Mar 242014

Autodesk award winners (L-R, front:
Josh Breault, Jeff Hanson, Kevin Dolley, Lisa McCarty; back row: Karen Smith and Patty Gale.

Autodesk, of Manchester, New Hampshire and RSA, the security division of EMC, headquartered in Bedford, Massachusetts, won Best in Show awards for exceptional technical communications projects in the 2013 Technical Communication Competition of the Society for Technical Communications New England Chapter. Winners of the 2013 competition were announced at the STC New England March 19 meeting.

The competition drew 19 entries from 10 corporations and included categories for publications, online media, mobile platforms, and technical illustration. A complete list of winning entries is as the bottom of this page.

The Autodesk Revit LT 2014 — Getting Started was created by Lisa McCarty and Jeff Hanson. The RSA Authentication Manager 8.0 Planning Guide was created by Joyce Cohen, Mark Decker, James Doyle, Kevin Kyle, and Laurence Starn. Each publication also received an Award of Distinction and will go on to be judged in the STC International Competition.

“The competitions are a key to the STC providing value to employers,” according to John Sgammato, an STC New England Council member. “We provide value to area companies by quantifying documentation quality because competition judges are uniquely qualified to measure it. And the judging always includes written critiques, so people who enter learn ways to improve.”

Links to Winning Entries

Please join us in celebrating the 2013 STC Competition award-winning entries.  We have included a set of links to many of the winning entries so you have the opportunity to view and enjoy the entries at your leisure.
Technical Publications Competition

RSA Authentication Manager 8.0 Planning Guide

Mark Decker, James Doyle, Laurence Starn, Joyce Cohen, Kevin Kyle — EMC Corporation

Award of Distinction

Online Communication Competition

Autodesk Revit 2014 Essential Skills Videos
Lisa McCarty, Jeff Hanson, Karen Smith, Kevin Dolley, Mary Roy, Michael Lavoie — Autodesk, Inc
Award of Merit

Scribe Online Help Center
Miriam Lezak — Scribe Software Corporation
Award of Merit

DNS API Knowledge Base
Kimberly Lacerte — Dyn
Award of Merit

Authenticating IBM Systems Director Users Stored in LDAP
Kate Tinklenberg, Linette Williams — IBM Corporation
Award of Excellence

Simulink 3D Animation Online Help
Greg Bartlett — Mathworks
Award of Distinction

Autodesk Revit LT 2014 — Getting Started
Lisa McCarty, Jeff Hanson — Autodesk, Inc
Award of Distinction

Designing Autodesk Revit LT 2014 Getting Started

by Lisa McCarty and Jeff Hanson
We developed the Getting Started tutorial for Autodesk Revit LT, a simplified 3D Building Information Modeling Tool. It is a “lighter” version of Autodesk’s Revit product line that allows users to produce high-quality architectural 3D designs and construction documentation. We knew our users would be familiar with architectural tasks, but would be new to the software, and probably to 3D modeling.

In previous years, Jeff and I had worked on long, complex tutorials for our full Revit product. For this new Revit LT offering, we wanted to create a getting started experience for users that would help them get up to speed quickly, understand the user interface, and learn the basic tasks.

Our goal was to create an engaging learn-by-doing tutorial where the user creates a simple building model using Revit LT. The lessons would cover setting up the elevations, designing the site, building the model, and creating construction documents. Each lesson would be brief, about 10-15 minutes. A user could easily complete one lesson and pick up with another one later, or work through the entire tutorial in a couple of hours.

Due to the visual nature of the software, we wanted to incorporate video into the tutorial. But, understanding that it can be difficult to learn from a video, we also provided the steps and data sets so users could work through the procedures. In previous tutorials, we only provided a starting data set, but as users worked through the lessons, they would sometimes make mistakes that would make it difficult for them to continue to the next lesson. So, for this tutorial, we provided a starting data set for each lesson to give users options for working through the lessons: Work sequentially through the lessons using the evolving data set, or jump into a lesson, using that lesson’s data set as a starting point.

To make the tutorial approachable, we set up a standard header with the estimated time to complete each lesson, as well as links to the required files. We included objectives for each lesson so the user could quickly review what would be covered. Each lesson includes video, step-by-step instructions with supporting files, and a link to the next lesson. The tutorial introduces users to terms and concepts that can then be searched in the help for more information. The learning experience provides a frame of reference for using the software.
We enjoyed working on the tutorial because we saw how it could help our target users successfully create a building using Revit LT — and to do so quickly, with no prior experience in the software. We hoped that early success would encourage our new users to continue to learn and work with the tools.

We were excited for the opportunity to enter our tutorial in the STC competition to be reviewed by our peers. The template that the reviewers used for feedback was clear and easy to read, and the written comments were very helpful. One of the reviewers recommended, “It might be helpful to give the user an exercise that builds on the learning from the tutorial. A video could show the answer.” We are interested in this approach and are looking for ways to incorporate this type of learning in our next release.

The positive response from our users, along with the feedback and award from our peers at the Society for Technical Communication will go a long way in supporting our requests to develop more of this type of learning content. Thank you for reviving the STC New England Competition and for giving our entry your consideration, as well as for taking the time to provide thorough and thoughtful feedback

Award Winners