Technical communication is meant to be used and not just read. As a result, good technical communication delivers information to an audience who will act on that information in a variety of ways. For instance, the audience might use the information to make hiring decisions, follow technical procedures, develop research plans, and countless other things.
In this assignment, you will evaluate the usability of a piece of technical communication. You will analyze whether the document effectively communicates the necessary information to its audience. In addition to areas where the document succeeds, you will also point to areas where the document fails to effectively communicate the necessary information to its audience
Your completed analysis should demonstrate that you grasp the basic principles of technical communication discussed in the first chapter of Technical Communication. To shape your analysis, consult the following analysis points (discussed in the “Characteristics of a Technical Document” section of Chapter 1):
- Addresses particular readers
- Helps readers solve problems
- Reflects an organization’s goals and culture
- Is produced collaboratively
- Uses design to increase readability
- Consists of words or graphics or both
Use these characteristics to organize your analysis. Be sure that your analysis addresses each of these six areas.
The text offers you three (brief) examples of how to analyze sample documents to demonstrate that their elements constitute a form of technical communication. Although this assignment asks you to create a more developed analysis, the examples should help you understand the assignment.
There are three steps to this assignment:
- Choose one (1) of the three (3) pieces of technical communication linked below. You may choose one of the following: an application, a brochure, or a guide.
- Evaluate your chosen document for usability. This will involve reading the document carefully, and paying attention to the features that enable use. (In other words, how did the author structure the document so that readers could access and use the information effectively and efficiently?) Again, consult the analysis points above.
- Write a memo to me that organizes your rhetorical analysis in both a logical and convincing way.
- Be concrete in your analysis. Use specific examples from the document as you make your key points.
- Be sure to analyze and not just describe the document. This will require you to evaluate—and pass judgment on—both content and design.
- Be sure your analysis is well organized.
Your analysis should be 2 single-spaced pages (approximately 1000 words). Therefore, you must be as concise as possible. However, don’t mistake brevity for superficiality.
Your memo will be evaluated according to the following criteria:
- Completeness: The analysis addresses all of the characteristics of technical communication.
- Organization: The analysis is well organized. It has a clear structure supported by headings.
- Support: The analysis is concrete in that it uses examples from the document to support major points.
- Interpretation: The analysis interprets, analyzes, and makes a claim – it does not just describe.
- Style: The analysis is well written. Topic sentences are clear.
- Finally: The analysis demonstrates that you have learned about the basic elements of technical communication.