UAEurope 2011 conference review

UAEurope 2011 was possibly the most enjoyable and interesting conference in its long history.

Sonia Fuga of Northgate explained how they are using DITA, WordPress and Web 2.0 features to streamline the documentation process, simplify the review process and deliver interactive context sensitive Help for one of their larger applications. Delegates were interested in how their new Help included Google-like search results (produced by referencing DITA elements within the topics) and the ability for users to provide feedback and obtain notifications of content updates via RSS feeds.

Leah Guren presented her research into to the cultural dimensions of software Help usage. Her insights into the use of (and opinions towards) Help by beginners and advanced users were fascinating and counter-intuitive.

My presentation on applying games techniques to User Assistance seemed to have been well received.

In a number of presentations, there was the recognition that many users now go to the search engines when they get stuck. For those that can publish their Help on the Web, this poses no great problem. However, for those who are unable to do this (for confidentiality, security, legal or other reasons), they face the challenge of how to guide users away from the search engines and towards their Help. There were a number of approaches presented, and I suspect this issue will be raised and discussed again at future conferences.

On the Cherryleaf stand, located in the exhibition area, we were giving away cherry Sencha leaf tea, leaflets and some stickers. The stickers proved far and away the most popular.

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