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.

Building a team to support proposal production in a large organisation

So, your organisation regularly churns out bids for technical equipment and services and your boss wants you to set up a team of specialist communicators to support this work. How do you decide what that team should look like? How do you plan, launch, develop, fine tune and finally manage that team in “steady state”?

In this session Fi will present several approaches to this challenge in large and complex organisations. She will illustrate these approaches with examples based on her experience building teams to support business and technical communications in the professional services, IT and telecommunications, and engineering sectors.

This session is delivered by Fi Parker.

Don’t manage: lead

Whatever the next step might be for your career, leadership will become increasingly important. Whether you are moving into a management role for the first time, have been managing for some years, or are looking for ideas about how to increase the influence and development of technical communication in your business, it is leadership that will protect you, and leadership that will open up new opportunities.

This presentation will make the case for focussing your energies and learning on developing your leadership habits, and will demonstrate what this means in the context of technical communication.

This session is delivered by Paul Ballard.

Embracing change: How two technical authors made their skills go further

Marilyn Heron and Nick Tonge give an insight into their varied roles at Pace plc, showing how these have extended beyond that of the traditional author. Using examples of their work in consumer electronics for the Americas market, they describe:

  • How they became responsible for designing the labelling on products and cartons. This led to:
    • input into product design
    • increased understanding of the manufacturing processes
    • discussions with suppliers
    • research into labels and materials
  • How they took over the design of carton artwork
  • How their typical authoring tasks changed, moving away from user manuals, words and paper.

This session is delivered by Marilyn Heron and Nick Tonge.

How to write persuasive business cases and proposals

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.

Digital accessibility: Strategy, content and delivery

Delivering content across different digital channels is an accepted part of today’s communication landscape. But how do you make sure your information is reaching everyone who wants (or needs) to access it?

This presentation will explain how to create a successful digital accessibility strategy. It will look at existing standards and frameworks, accessibility as part of agile and waterfall methodologies, and provide best practice guidance for accessible content across different platforms.

This session is delivered by Léonie Watson.

Working with product management – how important is the information experience?

How well do you know your product manager? Do they come to you to understand what the user experience is like when using the product and associated help? If not, then maybe it is time they should. According to the Product Development and Management Association (PDMA), products that deliver unique benefits and superior value to the customer are the primary drivers of success and product profitability. This doesn’t just relate to function, it also relates to the user experience as a whole, a massive part of that being how a user feels about the help and ‘documentation’ that is presented to them as part of that experience.

Sophie will discuss her experiences working with product management in terms of ensuring the right message is being delivered across the product, but also in making the product teams aware of the impact that the written word has on the user experience.

This session is delivered by Sophie McMonagle.

Planning user documentation when you are a startup business

In this presentation, we’ll look at how to plan a user documentation project when you’re working for a startup technology company. Working in this environment gives you the opportunity to work ‘from a clean sheet’, but it also has its own challenges of working in a dynamic and rapidly changing environment.

We’ll look at the issues around planning user documentation and the additional considerations when you are a startup. Your budget may be limited and the product or service in development may be constantly changing, so how should you work in this situation? What should you be developing, and what is the value of user documentation for a startup?

This session will cover:

  • What is different about working for a startup
  • Lean startup strategies
  • The value of user documentation for a startup and why should you provide it
  • How to document in this environment
  • What you should document
  • What you should measure
  • What to do when budgets are limited
  • What to do when there is no clear audience

This session is delivered by Ellis Pratt.

Managing as a freelance technical communicator

You leave office politics behind when you become freelance – but you find yourself taking on tasks that would previously have been carried out by others. As a small technical communication business, Clearly Stated has to manage time and resources, provide estimates and quotations, co-ordinate reviews with people over whom we have no control… and find time to actually do the work. All this ramped up a notch when I became an employer! You will find this session useful if you want to learn from my mistakes, or if you take on freelance technical communicators and want to avoid pitfalls.

This session is delivered by Alison Peck.