Conference Speakers

Conference Speakers

All talk videos will be published on our YouTube channel no later than 1 week after the conference.

Gideon Behrensmeyer

How and Why Technical Writers should Lead Onboarding

In this talk, I want to share with you my thoughts on how and why technical writers should drive the onboarding process in their company. In my role as Head of Documentation and Training, I realized that we had a problem with onboarding. Customers were taking too long to onboard and at the end of it, they didn’t really know how to use the product. After analyzing our customer onboarding sessions, I realized that much of the flow could be automated into content that turned the customer onboarding experience from a Support Agent-led experience to a self-service experience.

In this presentation, I will share with you my process for identifying information that can be converted into content to create a self-service onboard process for your customers. Through this process, we were able to reduce the amount of time it took to onboard customers and our users were able to achieve more at the end of their onboarding while using fewer resources.

The goal of this talk is to help you:

  • Onboard your customers faster with content
  • Reduce the effort it takes to onboard
  • Convert more users into champions

Eric Zrinsky

Clicks Without Limits: Content Design for Everyone, Everywhere

In this talk, titled "Clicks Without Limits: Content Design for Everyone, Everywhere," we explore the transformative power of accessibility in documentation. As technical writers, technologists, and people managers at AVEVA, we've spearheaded initiatives to integrate accessibility into our documentation and documentation portal. We’ve moved from a mere 50% WCAG compliance to nearly 97% WCAG compliance within months. This journey began with a challenge: our legacy portal was a maze of inaccessible content, post-merger. Fueled by a drive to make information universally accessible, we embarked on a mission to redefine our content strategy.

Our talk will detail practical steps taken to enhance accessibility, from implementing user-friendly widgets to incorporating alt-text in images and beyond. Attendees will learn about:

  • Integrating accessibility without disrupting existing workflows.
  • Leveraging user feedback to prioritize accessibility improvements.
  • Simple, impactful accessibility enhancements that can be applied immediately.

This session will resonate with documentarians seeking to make their content more inclusive, ensuring that our methods can be adapted regardless of the tools or platforms used.

Sarah Sanders

GraphQL Docs: Beyond the Schema

GraphQL Docs: Beyond the Schema proposes in how Technical Writers and DevEx teams approach GraphQL documentation. While GraphQL schemas are "self-documenting", developers want more than static docs and descriptions of queries and objects.

To challenge the notion that GraphQL documentation starts and ends with a schema, this session will advocate for interactive documentation as a solution. The presentation will start by defining interactive documentation. One example of interactive documentation is embedding usable code samples linked to users' sandbox environments, allowing them to test their integration directly from the docs. The goal is to inspire other Technical Writers and DevEx teams to think outside the box and provide rich experiences and tooling for their audiences.

Manny Silva

RAGs to Riches: How Our Content Affects Retrieval Augmented Generation

LLMs have a knowledge problem: their training data is often out of date, and the info we want to leverage often isn't included in the training data in the first place. Retrieval Augmented Generation (RAG) is an approach to dynamically give LLMs the information we need them to have right when we need them to have it. Want an LLM to know about your products, procedures, or users? RAG is the solution.

But how do docs affect RAG? Doc content, its formatting, and how it's processed all impact whether the LLM responds with knowledge and (reasonable) confidence or whether the response is full of hallucinations. Come learn about RAG, how technical communicators can make use of it, how our docs affect RAG performance, and what we can do to make sure our users (and our LLMs) get the content they need when they need it.

Gayathri Krishnaswamy

Annette Williams

Navigating the Maze: Strategies for Successful Documentation Planning

A documentation plan outlines an approach for creating, organizing, and maintaining documentation for a software product. It serves as a blueprint for the documentation process, detailing the scope, content types, user journeys, priorities, and content involved in creating comprehensive documentation for the product.

