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UA Europe Conference
UA Europe Conference, 4-5 June, Southampton, UK

The Conference for
Software User Assistance
Professionals

Produced by:

   UA Europe logo

in association with:

WritersUA logo

UA Europe 2015 in Southampton, UK

Conference overview

Photo of UA Europe 2015 venue: Grand Harbour Hotel, Southampton

UA Europe 2015 took place at the 4-star Grand Harbour Hotel on the waterfront in the historic port city of Southampton.

Conference topics included:
How to do usability testing * Taking collaboration to a new level * Improving the findability of user assistance * Exploiting the full potential of DITA * Making Help look simple * The truly Agile technical writer * Making your content ready for the global market * Building a brilliant business case for content * Cloud-based user assistance * Tools and techniques for creating responsive web content * Managing projects using Kanban TOCs * How to become a successful knowledge manager * Introduction to Information Architecture * Choosing the right path through the future of user assistance * Applying ultra-light travel concepts to content

Steve Krug presented a common-sense approach to the design of user assistance at UA Europe 2015

Photo of Steve Krug

We were delighted that Steve Krug, author of Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability presented two sessions at UA Europe 2015 in Southampton.

During his opening keynote, Steve conducted a live usability test on some real-life user assistance. And later in the conference, Steve discussed with Matthew Ellison the challenges they both experienced while working together to design the user assistance for a pioneering new software application.

Steve is internationally renowned and highly respected for his down-to-earth guidance on how to make web content easier to use. His books are based on the 20+ years he's spent as a usability consultant for a wide variety of clients including Apple, Bloomberg.com, Lexus.com, NPR, the International Monetary Fund, and many others.

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Speakers at UA Europe 2015

Photograph of Thomas Bro-Rasmussen
Thomas
Bro-Rasmussen
Photograph of Priscilla Buckley
Priscilla
Buckley
Photograph of Colette Clenaghan
Colette
Clenaghan
Photograph of Matthew Ellison
Matthew
Ellison
Photograph of Juliette Fleming
Juliette
Fleming
Photograph of Leah Guren
Leah
Guren
Photograph of Rachel Johnston
Rachel
Johnston
Photograph of Pawel Kowaluk
Pawel
Kowaluk
Photograph of Steve Krug
Steve
Krug
Photograph of Ulrike Parson
Ulrike
Parson
Photograph of Mattias Sander
Mattias
Sander
Photograph of Dr Tony Self
Tony
Self
Photograph of Paula R. Stern
Paula R.
Stern
Photograph of David Stula
David
Stula
Photograph of Daniel Szűcs
Daniel
Szűcs
Photograph of Michael Zwecker
Michael
Zwecker
Photograph of Thomas Bro-Rasmussen
Thomas
Bro-Rasmussen
Photograph of Priscilla Buckley
Priscilla
Buckley
Photograph of Colette Clenaghan
Colette
Clenaghan
Photograph of Matthew Ellison
Matthew
Ellison
Photograph of Juliette Fleming
Juliette
Fleming
Photograph of Leah Guren
Leah
Guren
Photograph of Rachel Johnston
Rachel
Johnston
Photograph of Pawel Kowaluk
Pawel
Kowaluk
Photograph of Steve Krug
Steve
Krug
Photograph of Ulrike Parson
Ulrike
Parson
Photograph of Mattias Sander
Mattias
Sander
Photograph of Dr Tony Self
Tony
Self
Photograph of Paula R. Stern
Paula R.
Stern
Photograph of David Stula
David
Stula
Photograph of Daniel Szűcs
Daniel
Szűcs
Photograph of Michael Zwecker
Michael
Zwecker

 

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Thomas Bro-Rasmussen (GN Otometrics)

Photograph of Thomas Bro-Rasmussen

Based in Denmark, Thomas is currently Localization Manager at GN Otometrics. He has more than 20 years of experience as a consultant on assignments relating to user assistance and single sourcing. His expertise covers a wide-ranging portfolio of tools, including products from Corel, Adobe, Madcap Software, Quadralay, and others. He is highly experienced in dealing with the "loose ends" that are needed to comply with a successful production environment, where deadlines have to be met and quality has to be maintained. Thomas has an M.Sc in Science and Human Physiology, but has devoted his working career to help people with their "computer problems".

