The "Getting Down and Dirty with Accessibility and Usability" workshop is a hands-on workshop. You'll learn the simple solutions that can instantly improve your website accessibility. You will go out into the world with some new tools and tricks - and knowledge that you can share with others.
My motivation for creating this workshop is to get people making changes and improvements now. Start learning about accessibility for your own websites, and gain the knowledge that you can teach others at your workplace. If you have any practical questions, you are welcome to contact Karen Mardahl directly at http://www.mardahl.dk/contact/
In the spirit of the topics of usability and accessibility, Information Design 101 is an introduction to the principles of making information easy to understand. Taking a document collectively selected by potential workshop attendees, this workshop will guide attendees through a number of basic information design techniques, to end the session with a new improved (and easier to use) document. These techniques will include typography, plain language and document structure – all demonstrated using everyday software. This workshop will be a hands on session, with attendees encouraged to bring a laptop with Microsoft Word to try out some of the techniques themselves.
If you'd like to suggest the sort of document you'd want to work on in this session, please see Robert's website.
by Leah Guren
New writers getting started in technical communication often focus on tools; they want to learn how to use the latest versions of the most popular DTPs or HATs. They also scramble to get up to speed on their company’s products and technology domains. While those are necessary elements of the job, they don’t address the fundamental theory of technical communication. Knowing how to use Word doesn’t tell you how to decide what needs to be documented, and how. Learn to analyze technical communication projects based on the Golden Rules—Leah’s key TC theory presented in ten easy-to-remember and apply rules: For example: understand why TC writing requires a different writing style and how to apply it; develop techniques for analyzing audience needs; learn to find and document hidden hazards; analyze information from its visual structure; apply critical analysis to information; …and much more! This 3-hour workshop is a lively hands-on review of key theory. Rules are presented with examples and there are plenty of interactive exercises. Be ready to laugh and learn! This workshop is appropriate for:
Accessibility is all about checklists, HTML and assistive technologies. Its only impact on Technical Communications is to require words to be written in Plain English, even if the site’s primary audience are black, urban taggers who regularly reinvent the English language for their own needs and identity. Sometimes, you'd be forgiven for thinking that those two statements are true. Professor Jonathan Hassell has spent much of his last three years disproving them, both at the BBC and in other organisations, and coding how accessibility should be seen in the context of user-centred design into BS 8878. In this workshop, he'll show how BS 8878 provides a framework for helping web communications professionals embed accessibility considerations into their work and the work of the other members in a website production team, how it can empower and free them from onerous constraints, how it can challenge them to be more creative, and how the results can benefit all users, not just those with disabilities.
by Veronica Broughton-Shaw
Targeted at managers, authors, and editors working in – or interested in the challenges of – a global technology environment Nowadays, software is being developed in English all over the world. In a context where co-location is seen as a must, the technical authors writing the accompanying documentation commonly don’t have first-language proficiency in English. Similarly, English is frequently not the language of habitual use for the consumers of the documentation. These factors result in new challenges with respect to training of technical authors and documentation quality processes.
In this workshop, using exercises and examples, we look at what problems that can arise and what can be done to combat these problems, for example:
The session focuses particularly on linguistic aspects. Look forward to a practical session with exercises and lots of examples!
by Scott Abel
Mobile devices have changed the way many people live and work. For instance, with the introduction of powerful and inexpensive handheld devices and web-enabled smartphones and tablets, mobile has made access to the web more affordable to those for whom cost was previously a barrier to entry. In the UK, for example, 25% of web users rely on their mobile device as their only or primary connection to the web. They use their devices for a wide variety of purposes. One of the most popular is reading eBooks.
eBooks are selling at record-breaking pace in Australia, India, the US and UK. More than 20% of all books sold in the US last year were eBooks, while 31% of all books sold in the young adult, children’s and adult book sales categories were eBooks. These changes in traditional publishing are influencing the way our customers want to consume content on mobile devices. But, few technical communication professionals understand the implications of such changes on the way we create, manage and deliver information to those who need it, on the devices of their choosing.