At OutSystems, until recently, we adopted a feature-driven approach without a solid documentation plan for documenting product enhancements. This approach was less user-centric and more product-focused, leading to limited collaboration with teams like UX or training. As a result, our documentation was less comprehensive, and felt disconnected from the user's journey throughout the product.

Hence, early last year, for all our significant product enhancements and new features, we started developing a comprehensive documentation plan that resembled the real-life journey of an OutSystems user. This involved close collaboration with the Research and Development (R&D), UX, and training teams, which helped us gain insights into our users' needs. This increased understanding enabled us to create a more user-centric documentation set that enhanced our product's usability and contributed to a positive user experience.

Based on our experiences, we'll present how developing a solid documentation plan enabled us to:

  • Spend adequate time researching and mapping the user journey before creating our first drafts.
  • Prioritize content delivery so the team does not face burnout and still delivers the most helpful content to our users.
  • Deliver content that covers the user's knowledge needs.

The cherry on top is that we will share a usable template of our documentation plan that you can readily use for your documentation projects.

Chloe Guttmann

From morphemes to manuscripts: How linguistics can make you a better writer

As documentarians and writers, we use language every day—but do we really understand it on a fundamental level?

Linguistics is the study of language. That’s pretty broad though—not everyone realizes it, but there are many subsets of the field. In this talk, you'll learn how each branch of linguistics can help you write and communicate more effectively:

  • Semantics: Logic and meaning
  • Do you know the difference between vague and ambiguous writing?
  • Syntax: The structure of sentences
  • What is a complementizer and why should you use them?
  • Sociolinguistics: Social factors like class, race, and gender
  • Your teachers were wrong about a lot of things. You can in fact end a sentence in a preposition!
  • Morphology: Word formation
  • When you write, do you ever think about how some words in English can mean multiple things? (Spoiler: this is called syncretism)

You’ll learn through many real-life examples to guide you beyond theory and into practice. Even if you’ve never learned about linguistics before, images and metaphors throughout the presentation will help solidify concepts. The perfect attendee is anyone who communicates at work; no need to be a linguist, or even a technical writer.

Ultimately, you’ll learn how to communicate efficiently, unambiguously, and accessibly. By the end of the talk, you’ll feel challenged and energized to continue learning about how language fundamentally works.

Ali D

What's in a Word? Lessons from Localizing Kubernetes Documentation to Arabic

Translating technical documentation presents challenges in preserving contextual meaning across languages and cultures. This talk explores strategies from the pioneering effort to localize Kubernetes documentation into Arabic - a language rich in traditions but nascent in modern software contexts.

Through examples and personal experiences, Ali Dowair will share lessons on translating complex technical concepts, jargon, idioms, and abbreviations into Arabic. You'll gain perspectives on recreating shared understanding, balancing language conventions with audience familiarity, and expressing technical ideas across cultural spheres.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Making documentation accessible across languages and cultures
  2. Approaches for translating technical terms into languages with varying cultural roots
  3. Bridging linguistic gaps to recreate contextual meaning
  4. Balancing formal standards with audience comprehension
  5. Enriching technical communication by uniting diverse linguistic heritages

Whether localizing docs or collaborating across languages, this talk provides a roadmap for fostering inclusive communication through thoughtful translation.

Lorna Mitchell

DevOps Your Docs

Take the tools of software development, the process and culture obsession of operations, and apply the resulting mixture to your documentation. In this talk we'll cover how modern software practices are lending themselves to documentation projects, and how you can add these ingredients to your own projects. To collaborate safely across complex projects, use source control and gain the side benefits of clear changesets with attribution. To ensure the finished product is up to scratch, automate quality checks such as link checking, validation and formatting. To empower all contributors to work efficiently, invest time and effort in their skillsets and the tools they use, as well as in the CI pipeline. Bring the best bits of modern technology to your pipeline and learn how to DevOps your documentation; this talk is ideal for writers of all levels, and project leads.

Diana Breza

Lena Larionova

We’re writers, not designers: Unblocking your organization with diagrams-as-code

Documentarian. Tooling guru. Website maintainer. Graphic designer.

