sort or another. A draft clause in the DITA 1.2 specification proposes that tools claiming DITA support must provide a conformance statement listing what DITA features they actually implement.
Self on Help
It has been a few months since the DITA Help sub-committee of the DITA TC was formed, with me as chair and Stan Doherty as secretary. Murphy's Law has seen to it that I have been flat out busy ever since, and I haven't had the chance to put some heavy work in yet. One of my roles is as a lecturer at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne. We are moving the Graduate Certificate in Technical Communication programme online next year (2008) through Open Universities Australia. I have been co-ordinating this project, and that has been all-consuming.