Overview of Project 2: Analysis of Your Field

This is the post for the July 16, 2014 class meeting.

Many of you have already turned in your first project. If you are taking advantage of the grace period, you should have your work in my midnight in your timezone today (July 16). Today we move on to Project 2.

Class Work for July 16

These are the tasks to complete for today’s work:

  • Talk about the due date and grace period.
  • Go over the assignment for Project 1.
  • Discuss the way design elements are used in technical writing (chapter 7 of Markel).

Due Dates and the Grace Period

It looks as though the due date of midnight in your timezone is working for everyone, so we’ll keep that due date for the rest of the term. The grace period gives you an extra 24 hours if you need it. If you take advantage of the grace period, you have until midnight in your timezone on the day after the due date.

In working terms, Scholar requires me to use 11:55 PM (rather than 12:00). The system will accept your work, though it will be marked as “late” in the system. There is no penalty for being late as long as you get your work in within 24 hours of the due date. The goal of this system is to give you some leeway in case something goes wrong in your world. Use it if you need it.

Getting Started on Project 2

The second assignment is to analyze the different kinds of writing that you will do in the workplace. You will create a list of kinds of writing and the characteristics that apply to them. Think of your audience for this project as yourself. Your goal is to learn about the characteristics of the kinds of writing you will typically do in the workplace. A year from now, if you were in the workplace, you should be able to come back to this analysis to remind yourself of the kinds of features to include in a text you are writing.

Here’s what I want you to do:

    1. Read the assignment completely. Begin thinking about the goals you will set for the assignment and the specific field you will choose. You don’t have to commit to anything until tomorrow, but start thinking about it.

    2. If you have any questions (today or in the future) about the assignment, go to the Questions about Project 2 topic in the forum and add them. You can skim through this topic for answers as well.

Design Elements in Technical Writing

Chapter 7 of Markel, “ Designing Documents & Web Sites,” outlines four design principles that you and use to make your writing clearer and easier to read. The secret to remembering them is to rearrange them into a menomic: CRAP (Contrast, Repetition, Alignment, and Proximity).

As the chapter explains, you can use various design elements like page layout and headings in your documents. The underlying goal for these elements is to help your audience use the document easily by making key information easy to find and making the document easy to read.

The choice of a spreadsheet create for Project 2 demonstrates how design choices can make information more readable and useful to an audience. Spreadsheets (or tables in a Word Processor) are frequently used in the workplace to present information that the audience will compare. For instance, you might create a spreadsheet for benchmarking purposes, to compare different features of competitor’s websites or to compare contractors for a project to find the best choice.

As you read chapter 7, pay attention to the CRAP design principles, the details on designing documents (such as using layout, columns, and typography), and the information on analyzing page designs.

Discussing Effective Design

Because you have different career goals, you will write different kinds of documents in the workplace. It’s highly likely, however, that all of you will use email to correspond with such varied people as clients, coworkers, managers, vendors, and contractors. I have collected several webpages that talk about how to write email messages that we will use today to talk about effective design.

  1. Visit the following pages and look at how they use design principles and strategies to arrange the information. Make sure you scan through the complete information. For instance, the Forbes article will require you to step through a slide show. Your goal is to scan for design. No need to read every word on the pages.
  2. Visit the Analyzing Document Design (email sites) topic in the forums and talk the way the sites use design. There are some questions there to help you get started.

  3. Aim to add two posts: one with your first impressions upon looking at the sites, and a second one that replies to another person in the class. Read through what others had to say, and reply to one or more of the ideas or questions that your classmates have posted.