NEO-STC Presents Become a Strategic Communicator

STC Associate Fellow David Caruso will be NEO-STC’s first speaker of the new program year.

In this virtual presentation, Caruso will encourage us to think more from a business point of view so that we can feel more appreciated for the tasks we perform.

If you happen to be in the Cleveland area that evening, you could attend in person, but the rest of us in SE Michigan can attend virtually. For more information, and to register, go to NEO-STC’s registration for the program, Become a Strategic Communicator.

IUE Conference is Back in Ann Arbor

IUE2017 will be at the Morris Lawrence Conference Center, on the east side of Washtenaw Community College’s campus on the eastern edge of Ann Arbor. The conference runs from 1 pm on Monday, April 24, through 5 pm on Tuesday, April 25. Peter Morville will give the opening keynote presentation, and Stephanie Rosenbaum will give the keynote presentation on Tuesday. Continue reading “IUE Conference is Back in Ann Arbor”

CyberLaw and You: What New Media Communicators Must Know

Christopher Juillet, STC Fellow and STC-SM chapter member, will be presenting a talk for Northeast Ohio STC on Thursday, March 9, about legal issues that could affect technical communicators who develop content for or do business on the internet.

If you are planning to be in or near Cleveland on March 9— Beechwood is a suburb east of Cleveland — the presentation will be at Homewood Suites by Hilton, Cleveland-Beachwood. Preregistration is required.

News From Nearby STC Chapters

We’ve received links from nearby chapters that may be of interest to you.

The Northeast Ohio chapter’s Line & Letters newsletter has some interesting posts to check out, including a tip for identifying passive voice with zombies and a recap of an STC webinar about search engine optimization.

Chicago’s chapter takes a different approach. They post a bimonthly PDF newsletter, Byline, which covers local and national STC news.

Reading news from nearby chapters will give you more of an idea about STC as a whole. Thank you to MK Grueneberg of STC Chicago and Sara Buchanan of NEO STC for sending the links.

[Michigan CHI] Internet User Experience 2015 Conference Call for Presenters

The conference organizer would like at least a half day of talks on content, writing for web, blog, tweet, and other documentation, but you are welcome to submit proposals on any aspect of user experience.
The deadline has been extended to April 27.

From: [] On Behalf Of Dave Mitropoulos-Rundus
Subject: [Michigan CHI] Internet User Experience 2015 Conference Call for Presenters

IUE2015 will be held June 15-17 in Ann Arbor at the Michigan League, which will spill out into the summer festival at the end of each conference day for live music, food, drink, and of course movies at 10. Continue reading “[Michigan CHI] Internet User Experience 2015 Conference Call for Presenters”

Ignite UX Michigan Draws Standing-Room-Only Crowd

Five minutes, twenty auto-advancing slides, and an excited standing-room-only crowd. Are you a little crazy? Not at all. You are a presenter at Ignite UX Michigan.

On October 21, 2014, thirteen people presented their thoughts about user experience at Ignite UX Michigan at Conor O’Neill’s in Ann Arbor.

Big Ideas

We heard about some big ideas: the user interface as a magic ritual; a future with many more do-it-yourselfers who will need to know the same basic design principles we use now and who will have limited resources; embedded user research as another approach to [qualitative] research, based on a summer teaching experience with Girls Who Code; and philosophical questions: How does LATCH—Location, Alphabet, Time, Category, and Hierarchy—a way to organize information, intersect with reality? How do we make reality?

End Users

However, the majority of the rest of the talks focussed on end users in one way or another.
One person talked about some common disabilities and how to design for the using good writing and good HTML design, while another gave some quick examples of good and bad design when telling stories with data visualization.

One speaker had an epiphany on a trip to Paraguay. Speaking no Spanish, the best visual and social cues she used were nonverbal ones. Her big questions were: What would it mean to be a traveler on a website? How can we extend the nonverbal communication of login pages and search bars to other areas?

A content strategist who is the one-person UX team at her company explained how to create plausible streamlined personas even while lacking time, budget, or even users.

Academic software design was critiqued, and suggestions were made for creating smaller products grounded in learning theory for the primary end users, teachers and students.


There were also business-focussed talks. One speaker talked about how to have jobs come to you. A visual designer explained how UX people can work effectively with visual designers.