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Priscilla Buckley (SAP)

Photograph of Priscilla Buckley

Based in the south of France, Priscilla is a Knowledge Architect at SAP. Her two main hats are overseeing and communicating about the evolution of SAP's IXIASOFT DITA CMS environment, and helping to design the vision for next-generation UA.

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Colette Clenaghan (NCR)

Photograph of Colette Clenaghan

Colette has been working at NCR FSG Ltd for more than a decade as a technical author, having moved into technical documentation by a circuitous route of teaching, programming and freelance writing. Her goal is clear and unambiguous communication. Colette's focus is to keep in mind the user who sometimes disappears from view in the technological hurly burly of software development.

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Matthew Ellison (UA Europe)

Photograph of Matthew Ellison

Matthew has over 25 years of experience as a user assistance professional in the software industry. Much of this time was spent managing a team of writers and trainers at a UK-based consultancy company, before enjoying a period in the US as Director of the WritersUA Conference.

Matthew has been a highly rated and respected speaker at conferences and training events throughout the world since 1997, and has covered a diverse range of topics from context-sensitive Help, to the Spice Girls! He now runs UA Europe, an independent UK-based training and consulting company that specialises in user assistance design and technology.

Matthew holds a B.Sc. in Electronic Engineering and a Post-Graduate Certificate of Education from Bristol University in the UK. In 2009 he was the winner of the prestigious Horace Hockley award that is presented annually by the Institute of Scientific and Technical Communicators (ISTC). In addition to his various consulting assignments for UA Europe, Matthew has been a visiting lecturer on the MA Technical Communication course at Portsmouth University. He is an Adobe Community Professional, and a certified instructor for MadCap Flare and EC Software's Help & Manual.

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Juliette Fleming (Oracle)

Photograph of Juliette Fleming

Juliette has worked in information development for more than 20 years. She currently works on user assistance for Oracle Applications Cloud, including design of the help system, and standards for help content.

 

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Leah Guren (Cow TC)

Photograph of Leah Guren

Leah is the owner/operator of Cow TC. She has been active in the field of technical communication since 1980 as a writer, manager, and consultant. She now devotes her time to consulting on content development and usability, and teaching courses and workshops in technical communication internationally. Her clients include some of the top high-tech and biotech companies, including Intel, IBM, Microsoft, Johnson & Johnson, RAD, Cisco, Given Imaging, and Rambam Medical Center. Leah is an internationally-recognized speaker in the field of technical communication and is a Fellow in STC (Society for Technical Communication).

 

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Rachel Johnston (Mekon)

Photograph of Rachel Johnston

Rachel Johnston is a consultant for Mekon, helping businesses to negotiate the changing landscape of information development and modernise their content while keeping their sanity.

As a former technical writer with over ten years’ experience she’s still close to the profession and understands the challenges facing documentation teams. Rachel regularly works with authors on the ground to understand the change management, workflow and training needs involved in the move to structured authoring. She has written content for the NHS, Expert-24 (medical algorithms) and Infor, one of the world’s largest ERP providers, but also Openbravo (ERP), Donovan Data Systems, and SurfControl.

 

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Pawel Kowaluk (Motorola Solutions)

Photograph of Pawel Kowaluk

Pawel Kowaluk is an innovator in the field of technical communication. Working as project manager at Motorola Solutions Inc. in Krakow, Poland, overseeing the creation of new learning products as well as the upgrade of tools and processes. Pawel is also the co-founder of soap! technical communication and a board member at ITCQF. He is dedicated to pursuing new paths in technical communication and developing the scene in Poland.

