Canceled – UI/UX Workshop – TC Summer Camp 2017

This workshop is cancelled.

User Experience from Insights to Action

In this interactive workshop, you will learn the “Why” of UX (user experience): Why placing emphasis on the users is fundamental. You will understand users and types of user research. We’ll examine the UX lifecycle from insights to an actionable prototype and to a very useable product or experience. We’ll survey a variety of key UX artifacts such as personas, empathy maps, customer experience maps, journey maps and more.

Workshop leader: Vera Rhoads, Senior Managing Consultant UX at IBM, Adjunct Lecturer at University of Maryland iSchool

Vera Rhoads has been teaching at the University of Maryland iSchool in the MIM program since 2004. Her focus has primarily been usability and user experience. She has been working on optimizing web solutions for large-scale Fortune 500 companies and non-profits (Fannie Mae, AARP, IMF) for 19 years. Vera’s specialties include web strategy and operations, next-generation website evolution, usability, branding, multi-lingual globalization, web content management and search implementations. She is PMP, ITIL and SCRUM master certified and works on enhancing process methodologies into the web development lifecycle.

When: Saturday 9 September 2017, 8:30-10:30 AM


Lessons in saving lives

An interview with Vera Rhoads, IBM UX professional and lecturer at University of Maryland College iSchool by the TC Camp roving reporter, Li-At Rathbun.

Vera Rhoads was in the closing panel at STC Summit in May. She’s a working professional and instructor for UX. She will be leading the UX workshop at TC Camp. Our intrepid Camp reporter, Li-At Rathbun, sat down with Vera to get her perspective on what technical communicators need to know about UX to advance their careers and capabilities.

“UX Saves Lives” -Vera Rhoads

When you hear Vera Rhoads talk about UI/UX, you become an instant believer. As technical communicators, we have the power to save lives and change the world. Vera teaches us how.

Li-At: Why is UI/UX interesting to you?

Because it has the power to change the world.

I’m being quite serious. By focusing on changing the user experience, we’re changing how people interact fundamentally with each other. It’s not so much about the interaction between humans and machines. At the end of the day, it’s how people experience the world and interact with each other.

Even if you think of a shopping experience—of how people interact with and the like, it’s about the connection between people. That’s why user experience and the power of user experience is so interesting to me.

Li-At: What attracted you to UI/UX?

In the early 90’s, I was working in a book publishing agency and then for a literary agency. At about the same time, I was going to graduate school. Hypertext—the Internet—was gaining momentum and I got very interested in the UX mostly from the publishing perspective, from the writer/editor/publisher perspective. I then got so involved in the technology that I got much more technical because I wanted to understand how this communication can be empowered.

This is before the term UX was even used. I was doing a lot of information architecture (IA) , navigation systems, and search systems. I’ve always been interested in the human factor of communication.

Li-At: Who should attend this September 9 workshop?

This workshop is for people who want to learn more about user experience and UX research methods. It starts with placing focus on the users: how to find out more about the users and how to create empathy with the users. How to find out what the users think, feel, say, and do.

The workshop is geared towards people who are starting in the field, but also towards people who’ve been in the field for a while and want to share their experiences.

Li-At: What’s the one thing that all technical communicators should understand about UX?

As technical communicators, we already understand about purpose and audience. We already have a lot of skills and knowledge. So what we need to know about UX is that we are not the users—and it’s all about the users.

We must study and understand the intended users and gain insight into who they are.

Don’t assume you know everything about the users. And don’t try to substitute your own experiences for their experiences. You are not your users.

Li-At: Okay, this is TC Camp. So my next question is, what’s your favorite camping spot?

Definitely Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia.

My husband grew up touring America in a VW Van, the kind that you can sleep on top of. I’ve promised him we’ll tour the U.S. in one of these some day.

Li-At: If you could take one person camping with you, who would that be and why?

Elon Musk or someone smart like that might be interesting. But I’ll stick with my own husband.

Unconference – TC Summer Camp 2017

Post Camp Message

Thanks for coming to TC Summer Camp 2017! You never know what you’re going to learn or where the discussions lead. Discussions change as the participants change. Different people with different backgrounds and different experiences provide insight into what we do and how we do it.

