From the Editor’s Desk

Emily Wells

Technical Communicators of Florida and Beyond,

This is it…the beginning of the 2018-2019 STC Florida year! After a successful July Leadership Retreat, where your officers and Administrative Council came up with new ways to help you, our members, get the most out of STC and our chapter. We have some exciting plans in store, which two of our articles delve into this month. So without further ado…

This month’s President’s Corner introduces our new chapter president, Bethany Aguad, who provides a first glimpse at the exciting plans in place for the coming year.

Next, Vice President Nick Ducharme gets us hyped up for our first meeting of the year, a virtual presentation straight from this year’s STC Summit. For more information and to RSVP, read Nick’s article or visit our Meetup page.

Last but not least, Misty Arner presents part 3 of her 4-part series reflecting on another ground-breaking year for our chapter’s student mentoring program.

Well, that’s all from me for now. I hope to see you at the meeting!

Catch you on the flip side,

Emily Wells
Editor, Memo To Members

Get Hyped for This Month’s Meeting!

Cognition, Design, and Usability: Understanding the Minds of Users

Nick Ducharme

By: Nick Ducharme
Vice President
Florida Chapter, STC

I’ve returned, dear friends! Even though my days as editor are now over, it’s my honor to reignite a Vice-Presidential column in Memo to Members. The mission is simple: to share my excitement about each month’s upcoming chapter meeting.

Last chapter year, the monumental STC Summit in Orlando was at the center of our efforts. Now, we’ve shifted our focus to the chapter year ahead. Now, we’re getting back to basics and revisiting our prime directive, which is to provide value to you!

Our new chapter calendar is at the heart of this goal, and we’ve populated it through June 2019 thanks to your help. (Our plans through this December are available for viewing right now.) The overwhelming response to this summer’s chapter survey was beyond even our most optimistic expectations. We are planning our chapter year around the highest-ranked topic categories from the survey, and are also doubling down on making our meetings virtual-friendly. We pledge to deliver relevant meeting topics that not only entertain tech comm practitioners across Florida (and beyond), but also enrich their skillsets and careers. There may even be some tool-centric workshops later this year; stay tuned.

For now, though, let’s focus on August. The people have spoken. Instead of a Washlines-style progression like originally intended, this Thursday’s meeting is taking two categories that received a lot of votes in the survey: UI/UX Design and Document Design. Kirk St.Amant is bringing us a live webinar called Cognition, Design, and Usability: Understanding the Minds of Users. (Click here to RSVP!)

Presenter Kirk St.Amant

Kirk St.Amant was a presenter at the Summit, and our chapter President Bethany Aguad was an attendee at his learning session. She found it quite enthralling. After reading the presentation’s synopsis, I can see why; Kirk entertains through a psychological lens (a personal favorite of mine) and enriches by providing a concrete methodology that attendees can immediately begin applying to their own designs. The official presentation description is below. Enjoy, and I hope you can join us!

Presentation Title:
Cognition, Design, and Usability: Understanding the Minds of Users

Presenter Overview:
Kirk St.Amant
Louisiana Tech University and University of Limerick

Presentation Overview:
Why are some items easier to use than others?  Why can we use certain technologies reflexively, but stumble with others?  And how can we look at a new product and inherently seem to know how it works?  These situations are all a matter of cognition – how the brain identifies, processes, and responds to information.  By understanding certain cognitive workings, technical communicators can create materials to meet an audience’s expectations of usable designs.

In this session, Kirk explains key cognitive factors affecting usability and usable design.  In examining these ideas, Kirk will discuss how technical communicators can use such cognitive factors to guide product design and development practices.  Kirk will also provide strategies for applying these cognitive factors to create more usable materials for different audiences.  The objective is to provide attendees with a cognitive-based method they can use when researching audience expectations to design usable products.

Presenter Bio:
Kirk St.Amant is a Professor and the Eunice C. Williamson Endowed Chair in Technical Communication at Louisiana Tech University (USA) and an Adjunct Professor of International Health and Medical Communication with the University of Limerick (Ireland).  Kirk is also the Director of the Health and Medical Communication Center and the Director of the Usability Research Center at Louisiana Tech University and is on the steering committee for Louisiana Tech’s Visual Integration of Science Through Art (VISTA) program.  His main research interests are in international communication with a focus on globalization and the design of online education and on designing health and medical communication for international audiences.