TCUK16 Speaker John Kearney – “Empathic Tech Comms: create better content with practical UX techniques”


John Kearney will be presenting at TCUK16 on “Empathic Tech Comms: create better content with practical UX techniques”.

John Kearney

Traditionally, we Technical Communicators don’t venture far outside our organisations. We rely too much on the experience and opinions of others, such as Product Managers, or second-hand user feedback in the form of bug reports.

In reality, of course, it’s the user experience that matters.
Perhaps you have several years in the profession under your belt. You’ve done your time writing user guides, online help, configuration instructions, and so on. Or maybe you’re a novice author, unscarred by the experience of wrestling with a quirky version control system or editing a 200+ page Word document. You may or may not have poked around the UX field.

UX is comparatively young when compared with Technical Communication, and it offers a fresh perspective that we can benefit from when answering that most important of questions, “What is the user need?” It has valuable techniques that we can combine with our traditional skills. In light of this, I will look at what I think are the most common problems when creating user assistance content, and the cultural challenges that face us when we try to change what’s delivered.

Using practical examples, I will then show which basic UX techniques can help reduce those problems and improve the value of our content. You can expect to hear such terms as topic-based authoring, personas, usability interviews, practical style guides and more. I believe it is this combination of UX and Technical Communication expertise that can help us create truly clear and effective user assistance.

About John Kearney

John became a Technical Author when funding for English Literature postgraduate work dried up. 19 years later, he’s still in the same career, which probably means it was the right decision.

He’s worked for many companies across many sectors, and has now settled back into a permanent role after a couple of years as a contractor. John discovered TCUK in 2009, and has attended every conference since. He is particularly interested in content quality, usability, and accessibility. You can follow him on Twitter if you really want to: @jk1440.

When he’s not doing his job, he can be found with his nose in a book, dancing, or on an archery field.

He is not as tall as some people think.