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Perhaps you have the perfect method to manage your work and obligations, but can it cope with the unexpected or help you plan for the future? New boss, clients or management practices. Illness. Job loss. Stress. Changing career or job advancement. Learning new skills in addition to doing your current job.
Karen and John will introduce the concept of getting things done (GTD) as it applies to today’s technical communicator. Then, participants will have hands-on activities (also pre-conference!) to start making some getting-things-done tweaks to their routines, both at work and at home. Takeaways include
- Testing your need for GTD
- Exercises to understand the most important concept of “Next Action” and the concept of “Closing the Loop”
- Demo of tools that support GTD
- GTD Tips and tricks
- The assurance that “your way” is still the best, especially after it’s GTD-charged!
by Murray Cox
In this session you'll be introduced to some of the techniques in the design thinkers toolkit.
There's no need for laptops as one of the key tenets of design thinking is learning by doing. Practical is the watchword here.
Design thinking emphasises the value of uncritical idea generation, and building on the ideas of others. You will be asked to stand and to participate. It might feel chaotic or uncomfortable, and that's when the magic will start to happen.
The idea is to showcase a handful of the dozens of tools and techniques that can help design thinkers solve problems, gain insights or innovate.
by Fi Parker and Martin Clark
The relationship between the Bid Manager and the Bid Writer is critical to the success of most bids. To explore this relationship, Fi and Martin will lead delegates on a tour of the bid life cycle, stopping at strategic points to discuss the position of these two professionals, their goals, needs and wants. As the tour progresses, delegates will develop a strategy for bid content development that will help them stand out amongst the crowd. They will also evaluate and adapt some of the tools bid managers and technical communicators use to help them maintain accuracy, speed and quality of work under pressure.
This workshop will benefit technical communicators interested in establishing themselves in the relatively lucrative world of bid writing. It will be of particular interest to those who would like to know what it’s like to work in a team on large and complex bids.
High-value content is a critical business asset, but our clients and employing organizations often don't realize the impact content can have on the overall customer experience - in particular, on purchase decisions and revenue, customer loyalty, and customer advocacy (the new business nirvana). And those who do recognize the impact typically have little or no skill and experience as content professionals.
What to do? Join Andrea for an exploration of the content ecosystem (content, experience, culture, process, and technology), and the critical factors across the ecosystem that can enable teams to design and deliver high-value content, communicate that to the business or client, and measure the impact. In this workshop you will learn about:
by Magda Caloian
You are considering migrating to DITA and would like to see a proof of concept, but don't know where to start? Bring your laptop to the DITA Pilot workshop and you'll see how quickly you can get started. We'll just follow a few steps:
1. Design phase:
- Identify use cases and task analysis
- Outline the information model and its modules
- Set up the project structure
2. Production phase:
- Writing the topics and the map
- Publishing PDF and HTML
It does not take long to be productive in DITA and to prove its value to your team. Take a running project back to the office with you and turn the DITA business case into reality with a demo for your colleagues.
- Knowledge of authoring DITA topics is an advantage, but not a must.
- Please bring your laptop.
by Neil Perlin
Help and web authoring once required programming knowledge until WYSIWYG tools emerged and let technical communicators create help and web sites. App development is now following the same path. WYSIWYG app tools now let technical communicators create apps. Is this a new opportunity for us?
This workshop introduces the mobile app space. We’ll look at types of apps that technical communicators might create. We’ll then create a simple app with no programming, using a tool called ViziApps. You’ll see how to add pages, navigation, email, and other features. You’ll be able to run the finished app on your phone in preview mode, without the app’s being published. You’ll leave with a sense of the app market, tools, design concepts, and a working app to demo.
Note – This workshop is a demonstration, but Neil will provide instructions for attendees who want to follow along and create the app on their laptops.
Vendor Exhibition and Fringe Events
Registration - welcome by TCUK Team members.
by David Farbey
Welcome by David Farbey.
We’re all professionals, with professional opinions about the content and layout we create. So when we hear ideas like “telling someone your design opinion is like telling them about your dreams”, it can be tempting to push back: we’ve spent a long time acquiring and honing those opinions, thank you very much. But when we espouse the professional opinion that a thing should be this way or that way, maybe we’re missing something. Being fundamentally stuck in ourselves, as ourselves, we cannot know what it’s like to be a first-time user of our software, or a customer searching our documentation. We know too much. The only yardstick that matters is whether real people can use our stuff. And the only way we’re going to find that out is by talking to them.
No budget? No user experience colleague? No problem. Chris will demonstrate some simple ways of getting started, persuading people to join you, and then scaling things up. She’ll give examples from redesigning the UK Visa application service on GOV.UK and iterative testing with non-native speakers of English. It can feel like a big challenge to sit down with someone and expose every part of your work to scrutiny — but it’s essential for building the right things. Chris, who is secretly a raging introvert, will discuss why it’s so important to make being uncomfortable a regular part of your job, and why doing so will reward you personally and professionally.