Another speaker talked about applying user experience to project management: What if, instead of having processes and procedures coming from the top down, workers became participants in creating their work environment?

The last presentation was a cautionary tale of a website project that got too focussed on implementation instead of goals. That speaker reminded us to solve the right problem at the right level for the right reason.

The program ended with a raffle: nine books and six posters, contributed by sponsors, were given away. Many people lingered to talk afterwards. The presentations were very stimulating, and many of the slides themselves were both interesting and well designed.

Looking Ahead: World Usability Day in the “D”

Whether you are conscious of it or not, successful technical communication always involves creating a good user experience. Your will have a chance to learn more about user experience on November 13, 2014, World Usability Day.

STC New England chapter is now accepting entries…

The STC New England chapter is now accepting entries for their 2014 technical communication competition! Anyone is welcome to submit an entry; STC membership is not a requirement.

The deadline for entries is October 3rd.

For more information, visit the STC New England chapter’s website. Feel free to contact Emily Alfson with any questions at or contact the competition committee directly at

The Passion of Grant Writing

Written by Mary Jo David

Grant-writing presentation at WCC May 2, 2014On Thursday, April 24, 2014, STC/SM sponsored a Grant Writing 101 program for members and non-members alike. Three panelists provided valuable insight and anecdotes about their experiences assessing grant opportunities and writing grants. The panelists included:

  • Dawn Massie: Grants Manager at Hope Medical Clinic (Ypsilanti)
  • Laura Crane: Grant Administrator at Washtenaw Community College (Ann Arbor)
  • Scott Gifford: Vice President of Community Development & Grant Management at Matrix Human Services (Detroit)

The panelist perspectives were interesting and varied as they crossed the spectrum of non-profit and for-profit organizations. Dawn’s presentation included her thoughts about the qualities of a good grant writer. She also mentioned the unique opportunity she has at Hope Clinic to describe the good work being done there, not just for those awarding the grants but also for an internal audience of those who work at the clinic who don’t always realize the impact of their work. Laura focused on the grant process and emphasized the need to clearly show how the needs and goals of the organization requesting the grant align with, support, and further the purposes and vision of the grant funders. Scott stressed the importance of relationships and suggested that successful grant writers must recognize the importance of developing strong relationships with the grant funders long before these writers prepare and submit their grant requests. One message that came through loud and clear from all three panelists is that to be a good grant writer you need to be passionate about the organization you’re working for, the topics you’re writing about, or best case, both.

The program was well attended by a mix of professional writers and students. Early in his presentation, Scott inquired about the make-up of the audience: the vast majority had no experience in grant writing, and most were there just to learn the basics about what’s involved in this field.
As always, time was provided at the beginning of the evening to encourage networking among attendees. Special thanks to Lisa Veasey, Programs Manager for STC-SM, for organizing this program and to Washtenaw Community College for providing the venue.

Northeast Ohio/STC Chapter’s Program Meeting—Component Content Management Systems

Last week I had to the chance to attend the Northeast Ohio/STC Chapter’s program meeting on component content management systems (CCMS). Yes, it was a long, 3 ½ hour drive to Akron (I guess that’s why God invented XM Radio), but I am a member of the NEO chapter and hadn’t seen other chapter members or been to a meeting in quite a while. Besides, I was really interested in the topic since I currently have a client who has asked me to develop a content management system (CMS) for his small I/O device manufacturing company. So I figured this would be a great opportunity to learn more about what I was getting into (ignorance may be bliss, but it also usually ends up costing you customers).

The program speaker was Ms. Suzanne Mescan, Vice President of Marketing for Vasont Systems and a contributing author for the book Virtual Collaborative Writing in the Workplace: Computer-Mediated Communication Technologies and Processes. Ms. Mescan has worked in many aspects of the information management and publishing industry, including content management, editorial, art and design, project management, and pre-press production. So I figured that if anybody could help me with CMS, she could. Plus, the information announcing the program began with the words, “If you’re a technical writer who has no reason to go beyond MS Word, get ready to explore strange, new technologies…” – hey, this sounded just like me! Now I was hooked! Continue reading “Northeast Ohio/STC Chapter’s Program Meeting—Component Content Management Systems”