STC’s Annual Conference, May 6-9 in Nashville

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STC, the Society for Technical Communication, has historically been the home of technical writers. However, STC has seen an influx of members whose interests extend beyond writing, and its Online Information, Information Design, and Usability special interest groups are among the most popular of the society’s 17 SIGs.

This year’s conference at Opryland will provide attendees with a multitude of opportunities to explore and learn more in these areas, including nearly 50 sessions in usability and information design. Some sessions of particular interest are:

Uses and Abuses of Cognitive Theory—Karen Schriver, author of “Dynamics in Document Design,” will examine key tenets of cognitive psychology and their implications for information design.

Squishiness: The Key to Successful Web Design—Lou Rosenfeld, Whitney Quesenbery, and other panelists will look at how complex sites require “squishy” skills in overlapping fields.

Creating Effective User Surveys—Caroline Jarrett, consultant and former speaker on the Nielsen Norman User Experience Tour, provides tips for good survey design.

Creating Effective Home Pages—Ginny Redish, author of multiple books on usability and consultant to, will look at the design of this critical online component.

Knowledge Management: Tackling Your New Role—Keith Instone, who maintains the popular Usable Web site, will take the information architecture perspective on a panel looking at KM.

Boxes and Arrows readers may also be interested in the many sessions offered in other stems such as Tools & Technology, Theory & Research, and Management. And of course, there are good networking opportunities, starting with the welcoming reception on Sunday, the regional receptions on Monday, and the various networking lunches during the conference.

There’s quite a lot to choose from over a three-day period, and the non-member fee of $560 for advanced registration is still a value. For those who want even more, there are also a variety of post-conference tutorials, such as Goal-Oriented Navigation Design for Online Information, with Kevin Knabe (formerly of Apple and CDNOW), Designing Usable Forms for the Web, with Caroline Jarrett, and Understanding Customer Needs, with Kate Gomoll (whose work has appeared in “The Art of Human Computer Interface Design” and “The Macintosh Human Interface Guidelines”).

For more information, visit the STC conference site at Early registration ends April 19th.

Beth Mazur is the founder of the Society for Technical Communication’s Information Design special interest group (ID SIG), author of the ID SIG’s weblog, IDblog and manages web technology for AARP.

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