 

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Steve Krug (Advanced Common Sensesm)

Photograph of Steve Krug

Steve Krug (pronounced “kroog”) is best known as the author of Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, now in its third edition with over 400,000 copies in print. Ten years later, he finally gathered enough energy to write another one: the usability testing handbook Rocket Surgery Made Easy: The Do-It-Yourself Guide to Finding and Fixing Usability Problems.

The books were based on the 20+ years he’s spent as a usability consultant for a wide variety of clients like Apple, Bloomberg.com, Lexus.com, NPR, the International Monetary Fund, and many others.

His consulting firm, Advanced Common Sense (“just me and a few well-placed mirrors”) is based in Chestnut Hill, MA. Steve currently spends most of his time teaching usability workshops, consulting, and watching old episodes of Law and Order.

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Mattias Sander (SimCorp)

Photograph of Mattias Sander

Mattias is a technical communicator in the financial services industry, with a background in engineering. He thrives on creating simple and pragmatic solutions to big and complex problems and enjoys combining his technical skills with his passion for technical communication.

Mattias holds a M. Sc. in Industrial Engineering and Management from the Faculty of Engineering at Lund University and has five years of experience in writing software documentation for one of the world's leading investment management systems. His solid technical foundation and his strong writing and design skills allow Mattias to develop high-quality technical information which is easy to use, easy to understand, and easy to find—and even easy to create, thanks to a little bit of easy programming.

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Ulrike Parson (parson AG)

Photograph of Ulrike Parson

Ulrike is the CEO of parson AG, which is based in Hamburg, Germany. She looks back on almost 20 years of professional experience in technical writing. She is specialized in writing documentation for software engineers, agile project management, and consulting for knowledge management and XML-based authoring. The clients of parson include international and regional companies from various branches, such as software development, semiconductors, logistics, education, and healthcare.

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Dr Tony Self (HyperWrite)

Photograph of Dr. Tony Self

Based in Melbourne, Australia, Dr Tony Self has over 30 years of experience as a technical communicator. For over 20 years, Tony has worked in the areas of online help systems, computer-based training, and electronic documents.

In 1993, he founded HyperWrite, a company providing training and consultancy in structured authoring, Help systems, DITA, and technology strategy. Tony completed his PhD in semantic mark-up languages in 2011, and his book The DITA Style Guide was published in the same year. He is an adjunct teaching fellow at Swinburne University, and a past winner of the ISTC’s Horace Hockley award. Tony is a member of the OASIS DITA Technical Committee (and chair of the DITA Help Subcommittee).

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Paula R. Stern (WritePoint Ltd.)

Photograph of Paula R. Stern

Paula is the CEO of WritePoint Ltd. (www.writepoint.com), a leading technical writing company in Israel. Paula has been a technical writer for more than 20 years and has worked with a variety of tools. She opened the WritePoint Training Center in 2004 and has been sharing her knowledge of technical writing, social media, help authoring tools, and more, ever since. You can follow Paula on her company blog (www.writepoint.com/blog) and on her personal blog (www.paulasays.com). She can be reached at paula@writepoint.com.

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David Stula (Kentico)

Photograph of David Stula

David works at Kentico, a digital marketing software vendor headquartered in the Czech Republic. Over the past six years of working in software development, he has gained experience as a tester, technical writer, and scrum master, and has become an advocate for agile methodologies and user experience. Currently, David oversees the training and documentation teams, trying to effectively educate Kentico’s customers and provide them with high quality documentation. As part of the Customer Success team at Kentico, he also works at bridging the gap between technical support, training, and documentation teams.

In his free time, David likes to study technical documentation for various rockets and spacecraft. He also plays drums in a rock band.

