What you see is what you get: getting better visuals through design reviews

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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? Believe it or not, it’s not all about you and your creations. It’s actually about everyone else and getting their feedback.

In this workshop, you learn and practice a few ideas to help you keep your design looking professional and useful. We’re will run a design review on work that you create and revise in the session. Believe it or not, at least half of good visual design isn’t about you or what you create it’s about the feedback you get.

We’ll layout ground rules for a design critique session and then work through suggestions for getting the most meaning out of the feedback, without the ‘I just don’t like it.’ We’ll practice providing feedback on visual elements and help you overcome the ‘But I don’t know anything about that!’ for yourself and those reviewing your work.

So while you may not be an expert in visual design and would prefer to ‘just work with words’ come explore with us how you can do more with a little feedback.

This workshop is facilitated by Matt Pierce.

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The incremental steps towards dynamic and embedded content delivery

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Dynamic delivery is delivery of context-appropriate information that can be assembled at the time of request with the most up-to-date, relevant content appropriate for the user and interface in question.

Embedded content is where content becomes a seamless part of device interfaces. Products become “self-describing”, allowing users to work uninterrupted by the need to open help files or manuals.

Many aspire to working in this way, but few (so far) have achieved it. This workshop looks at the benefits, requirements, and barriers related to these new types of delivery.

We will look at:

  • Why should we bother with this type of delivery?
  • What type of techniques, technologies and skills are required to realise such a system?
  • What are the risks at each stage?

Requirements:

  • Laptop with MS Word-compatible editor
  • Ability to read from a USB stick

This workshop is facilitated by Noz Urbina.

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How to write persuasive business cases and proposals

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Persuasive writing is an important skill that cannot be taught too early. Business cases and proposals need agreement from others before you can move forward. Presenting your arguments clearly and persuasively will help you to get that agreement.

This workshop will show you how to develop this essential management skill. You will learn how to create business cases and proposals, with a good logical structure, which are easy to read and persuade readers to your point of view. We will also cover how to write for readers with different behavioural characteristics so that you can be sure that your key messages are absorbed by all of your readers.

The session will include highly enjoyable practical sessions and you will take away a number of checklists to use back at your desk.

This workshop is delivered by Alison Reeves.

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Bake your own taxonomy

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This workshop will give technical communicators a guided opportunity to develop a documentation structure, with the emphasis on doing justice to existing, unstructured content, rather than merely recreating the concept, task, and reference ‘holy trinity’ of topic types. Chris and Kai will outline basic principles of creating a taxonomy and an information model, drawing on cognitive science concepts like learning and mental models, to explain why standard topic types don’t always work, but why taxonomies do. They will also show how information models can be effective in making structured content easier to understand, and efficient for technical communicators to reuse. The workshop will give attendees practice at using physical media to turn unstructured content into structured documentation, at deducing and sketching out taxonomies based on existing content. Techniques such as card sorting may be of particular interest to attendees whose job roles touch on usability, user experience, or information architecture.

This workshop is facilitated by Chris Atherton and Kai Weber.

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Managing documentation projects in an Agile way

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Agile methods are increasing in popularity as an approach to project management and product delivery. Originating in computer systems development, the methods are now gaining acceptance for application in contexts other than information technology. Many organisations, across all sectors, are citing methods from the Agile family as assisting in delivering the right products and services at the right time.

This workshop will develop knowledge and understanding of Agile methods from two viewpoints: what a project manager will experience when managing projects using an Agile method and what technical communications professionals and customers will experience when working on a project managed using Agile methods.

John and Alasdair’s workshop will use a variety of workshop interventions and exercises to express ideas, engage the group and to facilitate knowledge and understanding of the Agile family of methods.

This workshop is facilitated by John Burns and Alasdair Bullivant.

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Developing KPIs

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KPIs (key performance indicators) are measures that help you manage your team’s activities, improve your content and communicate with your colleagues and customers. Even if KPIs aren’t part of your organisation’s culture, going through the process of developing them will sharpen up your strategy and ensure you and your team are focused on activities that really matter to the business.
This is a hands-on workshop, where you will spend most of the time working alone and in small groups and to come up with KPIs through exercises.
During the session you will:

  • learn about the characteristics of good KPIs
  • begin to develop KPIs relevant to your role

The workshop is suitable for anyone working as a technical communicator or managing a technical communications team.

This workshop is facilitated by Rachel Potts.

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