Facebook, Dynamite, Uber, Bombs, and You
Most industries have had what we might call an oh-no moment. It's those moments that encourage industries to become better regulated, in order to prevent further disasters. The IT industry has had many moments that could be considered consequential enough to encourage better regulation, but the changes have never been made. Because the industry has avoided effective regulation for so long, it is possible that we are hurtling towards a disaster of epic proportions, one that we haven't even managed to conceive of yet.
In this talk, I will go through some historical examples of disasters leading to regulation in other industries, and the measures that were put into place to mitigate the problem. I will also address some of the major moments from the IT industry that should have prompted regulation, and haven't. Finally, I will discuss ways that documentation professionals are uniquely placed to identify, and potentially blow the whistle on, potential disasters before they happen.
Responsive Content - Presenting Your information On Any Device
Creating high quality and engaging content is a challenge, but finding ways to present that content to readers on a vast array of devices and hardware has been even more problematic. This session will explore best practices for enabling your content to automatically adapt to various computers, browsers, devices, and platforms. This is a rapidly changing area.
In this presentation Mike will cover the most recent developments in the industry that have made responsive content presentation much easier for content authors. Mike will visit the concept of Media Queries and compare that with the newer and easier techniques such as using the FlexBox Model. It has never been easier to ensure that your content is presented to your reader in an optimized manner.
The Art of Consistency - Creating an inhouse style guide
For any business that’s producing a lot of documentation from a lot of hands, a style guide is a necessity. It can provide consistent quality across documents, and over time it can lift the writing standard within your organisation.
This talk will aim to cover:
- What does your style guide need to contain?
- What are the pitfalls that you need to consider?
- How do you communicate the style guide across the organisation?
UX writing - Let your product speak
The most common perception around the term UX writing is that it only includes microcopy for the user interfaces. However, that is not correct. Writing snappy messages on the UI is only a part of it; more important aspect is developing a voice for the product and imbibing that voice in your content (UX, help, knowledge base, etc).
This talk covers some of the necessary skills required for being good at UX writing and how these skills help us in designing a better product experience. Whether be it the decision of keeping the tone professional vs casual or using title case vs sentence case, decisions must be taken based on the audience and should always be in-context.
And yea, one last thing, technical writers are/can be great UX writers!
Making Yourself Redundant on Day One - Internal documentation to teach the next hire what you've learned
The first few weeks at a new job are hard. There seem to be too many questions and not enough answers, and so much assumed knowledge about the company you joined and the products they make.
I’m going to talk about how you can make those first few weeks your most productive and valuable to your new company. By writing internal documentation that answers all the questions only someone new on the block knows to ask, you can help pave the way for new hires in the future, and even help identify and solve customer pain points.
Drawing from my own experiences working as an intern and support agent among highly technical teams, I will go over deciding what to document based on the level of technical proficiency you would expect the reader to have, how to use tone to convey the company’s spirit and keep a future reader interested, and how to future-proof your internal documentation so it doesn’t stop being updated when you move on.
Workshop - Tech Writing 101
As part of the Write the Docs Australia 2018 conference, we’re running a two-hour workshop on the principles and techniques of technical writing.
The workshop leads you through a series of pair-work exercises to improve the clarity, readability, and effectiveness of your writing. You’ll learn from an experienced Google technical writer and from each other.
Good Code, Bad Code & Code Review
Code review is the duty of every developer in a team. We are the guards of the mystical “good” code and defenders against evil technical debt. It’s universally agreed that it’s easy to spot “bad” code and much harder to determine “good” code.
I’m going to share some of my experiences working on a team producing a large amount of code every day, with few reviewers. We’ll dive into looking for smart architectural and design decisions, coherently understanding what problem the author intended to solve and understanding how they implemented a solution.
I’ll touch on automating away the most common issues within Code Review and pulling the technical brains out of your team mates into great documentation. Most importantly we’ll talk about the human side of code review and how to manage code review within large and small teams. Code review helps our teams grow institutional knowledge and shared understanding of the systems we build together. A strong understanding of how to review code will help you to write better code and help you help your teammates to write better code.
The subtle art of interrogation
You have to write some docs. To do this, you need information from other people.
Except that they're too busy, or in another office, or another timezone, or they just don't want to help. What do you do?
This talk will look at the psychology behind why we often don't get the help we ask for, how we can work with what we've got, and ways we can get information out of unwilling participants, in spite of themselves!
Creating experiences with information!
I’ll walk through how my team and I create an information experience that feels human, helpful, and how we know if it’s successful. Part of that experience bridges the information gap between the messages you receive before you log into an Atlassian product and the messages you receive in the form of:
- Introductory states
- Blank states
- Directional and instructive text in the app
- UI copy and it's connection to user expectations and perceptions
- Documentation and how it supports different functional journeys
We’ll cover how working ahead of time with our marketing, content, and brand teams allows us to know and influence user expectations throughout their early journey. We’ll also talk about how far we have yet to go.
Backseat Content Strategy
Over the course of 2018 I planned and helped execute a complete, ongoing rewrite of about 1000 pages of documentation - changing the markup language, the focus (feature to user story), and the structure (linear to modular) - without actually being in charge of strategy, scheduling, tooling, or content.
This talk charts the process and provides recommendations for others attempting to instigate massive change on multiple fronts.
Power up your support team to create better documentation
Software support teams are in a tough spot. They know documentation is important, and they love to refer customers to it, but finding time to actually write and maintain those documents is *really* hard.
That endless support queue and its ceaseless demand for attention mean that documentation is too often ignored. Mat shares his hard earned practical advice to help technical writers and support team knowledge base owners create a more effective documentation system.
Learn why documentation falls behind, how to reduce support writing friction and how other SaaS teams have made support an engine for great documentation.
Workshop - Let's create a Style Guide!
This workshop is for writers who have never used, or don't currently have, a Style Guide in place. We'll briefly cover the purpose and importance of having a Style Guide, and then launch into creating a Style Guide on the spot, through a collaborative workshop.
Participants will walk away with an initial Style Guide that can be implemented and expanded upon, if desired.
Workshop - Static Site Generators, What, Why and How
As many documentation teams move towards a docs-as-code workflow, most are turning to static site generators like Jekyll, Sphynx, Hugo, or GitBook to turn that 'code' into user-facing documentation websites. In this mini-workshop, you'll get an introduction to the static site generator landscape, and apply what you learn by publishing your own site in class. We'll cover:
- How static site generators work
- Comparison of popular generators, with guidelines for choosing one for your next project
- Hands-on editing and publishing of your own statically generated portfolio website