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After spending seven months writing content and managing development for a new website for GeoEngineers, I was ecstatic when the site launched today.

Taaa-daaaaa! I’m very proud of the end results of my first really big website experience, and even more glad that it’s done at last. (My brain is toast.)

“Done” is relative when it comes to websites, it turns out. When I managed print projects, there always came a moment when they were, in fact, done: printed, folded, boxed and delivered. My print-related friends know how much I loved the tangibility of holding a finished printed product in my hands and examining it. I could assess its successes, learn from its flaws, and call it good.

But websites aren’t finite or tangible, and I am learning that they don’t really wrap up in the same way print projects do. I had already received suggestions for major design revisions and additions before the thing had even hit the street!

Read more about applying print skills to the web →

Another Printing Disasters—and How to Avoid Them story…

Over the weekend I bought an Apple iPod Shuffle to use at my new writer’s desk. I could hardly wait to unwrap it and start using it!

Apple’s industrial design choices were smart and beautiful, as usual. The iPod came in a sweet little clear plastic cube, sealed with clear plastic tape with a subtle arrow that showed me how to unwrap it. Inside the box, the iPod sat on a little tray, beneath which were the earbuds, a USB cable, and a booklet labeled, “start here.”

Every customer action had been thought through, so taking the components out of the box was like unwrapping a specially wrapped gift. Lovely!

I did not love the instructions, though. They were extremely minimal and were set in tiny type. Nowhere in the booklet did it say, “For complete instructions, go to: support.apple.com/manuals/ipod.”

If I need a magnifying glass to read the instructions, they are too small!

Instead—on the very last page—it said, “For important safety and instructional content, see the user guide: support.apple.com/manuals/ipod.” Instructional content? What is that? As usability expert Steve Krug says, “Don’t make me think!”

Read more about not frustrating your audience →

Path? What path?

Three years ago, I quit my job with the aim of landing work as a print production manager in a creative firm again.

There was just one problem: My liberation, the decline of the print industry and the country’s near-Depression were about to collide.

Design firms laid off staff and eliminated print manager positions. My job hunt became disheartening and seemingly endless, interrupted only by welcome independent projects and contract work.

As my many unemployed friends underwent vocational re-training for replacement careers, I wondered if I’d ever have an “ah ha” that would reveal a new path for me, too.
Read more about career evolution →

Another Printing Disasters—and How to Avoid Them story…

I think I’m pretty good at writing instructions. Not long ago when I ordered some items online, I wrote these:

Seems simple, right? But here’s what the shipper wrote on the carton:

Ha ha! Not exactly what I thought I had asked for (but admittedly, it was BIG).

As I recycled the box, I mused about how easy it is to think we’re giving clear instructions when, really, we’re not. And in this electronic era when people communicate face-to-face or voice-to-voice much less often, more weight than ever falls on clearly asking in writing for what we want.

Read more about clear instructions →

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