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Daniel Szűcs (LogMeIn)

Photograph of Daniel Szűcs

Daniel is a veteran of the localization industry, having worked in recent years as a Language Engineer and Localization Solutions Architect at Milengo and espell. Daniel currently applies his skills as Technical Writer and Toolmaster at LogMeIn. He is the chief developer of swing, LogMeIn’s own DITA automation tool.

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Michael Zwecker (LogMeIn)

Photograph of Michael Zwecker

Michael has been a writer and user assistance professional for over 15 years, the last seven at LogMeIn where he serves as Director of User Assistance, managing a team of technical writers and localization project managers. Michael planned and executed LogMeIn’s migration to DITA XML.

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UA Europe 2015 Sessions

On day 1 of the conference, one of the two optional session tracks focused on the Agile methodology.

Sessions in Agile Development track (Thursday afternoon)

General sessions

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Sessions in Agile Development

Moving to Agile: more limping than sprinting

Colette Clenaghan (NCR)

Agile is now used everywhere for software development but for many it remains more a term of acquaintance than a daily reality. This session looks at the way one company moved from the waterfall method of developing software to Agile, the issues that arose for documentation and the issues that were encountered along the way.

Delegates learned:

  • What were the perceptions that team members had of Agile
  • About the two very different projects that now use the Agile framework
  • What difficulties were encountered when trying to produce user documentation in the Agile environment
  • Which solutions worked best for us

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The Truly Agile Technical Writer

David Stula (Kentico Software)

A lot of computer software workers, including user assistance professionals, claim they work in an agile team, yet they openly admit that they do not adhere to one or more of the agile principles. In this presentation, David will discuss how Kentico development teams adopted Scrum, and give advice on how to survive as a technical writer in a fast paced, rapidly changing environment, where sometimes you have to document the software before even seeing a working prototype.

Delegates learned:

  • How to prepare for a sprint
  • How to manage your time to make sure documentation is delivered at the end of each sprint
  • How important it is to be in regular contact with developers
  • How to address the challenge of supporting more than one agile team

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Global Goes Agile

Paula R. Stern (WritePoint Ltd. )

The roles of developers, managers, and QA in an Agile environment are well defined. However, documentation's role and function exist in a parallel channel, presenting additional challenges and requirements for the company. In this case study, we present the case of one mid-sized company in Israel that purchased three additional companies and moved to a unified look and feel—and more importantly, to an Agile development cycle. From four separate documentation sets, using three different tools, we moved to one tool and one Agile set of releases. How the technical writers were included in the meetings and time schedules and what worked and what didn't, will be presented in detail.

Delegates learned:

  • How four companies with four different sets of documentation were centralised within a new Agile environment
  • How documentation was fitted into the Agile development cycle
  • What are the challenges of working in Agile within a global company – and what methods can be used to solve these challenges
  • About the lessons we learned as you we implemented Agile

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General sessions

You're NOT doing usability testing? Are you… nuts?

Steve Krug

Usability testing is the best way—by far—to ensure that what you’re putting out there (whether it's a Help system, a web site, a mobile app, a shopping cart, or anything else) is as good as it needs to be. But too many people still think that usability testing is complicated, costly, and time consuming.

These are all true if you have to hire someone to do it for you. But Steve Krug will show you that you can—and should—be doing it yourself, and that DIY testing is simple, inexpensive, fast, and most of all, effective.

Steve's keynote presentation will include a live usability test of some real-life software user assistance!

Delegates learned:

  • How to save time and money by doing usability testing yourself
  • How many people to include in your test
  • How to conduct a usability test
  • How to analyse your test observations and data, and take appropriate actions as a result

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The DITA Seven-Year Itch

Michael Zwecker and Daniel Szűcs (LogMeIn)

In this case study, we look at LogMeIn's seven-year relationship with DITA and discuss the tools we have developed to elegantly leverage DITA's potential.

LogMeIn has been a DITA shop since 2008 — see the online BoldChat User Guide for an example of our DITA-generated content. We enjoyed a lovely honeymoon, but over time the relationship soured as DITA proved a high-maintenance partner. We considered parting ways, but recently a toolmaster arrived to provide counselling, and our second honeymoon is well under way.

