Let's Tech Communicate

Image of Grant Mackenzie smiling at the camera with a Pidgey on the table in front of him. Photo taken with Pokemon Go

June 2018

This month, Leah Guren explains why the failure of the Great Venezuelan Rabbit Plan is a lesson for all technical communicators. Mikael Cho, Dr Kevin Larson and others explain the science behind why different fonts change the way you feel when reading on the web. Anne Gibson proffers an Alphabet of Accessibility Issues. We discover the Wildcard Cookbook and other tools to finally conquer Microsoft Word. Then, at last, we take out our phones and have some fun with the fabulous Emoji Scavenger Hunt.

Secrets of user compliance – why users ignore instructions

This is one of those wonderful reads that will have you nodding your head and saying Yes, yes, yes. Here is a snippet: "For example, an event I like to call The Great Venezuelan Rabbit Plan appeared in the news last year. President Nicolás Maduro came up with a plan to give baby rabbits to 15 communities. The idea was that rabbits are easy to raise and breed, and could provide an inexpensive source of protein to counter food shortages. After a few months, the minister of urban agriculture visited the communities to see how they were progressing. To his dismay, he found the people had named their rabbits, put bows on them, and brought them inside to sleep in their beds. They had, in fact, turned the rabbits into pets rather than nutritious dinners! In other words, your users don't always do what you expect them to!" Read more...

The science behind the way fonts make you feel

Seemingly small things like font and the spacing between letters can impact how you feel when reading online. The right font choice along with the absence of sidebars and popups makes everything feel easier and better to read. Mikael Cho looks into the science behind this phenomenon. Read more...

Two useful links are the StudioPress recommended Google font combinations, and The aesthetics of reading by Dr Kevin Larson.

An Alphabet of Accessibility Issues

This illuminating and moving read by Anne Gibson raises awareness of accessibility issues our audiences may have and should change your communication habits. For instance: "D is colour blind. Most websites think of him, but most people making PowerPoint presentations or charts and graphs at work do not." Think about that for a moment. Read more...

Conquer Microsoft Word

If you are still prepared to use Amazon after they refused to collect GST for the Australian government, then check out The Wildcard Cookbook. Microsoft Word's advanced search features are extremely powerful, but they're also virtually undocumented. Most explanations of their use have been limited to a simple table of wildcards. This book explains in detail how you can use these powerful tools to blaze through repetitive problems that would take hours to correct by hand.

Download the free ebook Macros for Editors. It contains well over 500 macros that will help with a range of different tasks around writing and editing using Microsoft Word.

Then you might like to try a program add-in from The Editorium. It is a collection of macros that run in Microsoft Word, making it do any number of things it couldn't ordinarily handle, such as finding and replacing multiple items, cleaning up common editorial problems, and extracting embedded footnotes. They claim that you can do in minutes what used to take hours. Check it out at http://editorium.com/.

Emoji Scavenger Hunt

Emma Harding clearly has too much spare time on her hands. She pointed out this entertaining pastime from our friends at Google – the fabulous Emoji Scavenger Hunt. Hint – you open the link on your phone... or get Siri to find it for you!