Technical Communication UK 2018

The Technical Communication UK (http://technicalcommunicationuk.com) 2018 conference was in Daventry, 25-27 September. Mike Unwalla gives this summary.

The presentation slides are on http://technicalcommunicationuk.com/?page_id=8577.

Reviews of these presentations will be in Communicator, winter 2018:

Using text, images, and video in technical communication

Speaker: Ferry Vermeulen, INSTRKTIV (https://instrktiv.com/en/)

The technical communicators at INSTRKTIV wrote more than 2000 manuals.

From an analysis of the manuals, INSTRKTIV developed 18 guidelines for choosing whether to use text, images, or video. You can read the guidelines on https://instrktiv.com/en/blog/usability/using-video-text-images/.

Ferry spoke about the guidelines in a case study about Leitz (www.leitz.com).

The Leitz manuals were produced by a design agency. The manuals did not comply with EU legislation and they did not contain video.

Leitz sold its products on Amazon, and the sales started to decrease. In 2015, Leitz products were not permitted to go into Portugal, because the documentation did not comply with the legal requirements. People in Leitz searched the internet, and found INSTRKTIV.

INSTRKTIV used the guidelines to develop a set of manuals:

The 18 guidelines are a good aid to deciding when to use text, images, and video. The case study shows that it is not always possible to do what you want. (Legal requirements make you supply some documents as printed text.)

Four functions in the structure of technical documentation (and why they matter)

Speaker: Daniele Procida, Divio (www.divio.com)

Many software development projects do not have good documentation.

Daniele said that documentation is made of four things:

This model saves much time for a technical writer, because each part of a document has only one function. The model is an idealization, and overlaps occur.

For a full discussion, refer to Daniele's article 'What nobody tells you about documentation' (www.divio.com/blog/documentation).

I asked Daniele about the similarities and differences between the Divio model and other models such as Information Mapping and DITA. He said that the method is very practical and easy to understand compared with DITA.

Creating great customer experiences through outstanding technical support and content

Speaker: Ciarán Dunne, Arm (www.arm.com)

Approximately 70% of the people in the world use Arm technology.

Arm Support Services is Ciarán's department. It has 65 technical writers.

Arm Support Services developed a technical communication strategy project, which was a change programme. Some questions that it answered were as follows:

The change programme increased the 'employee engagement', the customer satisfaction for technical content, and the quantity of content reuse. But, the change programme did not solve all problems. These problems remain:

A customer comes to Arm with a problem. The sequence to get an answer is as follows: website > phone, instant messaging, or e-mail > on-site training > consulting services.

Arm must think differently about how to help its customers.

To set the customer expectations is very important. If an organization does not set the expectations, the customer will set the expectations.

Arm's next step is to "focus on creating ongoing customer success."

From docs to bots; find your passion & get a career makeover

Speaker: Toni Byrd-Ressaire, Info4Design (https://info4design.com/)

How do you find your 'dream career'? Toni suggested that you think about the dreams that you had as a child. What did you want to do?

Toni changed careers many times. She was a journalist. She edited text and did layout and design. She published a magazine. She taught technical communication at a university.

Much information is stored in Content Management Systems. Toni became interested in how to supply information to machines. Toni became interested in these topics:

Toni's company, Info4Design develops chatbots. People in the audience used the chatbot on https://info4design.com/index.php/tcuk/. Data from the chatbot conversations was automatically put into a spreadsheet. The data was used to select some people to help in a demonstration.

The demonstration was a good example of how we cannot think about all possible events. Toni gave one person a model robot made from Lego. While Toni spoke, the person disassembled the robot. Before Toni continued the demonstration, she had to assemble the robot again.

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