Attend this workshop to gain a better understanding of the standards, devices and technologies that impact the way we make, package, and distribute eBook content for use by consumers on smart phones, eReaders, tablet computers and other mobile devices.
by Leah Guren
by Bryan Lade
Let’s face it, selling yourself as a Technical Author that can do great value added things for a company is hard. However, there are practical things Authors can do to help market themselves, their achievements or their capabilities…well! In this session we will explore various aspects of how to make a better job of selling what you do. We’ll understand the preferred career style of an individual; are you a contractor by nature, a freelancer or a Permy, and what’s the difference! Does it matter? What characteristics do you need to be successful in these different roles and how does each market itself successfully? And what about LinkedIn? having a web site? tweeting? and selling yourself to your colleagues and peers more effectively? There are so many things you could do – but equally many you probably shouldn’t! And we’ll look at CVs of course, as being an Author, yours will be superb won’t it? We’ll also explore different skill sets and experiences of authors that clients typically look for and spend a little time asking if the hiring company really care about what it is they want you to do for them. For unless you get to the bottom of this, you will probably be entering another role where you will find yourself crying out again “I am not valued!” and the frustrations begin all over again. Whether you want to impress more at your current employer or you would like to be better prepared to look for your next role, albeit as a permy, contractor or freelancer, I hope you will gain some helpful tips from this session.
by Andrew Marlow
“If a product is intuitive enough, there’s no need for a user guide”. Does this sound familiar? The role of the technical communicator has changed over the last couple of decades. One aspect of change concerns the reduction of user assistance material that accompanies new products. The evolution of product development and design attempts to eliminate the need for comprehensive instructions. For the professional technical communicator, such a trend potentially limits the scope of their work. This presentation discusses the issues facing technical communicators working in an increasingly specialised field of activity. It covers the impact on their training and experience and the need for diversification. The session also speculates on the role user documentation might play in the future, especially in a global context. The content is of relevance to all levels of technical communicator, whether new or experienced.
by Ian Ampleford and Peter Jones
In 2011, ARM Technical Publications went out to talk to our external customers for the first time. We were planning the move from a traditional book-based workflow to a DITA environment and wanted to find out how our customers used our documentation and what they thought of it. We conducted a series of User and Task Analysis sessions with assistance from the Rockley Group and got input from 13 groups of engineers and managers in China, Korea, India, Japan, and the USA.
by Matt Pierce
What does it take to create great visual content to support technical documentation, reference and other content? Do you have to be a graphic designer or artist to make effective content? It’s not all about artistic license; it’s about everyone else and gathering feedback. In this workshop, not only will you learn a few clever ideas to help you keep your design looking professional and useful, we’ll also run a design review. At least half of good visual design isn’t about what you create, it’s about the feedback you get. We’ll establish ground rules for a design critique session, work through suggestions for getting the most meaning out of the feedback, practice providing feedback on visual elements, and help you overcome the ‘But I don’t know anything about that!’ puzzle for yourself and those reviewing your work. So, while you may not be an expert in visual design, preferring instead to ‘work with words,’ come explore with us how you can do more.
by Tom Gannon
Translation tools have evolved over the years. From the basic CAT tool (like the original Trados) through to the modern Translation Management System (TMS) tools which use workflows to manage and streamline the localization process.
Rapid development in translation tools has been driven by changes in the way we use and publish content. Traditionally, documents and technical manuals took weeks to author and subsequently translate, but their shelf-life was long. Now, a lot of content is digital and web-based. Today’s content may contain sophisticated multimedia elements and maybe destined to become social media content, news feeds, blogs and catalogue-style content. Updates, edits and translations have to be quicker and the overall life-cycle is much shorter – hours not weeks. This has all affected the usability and accessibility of translation tools. The pace at which jobs are processed from authoring to translation has forced the evolution not only of the tools themselves, but of the whole business model that underpins the translation industry.
In this session, Tom Gannon will look at how translation tools have evolved over the past 10 years and how this has impacted usability and accessibility. The translation tools covered in this presentation are SDL Trados (CAT / TMS), Across (TMS), Globalsight (TMS) and Google Translate. Tom will also look at phenomena such as crowd sourced translation and MT.
by Ray Gallon
Whatever you call yourself, you probably need to wear many hats and work in many disciplines in the course of your daily work. This presentation situates technical communicators at the center of what I call "content work," and presents how we can (and do) extend our activities from traditional technical communication into fields such as content strategy, information architecture, user experience and the like. The importance of this is that it moves us from a tactical to a strategic position in our organizations. As Rahel Bailie has said, "Where business analysis, usability and content development meet."
by Tony Self
As more companies implement DITA to streamline the development of documentation and user assistance, best practices for DITA authoring are being established. While the OASIS DITA standard provides rules for the use of elements and attributes, it does not provide clear guidelines for how to practically apply the mark-up, and how to create consistency so that DITA documents can be more readily interchanged. In traditional authoring, a style guide would provide real-world examples and clear recommendations. However, existing style guides are written for style-based authoring, and not for semantic authoring. Tony Self has analysed the way in which DITA has been used, and has developed a DITA Style Guide to fill the gap between the DITA standard and traditional style manuals.
