STC unveiled the winners of two community awards at the 2015 Summit: The Most Improved Community and the Community of the Year. These awards were introduced at the 2011 Summit to complement the current community awards and provide an extra incentive for chapters and SIGs.

Most Improved 2015The Most Improved Community is given to the community that “stepped up their game” the most from one year to the next, based on their applications for the Community Achievement Award (CAA). This year the award goes to the Phoenix Chapter.

Their citation reads: For your tremendous increase in chapter activities between 2013 and 2014, for rebuilding your chapter, and for serving as a model host for the 2014 STC Summit.
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Note from the Editor – June Intercom

by Liz Pohland on 23 June 2015

June Intercom is guest edited by Jack Molisani with a theme of career management and prosperity. Jack is president of ProSpring Technical Staffing, executive director of The LavaCon Conference on Content Strategy and TechComm Management, and author of Be The Captain of Your Career: A New Approach To Career Planning and Development. He has solicited six articles that showcase ways to be more successful and influential in the workplace. This issue also marks the retirement of Jack’s column Advancing Your Career. Thank you, Jack, and all the authors in this issue of Intercom for your expertise and assistance with promoting our professional development.

From the Guest Editor

Jack MolisaniI recently had the pleasure or hearing STC Past President Andrea Ames speak at a conference. (Andrea is the first woman in the history of IBM to rise to her level from an information development track.) She presented an inspiring keynote on career development titled, “Forget ‘Predict’ the Future—Create the Future!”*

In her keynote, Andrea reminded us to not only watch for career opportunities, but to create career opportunities. So when Intercom Editor Liz Pohland asked me shortly thereafter if I’d be interested in guest editing an issue of Intercom, I said, “Yes, and I have a perfect theme in mind: career management and prosperity!” [click to continue…]


At the Opening General Session for the 2015 STC Summit in Columbus, President Kit Brown-Hoekstra named her recipient of the President’s Award. The President’s Award honors one or more persons or institutions that have made distinguished contributions to the profession or the Society.

Phylise  BannerThis year’s honoree is Phylise Banner.

Her citation reads: For your dedication to our profession and to STC; for your creativity, visionary thinking, teaching, and speaking abilities; and for all the work that you have done over the years helping STC build its online educational programs, Virtual Summit, and conferences. [click to continue…]


Badass—An Interview with Kathy Sierra

by Marisa Seitz on 17 June 2015

By Nicky Bleiel, Senior Member and STC Past President

Kathy Sierra - Badass: Making Users AwesomeKathy Sierra is the author of many successful books, including the award winning Head First series with Bert Bates. She’s an in-demand conference speaker, trainer, programmer, and the founder of the online community JavaRanch. In this interview, she and Nicky Bleiel discuss her new book, Badass: Making Users Awesome.

Nicky Bleiel: Kathy, thanks so much for joining me to discuss your new book. I must admit, the minute I heard the title I wanted to interview you about it, because technical communicators consider our main goal “making users successful.” Your book ups that ante to “making users awesome.” That’s impressive.

Kathy Sierra: Thank you. That title was actually controversial. For a long time they didn’t want to use the word, “badass.” I chose it very deliberately, because I use to refer to it as making “passionate” users. But I realized how many time people mistook “passionate” to mean “people are really enthusiastic about the brand.” I always meant “growing expertise,” not “we love the brand” or “we love the product.”

I chose “badass” because it was just a more difficult word to get wrong.

NB: It is much less ambiguous. What was actually the impetus for writing Badass? It was many years in the making, correct?

KS: It was. I delivered it about six years late. I’m the worst possible role model for meeting a deadline but I had very patient publishers. [click to continue…]

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Recognition Monday: The International Summit Awards

by Marisa Seitz on 15 June 2015

We continue our build toward the Honors Reception at the 2015 Technical Communication Summit. STC’s (and technical communication’s) best and brightest are celebrated at the Honors Reception as part of the Summit. Below are this years honorees for the International Summit Awards. Attending the Summit and want to help celebrate them in person? This year the Honors Reception is included in your registration! If you haven’t registered yet, visit Can’t make it to Columbus? Consider registering for the Virtual Track.

Each year, STC sponsors international competitions through which technical communicators have the opportunity to receive recognition for their work. STC chapters hold preliminary competitions from which Excellence and Distinguished Award winners advance to the international level. Each entry is judged against criteria that measure the degree of technical content, achievement of purpose, and technical execution whether online or in printed deliverable.