Delegates learned:

  • How to recognize when the solution has become the problem
  • About challenges faced during DITA implementation
  • How LogMeIn went from being a DITA sweatshop to a lean shop by building its own DITA automation tool
  • About the importance of a toolmaster

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Easing the translation and localisation process

Thomas Bro-Rasmussen (GN Otometrics)

The ever increasing demand of localizing your content, has put a major burden on your daily work and most likely on your company’s finances. With EU laws it is required to distribute your work in a local language. Actually there is no way you can avoid this. In order to cope with the vast amount of material, and to control all the different steps in a translation and localization process, it is important to streamline your workflow. You have to clearly define what each step encompasses. Terms, common strings, single sourced content, writing in simplified English (if English is your source language), managing all the exceptions that each language requires, choice of a proper software for your source document and so much more. In this presentation, all the essential steps to get a quality translation are discussed.

Delegates learned:

  • How single sourcing techniques can save time and cost
  • How important it is to plan ahead
  • Where to set in – in order to save the most and get the best quality
  • Why integration of common terms, software strings and content in the actual manuals are of essence

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Taking Collaboration to a Whole New Level

Priscilla Buckley (SAP)

Great collaboration with subject matter experts (SMEs) is the key to creating great user assistance, but finding a way to do it in increasingly shorter cycles and across distributed teams isn’t always obvious.

SAP’s first step toward resolving this issue was the implementation of a server to which all active content in our CMS is exported each day. There, technical communicators and SMEs can review the latest version of their products' user assistance, as our customers see it, and add comments as needed. Recently, however, we've taken collaboration to a whole new level by adding a lightweight, Web-based DITA editor which hides the complexities of DITA XML. SME contributions are stored directly in the CMS, where technical communicators can edit and integrate them into user assistance deliverables. A pilot program reported time savings of up to 50% for updating existing topics, and significantly shorter project completion cycles. Eventually, we plan to consolidate this collaboration environment and open it up to customers for co-creation and review of SAP UA.

Delegates learned:

  • How SAP progressively developed its collaboration offering
  • What benefits pilot teams reaped from "supported collaboration"
  • What collaboration features seem to be important in specific circumstances
  • Why groups beyond User Assistance are asking to use the system

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Improving the findability of your user assistance

Matthew Ellison (UA Europe)

How do software users look for the user assistance that they need? Do they browse the table of contents that we provide or use the index that we have worked hard to compile? No: nine times out of ten they choose to search—perhaps within the dedicated Help system that we provide, but often on the World Wide Web using a standard search engine such as Google. If we want the user assistance topics we write to be amongst the highest ranking search results, then there is a range of important techniques that we should use—and the collective term used for these techniques is Search Engine Optimization, or SEO.

In this session, Matthew will provide an introduction to SEO and will explain how various metadata such as keywords, short descriptions, and synonyms can have an impact on search ranking. He'll explain how to make your content easier to find within a dedicated Help system, and will demonstrate techniques that can be used in most popular Help Authoring Tools such as Adobe RoboHelp and MadCap Flare. Matthew will also discuss the additional considerations you need to make when publishing your user assistance to the World Wide Web.

Delegates learned:

  • The key principles of Search Engine Optimization
  • How and when to use synonyms
  • Why adding index keywords can be worthwhile even if users choose not to use the index
  • How to optimize the search experience using a Help Authoring Tool such as RoboHelp or Flare
  • How to raise your content's ranking in Web search engines such as Google or Bing

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Help: Making it look simple

Juliette Fleming (Oracle)

The mantra for Oracle Applications Cloud is 'simplicity, mobility, and extensibility'. In 2014, we took up this challenge in Information Development to simplify the help user interface, simplify the help text, and make it easier to customize. The result? More help is embedded in contextual help windows. Customers have complete control over what shows in these help windows -- they can add, hide, or edit the help very easily, without any technical skills. Help text is easier to scan and understand. More content is delivered as videos, especially for getting started. And for users who need more help, the focus is on search-then-filter, rather than help navigation.

