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President’s Message

STC President Jessie Channey

After a fantastic May workshop on Usability Testing with Brian Traynor, we’re ending the Spring season of STC with a bang! Many thanks to Ruth Maryniuk for organizing this event which was nearly sold out. A special thanks goes out to Victoria Clarke to facilitating the sponsorship of this event by Innovatia. Thanks to Innovatia, we were able to offer steep discounts to our members, and we were able to make a $500 donation to Mount Royal University for Brian’s time with us. We were also happy to see our friends from Edmonton come down to Calgary to take in this great workshop.

In March, we had the pleasure of another big name speaker in the local oil and gas sector; Klaus Hofer gave us a taste of his popular course on Usability Mapping during the March program night which was also well attended. Another thanks Ruth for organizing and to Victoria for recommending Klaus to us. “Safety and Documentation” is ever critical in numerous industries and Klaus gave us several fascinating real-life examples from incidents with Boeing and NASA.

Save the date! We’ve got a hot topic coming up for our September 25 Coffee Night. By popular request, we’re putting together a session for your career in tech com. Stay tuned for more information.

2014 Workshop Success

Thanks to the 20 participants who attended the Usability Testing to Validate Document Design and Information Architecture workshop on May 9th. The general consensus was that people found the discussions and exercises valuable. Our thanks go out to Brain Traynor for an informative session.

STC Alberta wants to extend a huge thank you to Innovatia, who enabled us to offer this workshop to our members at a greatly reduced rate.

As well, we would like to thank the following for their contributions:

  • MadCap Software  for providing us with pens for all participants.
  • Staples and Marty Heron, the General Manager at the Market Mall location, who provided us with a paper shredder to give away.
  • Steve Krug, for providing us with two signed copies of his book Don’t Make Me Think.

We are currently in discussion to bringing back New Heights for next year.  Bookmark the STC Alberta home page for more upcoming programs and events.

Alberta Magazine Publishers Association on YouTube

We are happy to announce that videos from select 2014 Alberta Magazines Conference sessions are now publicly available to view online at any time on the Alberta Magazine Publishers Association YouTube channel.

In his conference keynote address The Return of Print, Andrew Losowsky, internationally-acclaimed editorial expert and current John S. Knight Fellow at Stanford University, presents an inspiring and thought-provoking argument that well-made print magazines have an essential role to play in people’s lives; that, in this digital world, print is not only here to stay, it’s better than ever before.

Jennifer Reynolds, digital media strategist at Reader’s Digest, offers advice on Making Social Media Make Sense for Your Business Media, exploring how social media is a key source of website traffic, an exciting way to showcase your content, and the key to building a community around your brand. She teaches how to create and maintain a social footprint that fits your publication, expands your audience, promotes your brand, and drives more revenue.

Matthew Bates, group creative director at Active Interest Media (publishers of award-winning Backpacker magazine), explains why magazines should be Designing for Readers. Learn how audience research can help guide a redesign process, and how the look of your magazine can speak not only to the readers you have, but also to those you want.

All AMPA members and staff can also access these presentations—as well as past webinar recordings, videos from select seminars and conference sessions, and podcast recordings—by logging in to our website’s Resource Library. Interested in becoming an individual member to gain access to the full archives in the online Resource Library? Learn more about AMPA’s associate individual membership

Alberta Magazine Publishers Association
#304, 1240 Kensington Road NW,
Calgary, AB T2N 3P7
P: 403.262.0081
F. 403.670.0492

STC 2013 Year in Review

The Society for Technical Communication is pleased to publish its 2013 Year in Review, a look back at major initiatives and updates to programming, as well as information on the state of the Society.

The report reviews the past year and highlights the actions taken in 2013 to strengthen the Society, both in terms of the value and satisfaction it provides members and its sustainability as a business. It addresses the change in strategic focus and how this will benefit our members, current programs, and new areas of effort. It is intended to give our members insight and information about the association they have so generously supported. Included in the report are an updated mission statement; details on membership, education, partnerships, communities, publications, and recognitions; and financial highlights.

Join us in celebrating 60 years as a profession.


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Next Coffee Night Thursday, September 25th – Save the Date!

