Featured Article: Picture Perfect: Using Illustrations in Technical Communication

By Samartha Vashishtha, Content and Community Lead, Adobe Systems

Ten years ago, a BBC.com feature1 made a startling observation. It warned that the addictive nature of Web browsing could leave the average human with an attention span of nine seconds—“roughly that of a goldfish.”2 The Internet has only become a bigger and busier place over the past decade, with many distractions vying for our attention every online minute.

Tied to this explosion of information is the challenge that every technical communicator faces—that of engaging her audience and quickly communicating the essential information. For a generation that has grown up on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and devices, anything that resembles a long stream of text is simply not interesting enough2. Visual stimulus has become central to the “experience” of learning, even in printed documents and reference material. Also, visual elements are inherently social media-friendly, helping attract precious eyeballs to the stuff that matters.

This paper discusses how visual elements are an integral part of technical communication in this graphics-savvy, device-crazy world. It also proposes some easy-to-implement strategies to effectively use visual elements in user assistance deliverables.

Read more: Picture Perfect – Illustrations in Technical Communication