Delegates learned:

  • Why perceived simplicity is important for help solutions
  • How to make your help text easier to scan and read
  • Some design tips to reduce the visual clutter associated with embedded help
  • Key considerations for designing a customisable help solution

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Global Audit: making your content ready for the world

Leah Guren (Cow TC)

You may create great online Help and terrific user assistance in English. But how ready is it for release to the world? How expensive, lengthy, and complicated might your localization (translation) process be if you haven’t properly prepared your content? In this session, learn how to conduct a global audit of your user assistance content and identify potential problems for world-release as well as potential problems for localization.

Delegates learned:

  • How to become the hero in your organisation
  • How to build internal procedures that will increase compliance and teamwork
  • How to reduce the time and expense of localization
  • How to improve the overall usability of your content

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Building a Brilliant Business Case for Content

Rachel Johnston (Mekon)

If you have an idea to change the way that content is written, stored, managed or published, how do you get support you need to make it happen? In a big company, change can feel like turning an oil tanker around. In a small or medium-sized company, budget and human resources are scarce and fiercely protected. And yet it’s well known that any content project needs buy in from the whole organisation—especially at the top.

If you feel that you’re shouting into the wind about the problems your team face, this presentation may help you. The key is to communicate with the right people, at the right time, in the right way. Using Mekon’s experience from dozens of projects, the presentation gives you the basic building blocks that you need to make a compelling business case.

Delegates learned:

  • How to line up your team’s needs with wider company goals
  • How to make strategic alliances
  • How to gather metrics for Return On Investment (ROI)
  • How to get the timing right

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Build vs. Buy: selecting a new CCMS

Pawel Kowaluk (Motorola Solutions)

This case study presents the process of selecting a new CCMS for DITA and non-DITA content. It does not name any names, but it does show the journey from the idea to the implementation, all set in a corporate landscape. It shows the challenges of setting the right requirements, evaluating the systems, and presenting recommendations to upper management. It also includes a bonus: evaluating the feasibility of building a CCMS in-house.

Delegates learned:

  • How to set the selection criteria
  • How to build a shortlist of vendors
  • How to approach presentations and testing
  • How to evaluate criteria, compare them between vendors, translate them into dollar values
  • How to decide if you should build or buy
  • How to estimate project costs for an in-house CCMS
  • How to run a pilot of an in-house CCMS
  • How to present your recommendations to upper management

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User assistance case study for a cloud-based application

Steve Krug (Advanced Common Sense) and Matthew Ellison (UA Europe)

Steve and Matthew discuss their experiences of designing and creating responsive user assistance for a powerful and innovative new cloud-based application. Usability expert (Steve) who started as a tech writer but hasn’t touched a Help authoring tool in 25 years awakens Rip Van Winkle-style to find UA in many ways unchanged; seeks out UA expert (Matthew) to navigate the waters and works together attempting to come up with truly usable Help. Here are all the trade-offs they encountered, and what they learned.

Delegates learned:

  • About Steve's and Matthew's thoughts on what makes user assistance both usable and useful to users of a complex cloud-based application
  • How they evolved a design and structure for the user assistance, with the aim of quickly answering the real questions of users
  • About the challenges of creating responsive user assistance for a wide range of screen sizes
  • How some of the limitations and constraints of their chosen authoring tool were overcome or worked around

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Tools and techniques for creating responsive web content

Matthew Ellison (UA Europe)

Surveys show that end-users are increasingly using mobile devices such as phones and tablets to consume the user assistance and technical documentation that we produce. This means that we have to adapt radically the format, design and overall approach of our web-based content – the tri-pane-based model that has served us well for the past 18 years is no longer appropriate for these smaller screens. This presentation shows how you can use some simple techniques to make your content “responsive” so that it works effectively on a range of screen sizes and device types. Matthew will describe how these techniques were used to transform the UA Europe website, and will also describe how many of the latest-generation of Help Authoring Tools are now supporting responsive HTML5 output.