by Jane Toon
Well written help is key to a software product, but it isn’t any good unless people can find, use and understand it. This talk will take you through the conversion of a solution from an on-premise separate help system, to a cloud based integrated help system. On the way it will chart a course through agile methods, entrenched views and lots of maps.
by rachel potts
Customer support is a major expense for software companies - and rarely a pleasure for software users. More and more software companies aspire to create software that needs minimal support, with online support portals offering the additional learning and troubleshooting information that's needed. But the UI and the support portal are often treated as separate endeavours - missing the opportunity for a seamless experience and more successful self-service. Drawing on 10 years of experience of working at the interface between software development teams and customer service, Rachel will describe some of the key lessons learned about making UIs and product "help" work together to enable users to solve their own problems. The talk will draw on findings from usability testing and web analytics, as well as qualitative feedback from users, and will offer practical guidelines to help decision-making about how to deliver information that maximises the potential of self-service support.
In her earlier research, Makayla Lewis looked at the experiences and challenges faced when people with the physical disability cerebral palsy use online social networks (OSN). The work identified that abrupt and changing user interfaces prevented people from communicating online or slowed them down. Based on these findings, a longitudinal web 2.0 monitoring and analysis study was carried out to investigate how changes are introduced to OSNs, their effect on users and the factors that encourage change acceptance on the part of users. The longitudinal study was divided into three studies: two studies investigated real world examples of OSN change by observing the actions of change agents, e.g. Twitter and Facebook, and their effect on OSN users, and a survey study asked OSN users about their experiences of change. The studies were used to develop a novel 5-stage process for OSN change for change agents to follow. This presentation will summarise the four studies and introduce the change deployment process.
by Alison Peck
We know we need to keep our skills and knowledge current, and many of us consider that we 'do' CPD as a matter of course... after all, we're here at the conference, aren't we? If it's so obvious, why do so many not bother? What are the barriers? And can we do something about them? We'll investigate what 'counts' as CPD (and what doesn't), and how much it's likely to cost us, both individually and collectively, as a profession, whether we engage with CPD or not. We'll look at what you can do now, whether you are an employee or freelance, and suggest ways in which the ISTC may be able to help. I can promise you that you won't be sitting and listening - this is going to be an interactive session so come prepared to get involved. This definitely will class as CPD - if you decide to engage in the discussion.
by Julian Murfitt
Levering content generated by internal SMEs and users (while maintaining quality), and having help content treated more as ‘part of the product’ instead of an afterthought, have long been goals of the technical communicator. ‘Embedded’ content is supporting technical content that is displayed to users directly inside the products their using – set inside a software UI or displayed through a display panel on a hardware device like a printer LCD or in-car data display. ‘Socially enabled’ content is enhanced by, but not necessarily created by, the user community. Both are modern ways for organisations to respond to pressures for more tailored, more effective help. Both delivers benefits to the supplier and user, and when they’re combined have enormous potential, but there are many challenges to overcome before either one can be realised. However, organisations will still need to deliver to traditional electronic and print formats at the same time. This session will look at: ·The benefits of embedding and socially enabling help for users and authors ·Challenges in preparing your content for single-sourcing for embedded and traditional output ·How standards like DITA support and enable this type of delivery.
Accessibility ensures that products and their documentation provide inclusive access to customers, regardless of their particular abilities. One dimension which frequently shuts out wide ranges of customers are national borders and the languages and conventions they denote. Internationalization is an accessibility issue in user interfaces and documentation. In several ways, it affects whether you can reach your customers.
Language can be:
Examples and forms can be:
This panel discussion of experienced international tech writers discusses these issues and more with examples and suggestions how to make technical communications more inclusive and hence more successful internationally.
Mission critical content is becoming more accessible and portable than ever due to the exploding sales of computer tablets and smart phones. All of these devices have reshaped customer expectations on how quickly updated technical content should become available. We also need to learn how to “reshape” content we create to be optimized for “the small screen.”
Although recent authoring tools have made ePubs creation less painful, most authors still continue to create content as if it were destined for paper, PDF or decent sized web pages. Just as content should be optimized for localization, it should also be optimized for the confines of the device it will be displayed on. Content creators need tools and a different viewpoint that will allow them to correctly shape content hand-held screens. Users of hand-held devices are often consuming content “on their feet,” with a much shorter attention span. Writing styles needs to change radically: thumb and finger gesture navigation used on smaller screens is also increasing reader irritation. Have you tried thumbing through a 12-item list on an iPhone?