Though our thoughts are likely filled with our summer plans and fall seems a bit far off, when we welcome you all back in September we will be kicking off the events season with a casual coffee night. If you were at our last coffee night you know what to expect, except this time we bring you new speakers and a new topic. So, September come say hi and be prepared for an interesting discussion.

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Coffee Night Thursday, September 25th – Save the Date!

UX, Tech Comm, Superheros

Author: Tanya Mahmutovic, Technical Writer in Calgary

Not too long ago, I was watching an action movie with an incredible cast of superheroes. The protagonists fought to protect innocent people. In fact, the team defended an entire village of innocent women and children from the evil villain that enslaved all men into quarrying the plutonium mines. That is when it struck me, that is what I do! No, I am not a criminal, but actually a superhero. I defend and protect innocent users and readers from the slavery of mining for information! I try to make language simple, so they don’t need to decipher code to obtain the message. I am always looking for ways to add value by providing the right content at the right time, in a format that is meaningful for the reader. Just as those superheroes, I defend their user experience and their right for easy access to information and content. This is exactly what successful technical writers do all the time: we save innocent people from the pit of bad content.

Ultimately, as user advocates or User Experience superheroes, we defend and protect how content is accessed, delivered, formatted, etc. It is always about the user or audience. I quickly scrambled to scribble this idea down, only to google it a couple of days later. My search returned a lot of results that followed the same analogy that I used. In a way, it was bittersweet to see my analogy and metaphor was not original. I knew that there was material that addresses the user experience and user advocacy, buy I did not expect the analogy was already out there. Here are some examples of references to Technical Communicators as superheroes.

Michael Keara’s “Value Oriented UX Design” is the first site that I looked at. The author walks through the user experience evaluation of a website. He explains user experience and the cost of interaction, while emphasizing the value for the end user. He alludes to the fact that providing the right information to the user at the right time adds value. By contrast, making users work by drilling down different layers of your website to access the content does not add value. The goal is for the technical communicator to do all the work, so that user does not have to.

The second site is titled “How to become a UX Superhero”. This page provides a huge selection of useful resources. The slides highlight all the steps on becoming a User Experience superhero. My favourite is step nine: “Love your users (more than your creations)”. There are many reasons to love the slide! Firstly, there’s the innocence of the child cupping his ears. It indicates that we need to have those innocent listening ears to actually hear what our audience is saying.  Secondly, step nine draws our attention to the defensive stance we often take when it comes to the content we create. We really need to remind ourselves that our end-users need to love our creation. They need to perform a task or become knowledgeable to perform their work. It is our goal to enable or facilitate ease of access to the right information at the right time. Basically, for us to provide any value, it is the end user or the audience that needs to love our work.

The best titled blog was “10 Superhero Qualities of a UX Professional” by Danielle Arad.

Superhero agents have a compilation of elements to make up the ultimate power, which is similar for the technical communication  professional, we have tools that makes us superhero – like. We are always the key link between stakeholders and SMEs because they facilitate communication between the two parties.

In one of the STC webinars during the fall of 2011, on the topic of designing quick reference cards, I was introduced to Steve Krug’s “Don’t Make me Think”. This book was also mentioned at the User Experience workshop in November 2013, where three local user experience and user advocate superheroes shared their knowledge. As Steve illustrates, it is in human behavior to take the first available solution, the path of least resistance. Consequently, this fundamental principle should also be applied the human-computer interaction and web usability. This is exactly what Technical Communicators do: they develop material for the end-user. The principle echoes the defense and protection of innocent end-users from the slavery of mining for information.

As technical communicators, we strive to defend our audiences from searching through convoluted content that lacks structure organization, and that is presented in an inaccessible, un-friendly format. We must continuously strive to save time for our users, audience, and readers! Our goal is to provide them with content in the right format, that is accessible, easy to digest, and that adds value to their purpose.


Want to Volunteer?

While STC Alberta is about to take a hiatus for the summer months, we are always looking for volunteers! Volunteering is a great

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involved with your local Tech Communication community, as well as gaining new experience and connections. Currently we have the following open positions:

- Membership Manager

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Head over to for a full list of positions and their descriptions.

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