Search, Browse, Surf: Pick Three and Add Something Extra

The Web provides three basic modes of navigation: search, browse, and surf. Few web sites, and still fewer doc sets do all three well.

The something extra? “Pick three and add something extra” comes from Peter Sheahan’s book Flip, in which he flips the traditional business motto “good, fast, cheap: pick two” into what he regards as the new price of admission for business: “good, fast, cheap: pick three and add something extra.”

With findability being the new price of admission of content, I’d suggest that search, browse, surf: pick three and add something extra is the new standard we have to meet. read more

The Vocabulary of Tasks

Task orientation is one of the most important principles of technical communication. But it is also a more difficult concept than it might at first seem. Part of the problem is the vocabulary of tasks.

When we urge writers to be task oriented, we usually contrast it to a different style, which we often call “feature oriented”, or “product oriented”. We say things like, “write about the task, not the product”, or “stop talking about the product and start working for the user”. All of this can make it sound like it is a bad thing to even mention the product and its features. read more