Single-source publishing now often requires new strategies for a “short” and “long” version of content appropriate for different screen sizes. Maxwell will cover effective ways to use authoring tools to reuse as much content as possible for delivery to various platforms and how to break old writing habits designed for “page based” text delivery.
by Warren Singer and Gerry Cavander
Digital Assest Management (DAM) systems provide organisations with a centralised, comprehensive content management, version control system for their digital assets, as well as enabling the implementation of review and approval cycles on their projects. Technical communicators work with a wide range of company digital assets, from graphics, to brochures, videos, demos, guides, and many more asset types. DAM systems enable organisations to control their brand assets, tag them with metadata for search optimisation, set permission-based access to these assets and run reports on who has viewed and downloaded assets. Additional features enable features such as editing of content within the DAM system and notifications to users when assets are updated or changed or licenses expire. This session provides an overview of DAM systems and discusses how they can be implemented in your organisation.
by Scott Abel
by Tom Dumic
The meaning of sustainability depends on circumstances it is used in. According to the online Oxford Dictionary sustainable is defined as: 1. able to be maintained at a certain rate or level 2. able to be upheld or defended For the purposes of this presentation, the first definition of sustainable is used. “Sustainability in Technical Communication” doesn’t have the simplistic meaning of production of information in forms other than paper, something like electronic or web based formats. So what does it mean? To answer this question here are two scenarios and consider which is more sustainable: 1. The majority of technical communicators write developer (e.g. application design) and support documentation. A lot of time is spent interviewing developers to get the first version developed and released. Maintenance and release of subsequent versions is just as time consuming as producing the initial version. 2. Technical communicators design the content entry templates and tools leaving the developers to enter the information as part of their development process (e.g. integrated into JIRA workflow and using form based templates in a wiki-type plugin such as Confluence). The argument presented in this presentation is that the real benefits of sustainability in technical communication are in the overall information development and maintenance process, totally independent of what type of format the end user documentation is produced in – point two above. The processes and tools used throughout a development cycle or project should be designed with sustainability in mind and put in place before a project is started. This requires a cultural shift from developers, technical communicators and managers, but the benefits of sustainability can be measured financially and a good business case can normally be produced. This presentation will expand further on this concept.
by Lee Mullin
Technical support are on the front line, we get the calm, the angry, the novices and the experts. All of these users have very different needs, and technical support need to have lots of information at their fingertips to supply these users needs. This session will talk about the current needs of support staff and what we will need from developments like wikis, tooltips and videos.
WordPress is a well developed content management system that can be used to deliver many different types of websites. It's growing in popularity all the time - probably thanks to its ease of use and flexibility. But is it possible to build and maintain an accessible website using WordPress? This presentation will look at the factors involved - the good news to embrace and the pitfalls to avoid, and aims to show you how to present your content accessibly.
by Rob Scott-Norton
Technical communicators sometimes worry about the future of their roles as user-generated content grows, documents shrink, and agile methods make teams of “generalists”. But there are opportunities to use the skills that technical communicators possess – somewhere out there beyond the comfort zone. This story is one of how technical communicators were part of a key project team to manage thousands of customers through the transition to new software. From designing the earliest messages, planning and delivering both a customer and employee engagement plan, producing specialist materials for hundreds of conference attendees, all the way to inventing a robot. It is how the skills and knowledge of technical communicators can provide essential complement to those of product managers, marketing communicators, and technical support experts to produce something radically different from another help file. It is a story of what might just exist for you somewhere, a little beyond your comfort zone.
More and more companies are turning to collaborative tools and processes to broaden participation in content creation to include non-tech-writers. You don’t have to go as far as putting your documents on a publicly editable wiki to gain some of the benefits of this approach. For some, just opening up content creation with a company can be a radical step. You can more effectively set expectations and avoid pitfalls for such efforts by learning from the experiences of open source software documentation projects. I’ll provide perspectives from some projects I’ve been involved with and offer suggestions for those looking to explore community-generated content.
by Charlotte Branth Claussen
What is function – a goal, a facility, or a term for how something works? How can we say that broken things have a function? How do we recognize function? How about user differentiated functionality? Many similar questions could be asked. Writing my MA thesis, I examined how function could be interpreted and described, looking into design research, cognitive psychology, and technical philosophy. This presentation will indirectly take its point of departure in my thesis research, as I will extract some relevant ideas that may be of interest, if you work in usability or technical writing. Related examples will include three-dimensional objects as well as software.
by David Farbey
What does it mean to be a technical editor today? Do today's technical writers need an editor when there are so many programmes that check not just spelling but also grammar and style? How can you edit when you're producing short structured topics for an XML-based publishing? And how can you edit when your writers are always rushing to keep up with the current Agile sprint? Drawing on his recent experience as a developmental editor for a team of technical writers in a software company, David will try and answer all these questions and show how editors can add value to any company's bottom line.
2nd–4th October 2012