TC Camp wouldn’t be anything without you! We’re glad you came and hope you come back next year!

What’s different about TC Summer Camp?

Join our unconference and use the day to talk about everything techcomm!

This year we’re hosting smaller group sessions, to encourage deeper connections with the issues you care about. If you’re serious about improving your career and your professional standing, you won’t want to miss TC Summer Camp, it’s something of a Master Camp.

Build deeper connections with small groups at TC Summer Camp in DC this year.  Share advice, get feedback, and ask burning questions about technical communications. TC Summer Camp means smaller groups so everyone has an opportunity to speak and be heard.

Attendees can attend all three workshops…or choose to stay in one the entire time to get a deeper connection to the instructor and the content. In this more intimate, focused event you can really connect with the other leaders in your profession and with the issues that concern you the most!

TC Summer Camp from the team that brought you the wildly successful TC Camp Unconference in Silicon Valley.


  • Date: Saturday, 9 September 2017
  • Time: 8:30 am to 6:00 pm
  • VenueDistrict Architecture Center (DAC)
  • WiFi will be available, so you can Tweet and blog!
  • Bring: Curiosity, business cards, portable device (for notes, blogging, etc)
  • Questions, feedback, coordination? Email your camp counselors

Event Schedule

This is an approximate schedule of the day’s events:

  • 8:30 AM – Registration opens – Continental breakfast, networking, and registration!
  • 9:00 AM – Hands-on Workshops – Workshops run from 9:00-12:00
    at TC Summer Camp can choose one or attend all three!

  • 12:00 AM – Workshops end – Break, refreshments, and more networking!
  • 12:15 AM – Unconference Begins. The first general session includes:
    • Overview
    • Keynote
    • Session Proposals
    • Topic Voting
    • Lunch (provided)
    • Keynotes
    • Sponsor Presentations
  • 1:30 PM – Session Matrix Posted (3 time slots 6 tables, with title, leader and scribe per session)
    • Session 1
    • Session 2
    • Break – snacks & networking
    • Session 3
  • 4:30 PM – Camp Minimalist (session summaries)
  • 5:30 PM – Raffle and Wrap-up

Thank you in advance for your notes and summary to everyone who volunteers as note-takers and session leaders!


Folks from the TC Summer Camp community have posted pictures of the event. If you took pictures and want us to include you, please let us know what to post!

TC Summer Camp 2017 Flickr Gallery

Flickr Album Gallery Powered By: WP Frank

Thanks to all the sponsors:
TC Summer Camp 2017!

TC Camp would not be possible without the generous support of our sponsors. When we reached out for companies to support this unconference, these pioneering spirited companies said YES without hesitation!

Special thanks to our Ambassador, our Scout Leaders, our Rangers, our Conservationists and our Stewards!

If you see a sponsor in the wild, be sure to thank them for being a TC Camp Sponsor!

Camp Ambassador (Platinum Sponsor)


Adobe’s Technical Communication group delivers best-in-class tools, systems and services aimed at facilitating the end-to-end process of creating ground-breaking content, managing content effectively and efficiently using cutting edge systems, publishing content seamlessly across media and devices, and achieving greater business success. Adobe’s tools and solutions help deliver contextual, consumable and actionable content while offering highest return on investment. With the convergence of marketing and technical content across enterprises – Adobe’s new-age solutions will empower your organization to create valuable experiences that build your brands, drive demand, and extend the reach and ROI of customer-facing content, pre-sale AND post-sale.

Camp Scout Leaders (Gold Sponsors)


easyDITA accelerates creating and delivering content. It is a complete DITA authoring, publishing, and component content management system (CCMS). easyDITA’s users can create, share, reuse, localize, and deliver information faster and easier than ever before. We pride ourselves on delivering a complete approach to content development. From authoring to publishing, we’re there every step of the way. Visit us at

Camp Rangers (Silver Sponsors)


Camp Conservationists (Bronze Sponsors)


Camp Stewards (Green Sponsors)

STC Philadelphia Metro Chapter STC Rochester Chapter STC Washington DC Chapter

Camp Counselors (Assistant Camp Organizers)

TC Camp Inc is a 501(c)(3).  All donations are tax deductible.These companies sponsor members to the TC Camp Board and help make TC Camp happen:

Single-Sourcing Solutions Single-Sourcing Solutions specializes in everything related to dynamic product information creation, publication, and delivery.
leximation-300x88 Increase your efficiency with our tools and solutions. Leximation creates targeted solutions that specifically fit your needs.
Group Wellesley provides writing, publishing, and information management solutions.
CoolText Senior-level Tech Comms expert, who loves learning new technologies and keeping up with current tools and trends.