You already know (nearly) everything you need to know. Your users know everything else. Go talk to them.
As the KAL RTM, a new concept cashless cash machine, moves from prototype to production – we need to create a complete support package for its technical teams. But can online training and documentation solutions cut it when our partners deploy in remote destinations including Australian outback service stations, Filipino diveshops, and local stores in developing countries? Technicians will have no reliable internet connection and at times not even a phone signal. Any support delivered has to stand up for itself.
Join Bridget Khursheed on a real life journey into extreme support documentation.
by Doug Dennis
Many technical writers experience sudden, sometimes unsettling organisational change which affects their work and that of their associated teams. You might find yourself as part of a larger documentation team having to adapt to unfamiliar processes and tools, or placed under the spotlight as the sole technical writer in your organisation. As technical writer or documentation manager, how do we make ourselves and our teams resilient and flexible in the face of organisational change?
How can we cope when our company is acquired, merged or expanded? In this presentation we’ll discuss how promoting your team correctly, aligning them within the organisation and finding engineering pain points are some of the key factors to ensure success. We’ll also explore some of the challenges and opportunities of moving through multiple incarnations of a company, coping with change and how to keep your documentation set coherent throughout this time.
by Pallabi Roy
Traditional technical communication settings tend to provide the customers with large volumes of documentation for a product. But with product interfaces becoming increasingly easy and user-friendly, isn’t comprehensive documentation a waste of time and resources, and moreover, isn’t it an outmoded concept in an Agile setting? To tackle these issues, Pallabi will present a talk on how we can replace the traditional “Help/Manual” approach with a networking site built around the product.
In her presentation, Pallabi will explain the scope, challenges, and solutions of building a product networking site. With growing popularity of networking sites among the users, it will prove to be a trending approach to technical communication in the coming years.
You have an idea for a content project. What happens next? A content-related business case is an exercise in education more than anything else:
- Self-education: is your idea feasible? Are the benefits as clear as you think?
- Peer education: what change can colleagues expect and how will it affect them?
- Management education: what is the cost of change, versus maintaining the status quo?
This presentation explains why a business case is about more than pie charts and projections, and goes to the heart of the matter — helping decision makers realise the value of content.
by John Kearney
Content is not the sole domain of the Technical Communicator. Subject Matter Experts, Marketing Execs, Project Managers, Business Analysts, Admin Personnel... all these and more can and will create technical content to be consumed by others.
However, as these professionals often lack the specific skills to be found in the Technical Communication Toolbox, they often face massive content quality and management challenges. This is why we can and should be seen as more than writers of manuals.
During my career I’ve been lucky enough to work extensively outside the traditional parameters of Technical Communication. Among other activities, I’ve written functional design specifications, researched new technologies, created marketing collateral, run RFIs, edited bid documentation, designed project management methodologies. All these things and more are possible once we can understand and apply our specific set of skills.
I’d like to discuss what I think are the critical components of our toolbox, and how we can all apply these to break out of our traditional boundaries. In doing so, I’ll share with you some of my successes, my failures, and the lessons I've learned; beginning with my time in the Civil Service, and right the way through to my present career as a Tech Comms consultant in Cambridge. As an added bonus, I'll be drawing on examples of effective and ineffective user assistance from my hobbies, specifically archery and live-action roleplaying!
The field of technical communication is evolving rapidly and these developments are changing the very manner in which content is created, managed, published and distributed. Over the past few years, trends such as structured authoring and mobile publishing have become mainstream, whereas other shifts are taking root such as a desire among writers to understand how content is getting consumed by end users and to engage them. These shifts are in turn causing the role of the tech comm professional to change as well.
In this presentation, Kapil Verma, Group Marketing and Product Manager, Adobe Systems, will discuss how the role of the content professional has changed and will change in the future, and share insights from a recent worldwide survey done with the technical communicator community. He will also show how the new 2015 release of Adobe Technical Communication products can help you deal with these changes head on.
by Ron Blicq
Preparing a document that will be published separately in the US, UK, Canada or Australasia means tackling many more differences than just changing the spelling and general terminology. Factors involve punctuation, word choice, tone, use of ‘local’ expressions, interpretation of meaning, culture of the country, subjectivity and objectivity, page size, and numerous minor yet not insignificant items. Readers who encounter expressions that can be misinterpreted or simply not understood may downplay the importance of the information or comment disparagingly on the writer’s capability as a communicator.
by Ellis Pratt
Help in the User Interface – a case study in first user interaction and embedded Help formats
One of the problems with online Help is users have to stop what they’re doing and go to the online Help. In this session, we’ll look at two ways you can stop breaking the user’s flow – by providing “first user interaction Help” and “embedded Help”.
