Associate Profile: Janice (Ginny) Redish


August 1999

Associate Profile: Janice (Ginny) Redish


Janice (Ginny) Redish is President of Redish & Associates, Inc. As an independent consultant, Ginny helps companies solve problems in technical communication and usability.

Ginny is a linguist by training, with a Ph.D. from Harvard. What does a linguist do if she’s interested in practical issues and doesn’t end up at a university? Ginny says she “was in the right place at the right time”-Washington DC in the late 1970’s-when the federal government funded a major project to understand why public documents are so difficult for people to understand and use-and improve them.

With help from colleagues at the American Institutes for Research (AIR), a not-for-profit Washington, DC, research and consulting firm, Ginny wrote the winning proposal for the federally-funded Document Design Project. Ginny then expanded the effort into the Document Design Center, which she directed for 13 years.

In the early 1980s, major companies like HP and IBM asked Ginny and her staff to help them change the way they designed, wrote, and produced documentation; they were beginning to develop products for new and broader audiences whom they didn’t know how to reach. Through many innovative projects, Ginny and her staff helped by developing new models for print and online documentation, by involving technical communicators in interface design and usability, and by making companies understand that good processes are as important as good products.

Although Ginny now comes to clients as a consultant, she has extensive experience in managing teams of technical communicators, graphic designers, and usability specialists. Ginny built the Document Design Center into a multi-project institute that at one point included 45 people and a $12 million budget. So, Ginny is familiar with juggling staffing for many projects at once and with satisfying both clients and upper management while trying to provide a good working environment and professional development for her staff.

Ginny takes great pleasure in helping people to communicate clearly. She works with and mentors technical communicators, subject matter specialists, and managers in many different fields.

Ginny is a dynamic workshop leader and conference speaker. Whether working with 10 people or 600, Ginny always makes her sessions informative, interactive, and involving. Ginny particularly enjoys teaching courses in developing clear and usable documents, user and task analysis, observation and interviewing skills, and usability and usability testing.

One of Ginny’s major interests is in understanding corporate cultures and helping to bring about beneficial and strategic changes. As a consultant, Ginny has worked in a wide range of corporate cultures and shares her experiences and expertise to help clients change processes within their own corporate cultures. She also helps by evaluating document systems and standards, mentoring groups to develop their own style guides, and reviewing web sites, interfaces, online help, and manuals.

Ginny is an active member of both the Society for Technical Communication (STC) and the Usability Professionals’ Association (UPA); she is an STC Fellow and a past member of the Board of Directors of both STC and UPA. In 1995, the professional society of computer documentation specialists (ACM SIGDOC) honored Ginny with its Rigo award, given annually to an individual for significant contributions to the profession.

Ginny is co-author of several books, including Dumas and Redish, A Practical Guide to Usability Testing (Ablex, 1993) and Hackos and Redish, User and Task Analysis for Interface Design (John Wiley & Sons, 1998). She also serves on the editorial board of three journals and has published numerous papers and book chapters on writing, document design, and usability. CIDMIconNewsletter