Delegates learned:

  • Tips for laying out content on a small screen
  • A brief introduction to responsive design
  • Key features of HTML5 and CSS3 that you need to know about
  • Simple techniques for making your content responsive
  • How RoboHelp, Flare, and other tools support responsive HTML5 output

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Keep It Lean: manage projects using Kanban TOCs

Mattias Sander (SimCorp)

Much of your valuable time is spent keeping track of topics and people – not leaving room for value-adding activities like content development. In this session you will learn how the Kanban TOC method can help you mitigate risk, enable growth, and reduce cost.

It can be hard to spot process problems in knowledge work, and the aim of the Kanban TOC method is to make your work-in-progress visible, to make it easier to spot problems and to improve team communication and collaboration.

In the short term, the Kanban TOC method reduces your administration effort and can turn you into a lean, value-maximizing, topic-creating machine. In the long term, the Kanban TOC method helps you make processes more transparent, and makes it easy to spot problems and bottlenecks, which, in turn, helps you identify process improvements, maximizing value for both your organization and your customers.

Delegates learned:

  • How to use the Kanban TOC method
  • How to set up and use a Kanban TOC in MadCap Flare
  • How to use the method to improve team collaboration
  • How to use the method to gather data about, for example, lead times

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How to become a successful knowledge manager

Ulrike Parson (parson AG)

The way companies manage their knowledge has become one of the decisive success factors. Companies need to take care of their intellectual capital, just like they do of their financial capital. But what does it mean to “manage” knowledge? Do we need to write everything down, document processes, tools, and tasks? Do we need to get endless training? No, knowledge management means to consciously select and use methods that fit your company, your situation, and your needs. These methods need to make sure that knowledge is made explicit and available to all employees, and that this knowledge is actually used in the end—in the daily tasks and procedures. Because knowledge is only generated by applying it, because knowledge is the only resource that increases with use.

Delegates learned:

  • Why knowledge management is important
  • Which types of knowledge there are
  • How to introduce knowledge management at a company in a structured way and how to find your own mix of knowledge management methods
  • Why technical authors make good knowledge managers

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Introduction to Information Architecture

Dr Tony Self (HyperWrite)

The term "information architecture" has many definitions, but the organisation and labelling of Web content to help users find information and to help content developers maintain the information is as good as any. In this session, we will review the principles of information architecture, with a focus on the synthesis of disciplines that it embraces. The difference between Information Architecture and Information Design will be explored. The information-seeking behaviour of readers has a strong influence on information architecture, and "users", along with "content" and "context", constitute the Three Circles of IA. The principles of design patterns, labelling systems, and performance will also be discussed in the context of information structures. Some techniques for modelling information architectures will also be introduced.

Delegates learned:

  • How Information Architecture (IA) is defined and described
  • The four pillars of IA: Metadata, Navigation, Search and Layout
  • How different disciplines are drawn upon in IA
  • How information-seeking behaviour influences IA
  • Techniques for modelling IA, including organisation structures and structural themes

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Choosing the right path through the future of user assistance

Dr Tony Self (HyperWrite)

Something quite transformative is happening under our noses. The things that people choose to read information from are developing at an astonishing speed. Science fiction from ten years ago seems to be going into production now. These changing reading preferences are going to have a huge impact on technical communication in general, and user assistance in particular.

Technical communicators shouldn't be attempting to offer fully-featured, layed out, traditional, paged manuals with complex formatting on a mobile form factor. We should be innovating, and finding better ways of communicating technical information through the mobile platform, through EPUB, through augmented reality, through HUD. And we should be using semantic authoring, metadata, facets, responsive Web design, mobile first and standards as tools.