We’ll look at some of the different ways they are applied in software. We’ll also look at a project we worked on that involved implementing these forms of Help into a Web-based SaaS application.
by Dr. Anja Kellermann and Kelly White
Taking technical writing to the next level at SAP: As the cloud company, user experience is essential for SAP in attracting and retaining customers. User assistance is a key element of this and addresses how we help people to deploy, administer, use, and develop software. Key features include help directly in the interface, more multimedia content, the co-creation of content, and a presence in communities and social media.
This evolution of the technical writer to the user assistance professional leads us to ask:
• How does this impact our tasks and responsibilities?
• What training will we need?
• With shorter release cycles and pushed upgrades, how will our internal processes change?
by Carol Leahy
Historically, women are seen as better communicators compared to men yet the field of technical communication is pre-dominantly male. Why is this? Are males really better at communicating technical information?
This presentation will discuss gender within the technical communications field and if it really plays a role in making you a good or bad communicator. It will delve into the wider question of the need for more women in science and technology and how technical communicators, regardless of gender, can address this question and potentially build awareness of technical communications to the next generation.
by Mattias Sander
Do you ever feel like you’re spending too much time on administration? Do you want to work smarter to achieve “mind like water”?
Do you want to achieve flow by reducing waste? In this session you will learn how to apply some practical methods from Lean Manufacturing in the world of Technical Communication. Specifically you will learn how to use the Kanban TOC method, and how it helps you enable growth, reduce cost, and mitigate risk. In the short term, the Kanban TOC method reduces your administration effort, and in the long term, it helps you identify process improvements to maximize value for both your organization and your customers.
You will learn:
by Neil Perlin
Do you want to make legacy projects responsive, only to find that legacy writing and coding makes it difficult to convert to responsive design. What’s the solution? This session looks at:
- Responsive design’s technologies - relative sizing, fluid grids, and media queries.
- Legacy issues – local formatting, image styles, hand-formatted tables, and more.
- New issues – selecting images for different resolutions, srcset, and “movie” issues.
- The effect on writing and the “mobile first” philosophy.
The session is tool-independent but touches on how Flare and RoboHelp handle many tasks through the GUI. You’ll leave better prepared to convert legacy projects to responsive design.
Common online help formats (HTML Help, Java Help and Eclipse Help) look more and more old-fashioned. Although HTML Help is the only Microsoft help platform available for general application help, it is in maintenance mode. This means no new features are expected for either the runtime or the compiler. Many software houses make software manuals only available online. Besides having up-to-date content all the time, this gives users a huge advantage. Well-established web technologies for the collection and analysis of feedback can be used. Yet local online help still shines because of its strong interaction with the application and its offline availability.
The talk will show how you can overcome HTML Help and build a perfect online help system with HTML 5 and open source components that combines the advantages of both worlds.
This presentation will be delivered by Jörg Plöger - SCHEMA Sales Representative (Bremen, Germany).
by Murray Cox
Mention design thinking and many people will immediately start to dwell on aesthetic considerations, but in reality design thinking is an increasingly popular way to solve problems. At the core of design thinking is a focus on the end user or consumer of a piece of content, and it gives us a powerful toolkit with which we can reframe our approach to content and communications. Although a focus on the end user hardly sounds revolutionary, few businesses manage it well and fewer yet are properly equipped to do so. In this session, Murray will address why so many businesses have failed to put the user first and how they can change that using design thinking.
Vendor Exhibition and Fringe Events
It's no surprise to those of us working in technical and scientific fields -- in fact, just about ANY field -- that technical communication is (and always has been) changing. In our industry more than any, the only constant is change. And that change makes boundaries a very ambiguous concept. Sadly, human brains are wired to be habitual, and change makes us uncomfortable. But to move beyond survival in our industry to thrive and find great success, you must become comfortable with ambiguity and learn to love change. This keynote will help you to get started or to progress along your already change-embracing path. Expanding on the style of David Letterman and the Late Show Top Ten List, Andrea will describe her top 10 ways technical communicators should drive change and break boundaries...
by Farhad Patel
In today’s culture of instant gratification our customers prefer receiving small pieces of information, exactly what they need, when they need it. In order to keep up with customer expectations the Huawei documentation team planned and implemented a dynamic publishing solution to allow our customers to quickly locate, assemble and save personalized content. This session will cover important aspects of the information development process such as audience task analysis, user personas, use cases, reuse strategy, taxonomy and metadata strategy. The session will also demonstrate Huawei’s Dynamic Content Publishing solution showing its key features and functionality.
29th September to 1st October 2015