Book Review: Developing User Assistance for Mobile Apps, 2nd Edition


Joe Welinske, of WritersUA, is something of a guru when it comes to developing Help for mobile devices. In this second edition of Developing User Assistance for Mobile Apps, Joe has completely revised it with 300 new pages and 22 new chapters. It also includes 400 illustrations of Help patterns used in apps such as Google Earth, Verizon, and WebMD, along with Joe’s comments about each.

Technical communicators will benefit greatly from reading this book. For those who play a UX role, and even for those who don’t, it is an expertly written and thorough examination of the emerging tools (such as simulation software) and techniques (such as coach marks and embedded Help) used to develop mobile UA. The book also provides information about working with UI text, writing for small-screen interfaces, applying touch language to UA, voice technology, single-sourcing, and other aspects of mobile technology.

This isn’t a quick start guide, it’s more of an engaging textbook, and is well worth keeping nearby as a handy reference. Or, use it to show others in your organization which Help design is best for your mobile app.

Joe Welinske has been involved with software documentation since 1984, specializing in the area of user assistance. He has served as president of the Puget Sound Chapter of STC for two terms, and regularly provides featured talks at other chapters of the Society for Technical Communication.


You can buy the printed version of the book on Lulu. It is also available through Amazon. The website for the book offers full-color versions of all the images and live links to all the resources.

Summer Beach Reading for Techcomm Professionals


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You might not think of these eight books as ones you want to take along to the beach or on vacation, but take another look. We thought they were entertaining, as well as informative. Give one or two a read this summer, and let us know if you got a better tan while enhancing your career.

#Content Marketing Tweet Book: 140 Bite-Sized Ideas to Create and Market Compelling Content by Ambal Balakrishnan

Submerged in the world of content marketing? Learn how to create compelling content that your customers and prospective clients will love.

Klout for Dummies by Andrea Updyke

Need to grow your Klout Score? Learn how Klout works so you can use it to see how influential you are and how effective your content is.

The Art of SEO, 2nd edition by Eric Enge, Stephan Spencer, Jessie Stricchiola, and Rand Fishkin

Low SEO rankings on your content? Learn how to measure your success by tracking the results of changes you make to your site, big or small.

Word Up! How to Write Powerful Sentences and Paragraphs (and Everything You Build from Them) by Marcia Riefer Johnston

Want people to read your words? Learn how to write powerfully so they will want to.

Content strategy: Connecting the Dots Between Business, Brand, and Benefits by Noz Urbina and Rahel Bailie

Looking for content strategy case studies? Learn how to create, implement, sell, and maintain a content strategy by reading about those that are successful and those that aren’t.

Agile User Experience Design by Diana Brown

Swimming in UX waters? Find out which tools you need to stay afloat in an agile environment.

The Language of Content Strategy by Scott Abel, Rahel Bailie, and Marcia Riefer Johnston

Flummoxed by copious terms and definitions surrounding content strategy? This book gives 52 terms that are central to the emerging profession of content strategy.

The Insider’s Guide to Technical Writing by Krista Van Laan

Want to take your career to the next level? Learn new skills for building or growing a successful career as a professional technical communicator.

Have another book to add? Please share it in the comments.


Design for How People Learn

book_coverWritten by Julie Hale

My training in technical writing has made me want to learn more about the field of instructional design, so I recently read an interesting book called Design for How People Learn by Julie Dirksen (New Riders Press, 2012). The author makes good use of photographs, cartoon-like drawings, mock screenshots, and other graphics. The book’s tone is conversational, and the author uses current cultural references and her own experiences to provide context for the ideas she presents.

Dirksen does a great job of laying out the basics, which makes the book particularly valuable to anyone without an extensive background in instructional design. She discusses skill vs. knowledge, explains why some teaching methods don’t work well in time-compressed situations, and describes the difference between a motivation gap and a knowledge gap. Her observations are thoughtful and her analyses extend beyond the teaching method. Sometimes, she notes, an instructor may not be dealing with a learning problem—instead, the problem may involve another factor like leadership or style of communication. The author also believes that while learners can’t be forced into being motivated, it is possible for good instructional design to help promote and support motivation.

Dirksen’s clear and logical explanation of key concepts and her focused writing style makes the book a quick and engaging read. I recommend Design for How People Learn to anyone interested in knowing more about how to convey information effectively.

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