These are all things Kong’s team of three technical writers are responsible for. As release cadence increased, we found we had less time for all these other “hats” that writers wear, but demand for technical diagrams in our docs was still growing. After testing out tools built for graphic designers and hacky Google Slide diagram workarounds, we knew we needed a solution that would make it easier to create, maintain, and share diagrams.

This pivotal decision led us to embrace Mermaid.js, an open-source Java Script library that simplifies diagram creation through a markdown-like syntax. This tool was perfectly suited for our small, agile team, enabling us to produce easy-to-maintain diagrams efficiently. The straightforward usability of Mermaid.js facilitated its rapid adoption not only within our docs team, but also across various departments. Its integration reached beyond internal processes; even some of our customers took notice and incorporated it into their docs and our engineering team added it to one of our products.

This presentation delves deeper than just discussing Mermaid.js as a tool. It explores how innovative thinking can empower docs teams to influence far-reaching aspects of a business. We’ll examine how our small team’s shift in approach not only enhanced our docs, but sparked changes in product development and customer engagement. Through our case study of adopting Mermaid.js, we aim to demonstrate that stepping outside of conventional boundaries can lead to substantial organizational impacts, illustrating the profound influence that docs writers can have beyond just documentation.

Kruno Golubić

Welcome to the World of Technical Writing: A Guide for Newcomers

Breaking into the field of technical writing can be somewhat scary for newcomers, but there’s no reason for that. This talk is tailored for those who are new to technical writing or considering a career in it. Drawing from my own experiences, I will share practical tips and essential insights that I’ve learned along the way.

Small things can make a huge difference and make your work easier and more enjoyable:

  • Creating effective naming conventions for files, issues, and tickets to streamline documentation.
  • The importance of well-written ticket assignments and what they should include.
  • Working with other teams (visual designers, marketing, etc.).
  • Strategies for dealing with insufficient information and how to seek clarity.
  • Best practices for asking subject matter experts (SMEs) for additional details.

Don't be afraid to enter the kingdom of technical writing—there is room for everyone here!

Oisín FitzGerald

Pull it together! How we unified software and hardware documentation to create a consistent user experience.

Integrating a diverse array of documentation into a cohesive user experience can be a daunting task, especially when multiple markup languages and processes are involved. At our company, we faced the challenge of maintaining our established documentation practices—specifically, our partially open-source SDK documentation and our hardware documentation, which were historically handled separately and with different systems. Despite these differences, we aimed to provide a consistent look and feel across all documentation without altering our internal workflows.

In this talk, I will detail how we successfully unified our documentation experience while maintaining our distinct internal documentation processes and standardizing the output. This strategy ensured that while our technical teams could continue working in their preferred methods and languages, the end result was a seamless and integrated user experience.

Susan Armstrong

What Is a Template and How Can I Create One

We use Templates in our documentation to force a similar style on the sections and pages of our documents so that the only difference is the content. This uniformity makes it easier for our readers to scan our documents. It also makes it easier for Search Engines to parse them. And, incidentally, it makes it easier for us to write them.

At its most basic, a Template lays out information that provides an outline for a document type or subtype. A template for a Programmer's Guide is its outline. A HowTos’ template defines the HowTo’s approach on how to use the product's features, preferably in the order in which they would be used to get the product up and running. A feature’s template is a list of Tutorials on how to use the feature (again, in the order in which to use them). A Tutorial template (among the smallest particles of a document) provides common sections that outline how to prepare for and perform one or more related tasks to accomplish one goal in using one feature.

In this presentation, I intend to:

  • Describe Tutorial templates. Since they are more universal in nature and less dependent on the contents of the product, they can be more easily presented in a more detailed form than other Templates types.
  • Provide examples of Tutorials from the mid-20th century to today.
  • Provide background information on why I believe the Tutorial Templates I will show you are among the best.