“Bad information is Marketing’s fault problem. Good information is Tech Comms’ specialty. Let’s do the maths.”

inbound marketing and technical communicationsThe quotation in the title is from Roger Hart’s presentation at last week’s TCUK14 conference. Roger is a product marketing manager who spent a few years as a Technical Author. In his presentation, Collateral damage: do marketing and tech comms have to fight when users get informed?, he explained some of the most powerful marketing content today is high quality user information – especially the content that Technical Authors produce.

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Our process for creating elearning videos

I will be talking at the Technical Communications UK 2014 conference (TCUK14) next month about creating videos for technical communication and elearning videos.

elearning video screen captureIt covers how to embed video in a course. The delegates see, in each recorded module, a video of the trainer on the right of the screen, with the slides, application walkthroughs or images on the left of the screen.

This format is more engaging for delegates than a disembodied voice talking over a slide or image.

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MadWorld 14 – See you in San Diego

presenter_banner_150x150We’re very pleased to say Cherryleaf’s Ellis Pratt has been asked to speak at the MadWorld 2014 conference. Presenting at MadWorld 2013 was great fun, and it looks like MadCap Software is putting together another great event.

Ellis will be doing three presentations:

DITA for Dummies

Do presentations on DITA send you to sleep? Do you keep putting off learning about DITA, and wonder whether you need to worry about it at all? In this presentation, we’ll look at DITA using simple terms, “warts and all”, in a way that won’t be boring and won’t send you to sleep.

Madworld registration desk

Bust a Move: From Technical Communication to Content Strategy (MadWorld presentation)

We’ll look at how technical communicators can get more involved in corporate content strategy. We’ll look at why they might want to do that, the differences between technical communication and content strategy, as well as looking at how they might re-position themselves. We’ll also look at what tools and skills technical communicators can bring across from the technical communications field.

MadWorld

What Do You Measure? Metrics for Technical Communicators (MadWorld conference)

Often, technical communicators focus on the estimating, reporting and costing of documentation projects. How can they accurately measure these, and what should they actually be measuring? We’ll look at how we can measure the value of technical communication as well as the efficiency of the process. We’ll also look at what we can do using MadCap Flare to measure our work.

The conference is being held on the 14th and 15th April, in San Diego.

MadWorld

For details on other upcoming presentations and events, see the Events page on the Cherryleaf website.

Fancy attending the STC Summit 2013 for free?

We have a ticket to the STC Summit 2013 that needs to go to a good home.

The STC Summit conference has over 80 education sessions on technical communication, organised in seven tracks. It will be held between the 6th-8th May. There is also an exposition, with more than 50 companies represented. Ticket prices normally cost between $900-$1,400, depending on when you book (although students willing to help out can get in for a couple of hundred dollars).

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See you at Technical Communications UK Conference 2-4 October

We’ll be at Technical Communications UK conference next week. Ellis will be speaking on the 4th October (at 11.00) on “What does the iPad 3 mean for Technical Authors?”. The Technical Communications UK conference includes speakers from outside the technical communication profession, with the aim of bringing a new perspective on communicating information.

A successful conference is as much about the people you meet as the presentations, so it will be fun mixing with all the other delegates.

How to build a multi-million dollar business by putting manuals on the Web

One of the issues we’ve been promoting for many years is the importance for Technical Authors to publish their user guides and online Help on the Web. A surprisingly large amount of companies still don’t offer Web versions, for reasons that include:

  • It’s too difficult
  • Our competitors might read it and reverse-engineer our product
  • Support/Training/Marketing will object

The problem with this approach is that others are likely step in and fulfil this need. One such person is Kyle Wiens, CEO of ifixit.com, who I saw present at the STC Summit 2012 conference last week.

Kyle has built a multi-million dollar business on the back of offering repair manuals that manufacturers choose not to put on the Web. The manuals are available free-of-charge, with ifixit.com making money from selling spare parts.

self-repair manfiesto

Wiens said that if machines in other industries — for example, tractors used by farmers — were to break down over a handful of years and couldn’t be easily repaired, consumers would openly revolt. “In industries where consumers really care about a quality, long-lasting product, there’s no way companies can get away with it,” he said. more

We’ve suggested in the past that organisations publish Help for their competitors’ products, so they can engage with their future customers.

Publishing to the Web provides a path to publishing to mobile devices and tablets. It also means, finally, Technical Author can measure the value of what they produce – how many people want to read it and what they think of it.

Regardless of the objections from other departments, this is probably the single most important thing a Technical Author can do.

Do you agree?