Pradeep Henry speaking to UNISYS technical writers worlwide
SITUATION: Technical writing was perceived as a siloed profession and practitioners’ potential was not fully utilized
EFFORT: Created a software usability driven method to coordinate content in manuals, help, messages, and labels; shared the method through international publishing
INNOVATION: Created a new method for technical writing called User-Centered Information Design or UCID. UCID requires the integration and streamlining of all the four information elements that software users interact with: printed manuals, online Help, application messages, and user interface labels. All elements work together and serve the new goal: better software usability.
BOOK: Published "User-Centered Information Design for Improved Software Usability" in the US. The book repositioned technical writing for a prominent new role. It garnered enough interest in the US that the rest of the initiative comprised responding to invitations to write articles and give speeches.
OUTPUTS: 1. Method. 2. Book. 3. Articles.
VALUE FOR USERS: Coordinated content helped organizations use software more effectively and efficiently
VALUE FOR VENDORS: Tech companies possibly performed slightly better; UNISYS USA taught the new method to its technical writers worldwide
SUCCESS: Technical writing was valued as a profession that can improve software usability
Published by Artech House, USA in 1998
Based on experience working in IBM's projects (thanks to Dave Parmacek, Sweden) and based on a UC Berkeley course in usability (thanks to Richard Anderson, USA), Pradeep Henry came up with a new approach to technical writing called User-Centered Information Design or UCID. UCID requires the integration and streamlining of all the four information elements that software users interact with: printed manuals, online Help, messages, and user interface labels. Integration and streamlining ensure that all the information elements work together and serve the new higher goal, which is better software usability (old goal: better document quality). IEEE book reviewer Whitney Beth Potsus says, "technical writers play such important, valuable roles in the UCID process."