I am a seasoned veteran of the technology industry, with nearly two decades of experience in a variety of roles. All have stressed a commitment to clear, concise, and compelling documentation. This portfolio provides samples demonstrating the range of my corporate writing responsibilities, including examples of the following:
- Technical writing samples
- Design specifications
- Usability reports
- Corporate training materials such as manuals and pattern libraries
Prototyping provides a powerful mechanism for soliciting user input on a design without the expense of actually having to implement it. As a designer at Fireman’s Fund insurance company, I worked extensively with an application called iRise that made it easy to quickly assemble high-fidelity, interactive prototypes. I became our department’s expert in working with iRise, and created a cookbook-style manual of “recipes” targeted towards accomplishing specific tasks with the application.
A design pattern is a general repeatable solution to a commonly occurring design problem. Patterns are a key component in standardized design. The more consistent a company’s applications are, the better and more predictable the user experience.
As a designer at Fireman’s Fund insurance company, I used the corporate style guide to develop HTML and CSS snippets documenting various design patterns, and built a companion website to present them to internal stakeholders.
Policy Administration System Usability Study
Usability is a testing process in which users perform real-world tasks using working software or a partial prototype. While at Fireman's Fund, I was responsible for designing and implementing a usability program. The following document is the usability report from the pilot study.
AutoCAD Plant 3D Validation
Autodesk is a software company best known for its flagship product AutoCAD, which serves as a base application for specialized products that target specific industries. Standards are extremely important in most of the industries served by the AutoCAD product suite, and this was especially true of AutoCAD Plant 3D. AutoCAD Plant combined a simple application for creating two-dimensional schematic representations of a larger physical plant, combined with a sophisticated 3D modeling application. The product shipped with a huge catalog of industry-standard parts such as pipes, pumps, and valves, and also gave users the ability to create their own custom parts.
Whenever users are provided a way to customize an application, they are provided with a mechanism for breaking standards. It is critically important that this not happen in a physical plant. The Validation feature provided users with a mechanism to identify and correct standards violations in their project drawings.
AutoCAD Plant 3D Test Drive
Autodesk takes product usability very seriously, and solicits user feedback throughout the product development lifecycle. One of the final tests typically conducted prior to shipping a product was the test drive, during which users ran through a series of exercises using the application in order to identify any potential show-stopping usability issues. The following document features several exercises I wrote for the Plant 3D test drive.
Blueprints are the primary document of record on architectural and engineering projects, and the process of printing them out is referred to as plotting. Drawings are typically printed out in large formats to improve legibility, and a huge assortment of plotting devices have traditionally been used. The AutoCAD 2000 release unveiled a powerful new plotting feature that exposed many new capabilities, but the increased power came at the cost of usability. As a designer on the 2004 release, I was responsible for researching existing plotting issues and coming up with a design to address them.
AutoCAD Database Connectivity
AutoCAD is the industry-leading design application used by architects and engineers the world over for creating a multitude of objects in our everyday world: the buildings that we work in; the roads that we drive on; and the cars that we drive. I was a lead technical writer on the AutoCAD 2002 release, and responsible for documenting a new feature that allowed drafters to associate database records with drawing objects. The feature also provided an integrated user interface for querying that data, highlighting associated drawing objects. An example use case might be a facilities manager using the feature to accomplish tasks such as the following:
- Link data to individual rooms, such as employee and departmental assignments, room types (office, conference room, etc.), and vacant offices
- Highlight all rooms assigned to a given department
- Highlight all conference rooms in a building
- Edit records after reassigning offices during departmental moves
AutoCAD 2002 was developed during a time when the Internet was exploding in popularity, and companies were scrambling to integrate functionality into their products to leverage its power. One of the great boons of the Internet age is how it tremendously facilitates collaboration, allowing users from disparate geographical regions to share and edit resources in real-time. It is easy to forget that prior to the Internet, collaboration often required significant delays. One partner would complete work, which would then have to be mailed or couriered to another partner to review and make further edits, and then mailed back to the initial partner in an ongoing loop. The Internet made it possible to dramatically speed up this process, resulting in significant savings in project time and spending.
I was lead writer on an AutoCAD Internet feature aimed at streamlining and improving collaborative workflows. Some key components of the Internet feature included:
- Ability to open and edit drawings in AutoCAD stored on the web
- Ability to externally reference a child drawing stored on the web into a local parent drawing
- Ability to publish a light-weight, non-editable drawing file that could be shared with others while protecting proprietary intellectual property
- An eTransmit feature that allowed users to create a transmittal set that bundled one or more AutoCAD drawing files with all associated files into a compressed transmittal set