Unconference Session #4 Notes – TC Camp 2017

Documentation for The Internet of Things

Top takeaways:

  • We still don’t know exactly how the IOT works or will work.
  • Our end user for some information now includes the machine itself, not a human consumer.
  • We expect an increase in API docs.
  • End user docs may decrease for the human component. If there is user control, there must be user doc. May still be in different forms – i.e. virtual reality.
  • Standards are much more important, not just within your company, but across all devices you work with.


REST APIs must be involved, because it’s a dialog between technology. Processing huge amounts of data. Not sure where doc fits in – it’s machine controlled. Increases need for API doc but otherwise it’s just working. Not traditional doc but still something.

Consumer of our info is changing to the machine. We don’t know how it is going to work. Hairbrush that can analyze your hair. Scales that analyze your weight pattern. Doc for these things are for the app to get that data. Not always just the product app because it integrates with other products who should be doing that dependent doc.

Info req. Depends on device and purpose. If documenting a soil sensor may not need as much as a health care device. Dependent on a standard for all devices to talk to each other so doc needs to also evolve to conform to that standard even if all products aren’t created by you. Smart home devices have different platforms, APIs, etc. but eventually when homes talk to other homes – where’s the common ground. Does one end up winning?

If this then that – website with applets.

If you go to hardware store you don’t get a manual for nails. Similarly if you buy something that talks to something else you don’t need doc.

If there is a user control, it needs doc.

Documentation Automation

Top takeaways:

  • Macros good for automation
  • Standalone tools such as AutoHotKeys
  • Tools such as Ant, Make, Powershell, and run process on the docs.
  • Excel is useful as a step in running automated processes.
  • Flare command line can be used to automate builds of Flare projects.
  • Build tools such as Jenkins to create scripts and run on the docs.
  • DITA-OT QA plugin can be used to automate QA on the docs.


  • Problem generating form Scala code. Could do Javadoc.
  • Can use macros to automate.
  • There are macro applications that work [.. ??]
  • AutoHotKey – macro create, edit, execute
  • Powershell – Windows command line, can read XML and JSON, it turns it into objects and creates an object tree. Modify into MS Office products. Can use it to auto-create PPT. Part of OS in Windows 10.
  • Python has library[?] amd can make [ ??? ] Excel file
  • Regular expressions can use to automate tasks. Lots of tool editors support it and also programming languages.
  • Excel -> Notepad++ -> Regex -> Markdown
  • Excel spreadsheet -> SQL query for database
  • ATOM plugin  generates TOC for MD files, Markdown TOC
  • Make files – simple – can save and run commands. Auto-generation after Make
  • Excel can be used because it’s structured, eg. making files from XML, used Excel to set up commands to run on on XML file (XSLT script could also be used)
  • Flare’s CLI can build your Flare project and you can get it to do some automation.
  • Can use Jenkins automated build tool and create scripts to run on docs. Maybe add parameters for diff outputs (like ZIP).
  • Can write commit tool for Git that does a certain action on a commit.
  • AZARDI – EPUB reader for desktop.
  • DITA-Open Toolkit QA plugin can input terminology and markup condition. Eg. point to set of topics, it checks for conditions and generates a report.
  • Acrolinx – tool in cloud, configure to check docs and generate a report.
  • Hemmingway app – is good for editorial comments.

Effort Estimation

Top takeaways:

  • Scope time and effort, use existing metrics from previous projects, Joanne Hackos.
  • Add sufficient fudge factor (~10%) for surprises and unknowns.
  • Educate others in company about authoring/publishing process.