BestofShow2011Below are the Best of Show and Distinguished honorees from this year’s International Summit Awards. Congratulations to all winners and thank you to the judges and committee!

Best of Show

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Note from the Editor – May Intercom

by Liz Pohland on 12 June 2015


The May issue of Intercom centers on ethics and has been guest edited by Dr. Derek Ross. Derek is an associate professor in Auburn University’s Master of Technical and Professional Communication Program; co-director of LUCIA, Auburn’s laboratory for usability, communication interaction, and accessibility; and the ethics columnist for Intercom. His research interests include perceptions of environmental rhetoric, ethics, and document design.

I am quite pleased with the issue Derek has put together. He solicited six articles from well-known experts in the field. Topics range from ethics lessons and everyday advice, to ethics in health care, ethics in visual displays, ethical experience architecture, and the ethics of “other” knowledge. I thank Derek and all the authors in this issue for their contributions to knowledge in technical communication.

From the Guest Editor


Sam Dragga once told our ethics class that “no one wants to read what you write.” I thought, “Man. What a bummer.” But it’s often true in technical communication. We’re not writing the next History of Hogwarts, we’re writing documentation for Hogwarts’ communication systems. We’re designing, or facilitating, systems images, medical information, complex instruction sets, charts and graphs, and more. We network, accommodate, articulate, and steward. Technical communicators don’t often write the books that we’ll pick up on our next flight to the Summit, but we do write the information that lets the airplane get built, the tickets get sold, and the radar systems keep doing what they need to do. We codify knowledge and life goes on.

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The Nielsen Norman Group has published a report called “User Experience Careers: How to Become a UX Pro, and How to Hire One.” The report is free, but it is copyrighted so please do not distribute the file or host it elsewhere. You can download the report here. User Experience Careers is based on a survey of usability experience professionals conducted in 2013. It is compilation of professional advice based on experience gained over the years from Usability practitioners. I bring this report to your attention because the Usability SIG has never provided career-oriented information, and I believe it is helpful for you to make a career decision.

You will be pleased to know that the skills you have as a Technical Communicator are important to Usability. For instance, Technical Communication is a common background for Usability and User Experience (UX) professionals, but it often hides inside other programs as a subspecialty or as elective courses, for example in English, general science, engineering, and communication programs. One of the respondents wrote that what was most helpful was being a member of the Society of Technical Communication.  [click to continue…]


Denise JacobsSTC Associate Fellow Karen Bachmann interviewed Denise Jacobs, creativity evangelist, who will be speaking as the closing keynote for the 2015 Summit. Below is a selection of Denise’s responses. Learn more about the Summit at Can’t make it to Columbus? Consider registering for the Virtual Track.

Becoming a creativity evangelist

Being a creativity evangelist is a very cool thing to be doing. It came to me when I was writing my book CSS Detective Guide. I did technical writing for a really long time. I worked at Microsoft in the user experience area in different groups. I’d written manuals on how to do stuff as well as all the stuff I did for the Web. Despite all that experience, the process of writing a book was really daunting. I had moments of self-doubt for the entire eight months. When I finally got through the process and was designing the website, it was the first time I was designing something that I wasn’t too self critical about. In that moment, I thought “Oh my god! How amazing to just create in this uncluttered way! I wish I could make other people feel like this.” I felt this rush of energy going through me. Like being in love. It was a feeling of complete and utter joy and acceptance. If I could bottle this, if I could help other people go through a process to feel like this, that’s what I want to do with my life.

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There Is Value in STC Membership

by Marisa Seitz on 9 June 2015

This is a reminder to take advantage of your member benefits and get the value you deserve.

Enrich Your Career

findjobHave you downloaded your free copy of STC’s Salary Database? This is a helpful tool that can be used to conduct more powerful job searches, make a strong case for a raise, or prepare department payroll budgets.

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STC Communities and Staff Win APEX Awards

by Marisa Seitz on 9 June 2015

2015 APEX AwardsSTC is proud to announce that five STC communities and the STC staff recently were named winners in APEX 2015, the 27th Annual Awards for Publication Excellence. APEX Awards are based on excellence in graphic design, editorial content, and the ability to achieve overall communication excellence. APEX Grand Awards honor the outstanding works in each main category, while APEX Awards of Excellence recognize exceptional entries in each of the individual categories. Out of over a thousand entries, just 82 won APEX Grand Awards. [click to continue…]