The changing nature of technical content (tekom tcworld 2013 conference)

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There have been many developments in creating documentation systems, with the assumption that the nature of the content - the tone of voice, the writing style - should remain essentially the same. We investigate whether the tried-and-tested technical communication writing styles from past decades still make sense today. We look at the reasons why some organisations, such as Facebook, Google & Mozilla, might be "breaking the rules" in the User Assistance they provide. We also look at how structured, adaptable, intelligent content becomes important for organisations that do decide to change.

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The changing nature of technical content (tekom tcworld 2013 conference)

  1. 1. The changing nature of content tekom tcworld 2013 Ellis Pratt Cherryleaf Saturday, 9 November 2013
  2. 2. Overview 1. A story 2. What do we mean by the traditional approach to User Assistance? 3. Why change? The weakness with the current approach 4. Towards a new model 5. What are the benefits for doing this? Saturday, 9 November 2013
  3. 3. 1. A story.... Saturday, 9 November 2013
  4. 4. We heard a prospect say Saturday, 9 November 2013
  5. 5. We heard a prospect say “We’d like our technical user documentation to be like our marketing documents... Saturday, 9 November 2013
  6. 6. We heard a prospect say “We’d like our technical user documentation to be like our marketing documents... friendly... Saturday, 9 November 2013
  7. 7. We heard a prospect say “We’d like our technical user documentation to be like our marketing documents... friendly... conversational... Saturday, 9 November 2013
  8. 8. We heard a prospect say “We’d like our technical user documentation to be like our marketing documents... friendly... conversational... good.” Saturday, 9 November 2013
  9. 9. We started to see this elsewhere Saturday, 9 November 2013
  10. 10. To get fancy with this, you can do use this in conjunction with the link tool when you’re creating your promotion. Just click the link tool above the module, and in the place where it says “Link name”, you could write: Join my mailing list. Then, where it says, “http://” and wants you to add you link, just insert [[subscribe]] and you’ll be golden. Saturday, 9 November 2013
  11. 11. Saturday, 9 November 2013
  12. 12. Setting your home page in Firefox is easy. Can't decide on just one page? No problem. Firefox lets you set a group of websites as your home page. This article will give you some examples and step-by-step instructions for customizing your home page settings to best fit how you work. Saturday, 9 November 2013
  13. 13. 13% increase Saturday, 9 November 2013
  14. 14. Was a new model emerging? New ! Saturday, 9 November 2013
  15. 15. 2. What do we mean by the traditional approach to User Assistance? Saturday, 9 November 2013
  16. 16. The traditional model Help image: HyperWrite Saturday, 9 November 2013
  17. 17. The traditional approaches Information Mapping Minimalism Quick Reader Comprehension STOP Sequential Thematic Organization of Publications From the 1950s-80s Image: Wikipedia Saturday, 9 November 2013
  18. 18. The traditional model Succinct Clear and unambiguous Numbered lists Topic-based writing Unemotional Active voice Saturday, 9 November 2013
  19. 19. Strengths Easy to understand Easy to find Translatable Accurate Re-usable Saturday, 9 November 2013
  20. 20. The traditional model is good for Safety Risk A hierarchical, command and control, culture Anxiety Image: Haynes Saturday, 9 November 2013
  21. 21. 3. Why change? Saturday, 9 November 2013
  22. 22. Who has been told this? “No-one reads the manual” Saturday, 9 November 2013
  23. 23. Why change? Uncertainty over its value Image: Kathy Sierra Saturday, 9 November 2013
  24. 24. Technology is changing We feel we are in more control Saturday, 9 November 2013
  25. 25. Technology is changing 1993 2013 It’s more ubiquitous Saturday, 9 November 2013 Image: Jim CarreyFar
  26. 26. Users are becoming more competent They want to do more than just function They want to master a task Saturday, 9 November 2013
  27. 27. What motivates people Autonomy - being in control of their lives Mastery - being good at something Purpose - something having meaning Saturday, 9 November 2013
  28. 28. How we purchase technology is changing Image: Google Saturday, 9 November 2013
  29. 29. Saturday, 9 November 2013
  30. 30. How we purchase technology is changing Know Like Trust Try Buy Saturday, 9 November 2013
  31. 31. How technology is sold is changing Try before you buy Software as a Service App abandonment Saturday, 9 November 2013
  32. 32. How we purchase technology is changing Know Technical content User Assistance Like Trust Try Buy Saturday, 9 November 2013
  33. 33. How technology is sold is changing This may not work any more Saturday, 9 November 2013
  34. 34. 4. Towards a new model Saturday, 9 November 2013
  35. 35. Let’s look at some examples Saturday, 9 November 2013
  36. 36. More submissive Saturday, 9 November 2013
  37. 37. More submissive Saturday, 9 November 2013
  38. 38. More conversational Saturday, 9 November 2013
  39. 39. More conversational Saturday, 9 November 2013
  40. 40. It’s happened before Saturday, 9 November 2013
  41. 41. But L18N needs took over Generated by CamScanner from intsig.com Saturday, 9 November 2013 2008
  42. 42. But L18N needs took over 2013 Saturday, 9 November 2013
  43. 43. Progress or regression? Saturday, 9 November 2013
  44. 44. The importance of psychology Image: University of Roehampton Saturday, 9 November 2013
  45. 45. The importance of context Image: Wikipedia Saturday, 9 November 2013
  46. 46. The importance of context Traditional, dominant approach Saturday, 9 November 2013
  47. 47. Developing a voice and tone MailChimp style guide VoiceandTone.com Saturday, 9 November 2013
  48. 48. Developing a voice and tone Saturday, 9 November 2013
  49. 49. Developing a voice and tone Saturday, 9 November 2013
  50. 50. Developing an integrated model for learning, User Assistance and mastery Saturday, 9 November 2013
  51. 51. The competence of users Unconscious competence Mastery I know how to do it well I know I’m incompetent Conscious incompetence I don’t know I’m incompetent Saturday, 9 November 2013 Conscious competence Unconscious incompetence
  52. 52. Traditional UA model Forums Screencasts Users’ questions & strategies Body of knowledge Making people aware of their “incompetence” Saturday, 9 November 2013 Help Training
  53. 53. A new design for User Assistance Users’ questions & strategies Community, user generated content Feed some of this back into What is a good choice? Body of knowledge Curiosity Making people aware of their “incompetence” Saturday, 9 November 2013
  54. 54. A unified system Users’ questions & strategies Community, user generated content Body of knowledge Making people aware of their “incompetence” Saturday, 9 November 2013
  55. 55. 5. What are the benefits for doing this? Saturday, 9 November 2013
  56. 56. What is our desired action? What do we measure? What is our definition of success? Saturday, 9 November 2013
  57. 57. What do we measure? Correlate with Support calls Ratings of usefulness Comments Usability testing Task completion Prospects become customers Saturday, 9 November 2013
  58. 58. A/B Split testing 13% reduction in Support calls Saturday, 9 November 2013
  59. 59. 6. What are the take-aways? Saturday, 9 November 2013
  60. 60. Summary Technology and users’ skill are changing The techniques from 30 years ago may no longer appropriate New writing styles are emerging Saturday, 9 November 2013
  61. 61. Summary No one right answer, you will need to experiment Saturday, 9 November 2013
  62. 62. More information Saturday, 9 November 2013
  63. 63. For more information (including details on our training course) ellis@cherryleaf.com @ellispratt Saturday, 9 November 2013
  64. 64. Questions? (I have Jammie Dodgers) Saturday, 9 November 2013
  65. 65. End © Cherryleaf 2013 Images and screenshots © their respective owners Saturday, 9 November 2013

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