The key may well be to abandon our preconceptions, completely revise our approaches, and actively innovate. This is as exciting as it is confronting. As Albert Einstein said, "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them."

Delegates learned:

  • How does the rise of mobile computers affect me?
  • How can content be produced for new platforms such as ePUB and Google Glass
  • How does Responsive Web Design affect me?
  • What other new technologies are on the horizon, if not here already?
  • How can I practically create content that is "future proof" so that I don't have to rework it every time a new technology arrives?

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The Travel Ninja: applying ultra-light travel concepts to content

Leah Guren (Cow TC)

Learn the secrets of a travel-savvy road warrior. Discover how packing less can revolutionize your travel experience and allow you to actually do more. Learn how these techniques can be applied to your UA content.

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Exhibition and Vendor Presentations at
UA Europe 2015

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Exhibiting companies

Click a logo to view that company's web site.

3di logo ADAPT Localization logo Fluid Topics logo
Cherryleaf logo ISTC logo ITR logo
Mekon logo MadCap Software logo

 

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Presentations by sponsors and exhibitors

The first day of main conference concluded with a series of presentations by sponsors and exhibitors.

The presentations were as follows:

The future of Embedded UA?
(Rik Page, Mekon)

Help systems embedded into your software may not be that unusual these days.

But what does the future hold? and what can be achieved with the right content delivery platform to enhance the user experience. Rik Page will show you the eUA in latest release of PDToolKit a CAD application for a specialist market and then whet your appetite with what else can be achieved through the adoption of DITA coupled with the DITAweb Dynamic Delivery Platform.

The revolution of Dynamic Publishing
(Bruno Fraissinede, Antidot)

Fast and easy access to the right information at the right time can make or break the reputation of your brand, the effectiveness of your employees and the loyalty of your customers. But this information is complex, diverse and spread everywhere in your organization: technical documentation, wikis, knowledge bases, videos, catalogs, etc.

Discover how Fluid Topics breaks the bounds of static content and empower users. It combines and transforms data into readily available information. It reinvents the user experience and expands the possibilities of unlimited information access for everyone. It gives users them the freedom to tailor their documentation and engage with your content.

Discover limitless technical content delivery. Discover Fluid Topics.

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Delivering Information Anytime, Anywhere
Multi-Channel Publishing Using MadCap Flare
(Jose Sermeno, MadCap Software)

Cross-platform, multi-device, multi-channel publishing is a necessity for today’s content developers – and simplicity dictates that content creation from a single source is prudent and preferred. In this presentation, MadCap Software Product Evangelist Jose Sermeno will be reviewing concepts used when Single Sourcing content for use in both high quality print formats as well as dynamic HTML5/mobile Web content using Flare’s advanced Top Nav design. The presentation will include a live demonstration of the ability to create and distribute content designed for different environments. This is including cross-browser, cross-platform online Help, Responsive content optimized for mobile devices, CMYK high end print publishing, and more.

 

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Museum of User Assistance

Photo of Paul Allen and Bill Gates at the Museum of the Living Computer, Seattle

To celebrate 10 years of UA Europe, we presented a special museum of user assistance that included computer technology with its associated Help systems from the early 1990s to the present day.

The museum showcased a range of bygone products such as ForeHelp, HDK, TrueHelp, and featured workbooks, CD-ROMs and publicity materials from early WinWriters and European Online Help Conferences. There were also many fun items including vendor T-shirts and promotional merchandise through the ages.

Photo of Help for Windows 3.1

The museum was not just about nostalgia — looking back at the evolution of User Assistance over the past 20 years, there are many lessons that we can learn from products that showed great innovation, and brilliant user assistance designs. It's also useful and salutary to note the trends that proved ultimately short-lived and unsuccessful.

By clearly showing how we got to where we are now, the museum pointed a direction for the next 10 years of user assistance development.

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