  • How much time does writer(s) have? What’s absolutely necessary?
  • Use existing metrics to estimate hours. (J. Hackos seminars) Quick time, quality, cost – one or more weeks to give.
  • Schedule back from deadline, 1-2 weeks fudge factor.
  • 40 hours to produce 1-2 hours of training material
  • Use metrics from previous projects.
  • User Assistance (Joe Welinske) – little content based on user testing.
  • Why make the estimate? To get paid fairly, realistic schedule, manage resources.
  • Educate others in company about authoring/publishing process.
  • Schedule impacted by dependencies on developers/other team members, product keeps changing.
  • Freeze dates (code, UI, features) – if not adhered to, impacts schedule.

How to get users’ feedback

Scribe: Julie McMullen

Top takeaways:

  • User feedback does not equal doc review
  • User feedback can be direct (you → them) or indirect (e.g., through Support)
  • Survey is good so you can control what/how is asked
  • Analytics provide feedback indirectly (page counts, search terms, etc.)
  • User forums provide feedback


  • Users = people who user the docs
  • Survey – to mailing list for outtages, etc. – had to get approval
  • Are you even allowed to talk to customers?
  • Figure out what you need to know before creating questions
  • Results are helpful, help identify trends
  • Difference between feedback & review comments
  • Survey could fix this
  • Is it the user’s job to give you feedback, though?
  • One way is “Give Feedback” button
  • Bottom line – get feedback whenever/however you can
  • Feedback – direct or indirect
  • Analytics can give feedback

Style Guides

Leader: Elaina Cherry

Scribe: Share Clare

Top takeaways:

  1. Style guides make authoring easier. You have authority to enforce consistent wording
  2. Look & Feel belongs in a style sheet, not a style guide
  3. Style guide must address higher-order issues, that enable non-writers to contribute content


More than just Look & Feel? Yes! Look & Feel is for the style sheet

These are just a few items to be included:

  • tone, voice, tense
  • capitalization (do headings use title or sentence capitalization)
  • spelling (acceptable variations from American standard spelling)
  • terminology – also what not to use
  • rules such as headings are never followed by headings
  • principles – such as breaking content into steps, using minimalist principles
  • use of abbreviations (e.g., i.e., etc.)

What is it for?

  • Training other writers
  • Settle disputes
  • Used during reviews

Is a style guide important?

  • This topic attracted fewer people than other topics

Who is the audience for the style guide?

  • Engineers (especially non-native English speakers)
  • UX designers
  • Marketing

Getting hiring managers’ attention

Scribe: Aleida Vandenbosch

Top takeaways:

  • Take the initiative to connect with recruiter
  • Research, Research!
  • Strategies:
    • LinkedIn: portfolio sample to LinkedIn
    • Resume: skills on tap
    • Phone: narrate your exp to their needs


  • Who just updates LinkedIn and expects some recruiter to contact them?
    • No one reads every word: Keyword search. – tailor to job you want
    • LinkedIn Profile is forward looking
  • Tailored cover letter with keywords for job description; every application needs tailored cover letter
  • If not getting activity, not qualified and/or change strategy (e.g., LINKSV = profile db companies; do research, direct in mail, get on their radar).
  • How to get on radar of hiring manager – rely on networking and interact with them.
    • Make sure you be gracious, helpful, appreciate initiative, give them an option to say No.
    • Or employee-referral bonus incentive – ok to network with them too.
  • Recruiters: too many out there and inexperienced. Saturated market; new reality-recruiter may not know or talk to hiring manager. Time to fill position taking longer to fill.
  • Portfolio
    • What writing sample is in demand.
    • Make sure portfolio writing sample is linked to LinkedIn, if you don’t have time to build own website.
    • Put something on LinkedIn first – gives hiring manager reason to take seriously.
  • All companys have own self interest
    • e.g. # of social media followers – collect connections; youtube video: video skills/knowledge
  • LinkedIn status updates go to all of your connections
    • Couple times a month and only if you have something to say.
    • Ppl will tune you out if too loud and too often.
    • Keywords will help you.
  • Portfolio Samples (max 4 pg from TOC – no need to be in order – Intro, sub topic, reference).
  • Resume: Skills at top (before work experience) and include categories to show you know how to org info.
  • Job Titles: Current title is just “Technical Writer” but I feel like a Sr. Can I add that level? Yes.

Phone Job Interview:

  • Find out about recruiter and hiring manager
  • They love taking about themselves.
  • What is your idea candidate and narrate to that.
  • Research, research, research.