Sort it out! What Legos and Information Taxonomies Have in Common
Looking for a single piece of content on a web site is often compared to digging in a giant bucket of legos for a single unique piece – an often frustrating and futile endeavor.
If those legos are sorted by certain distinguishing attributes, such as color and size, the odds of finding a particular piece increase dramatically. As a result, companies often take a “lego-block” approach to their information taxonomies.
However, the sorting of lego blocks is child’s play, compared to the intricacies of sorting technical content – the distinctions are not always as visible as color or size and attributes that are that obvious may not be very useful in a search. Nevertheless, there are lessons we can learn from the “lego-block” approach.
In this workshop, Dawn Stevens draws parallels between sorting legos and sorting technical content and provides suggestions for going deeper when the Lego model falls short.
When: 27 April 2019, 8:30 am – 10:30 am
Workshop Leader: Dawn Stevens, Comtech Services
Dawn Stevens is the president of Comtech Services, specializing in information development, instructional design, and management consulting. With 28 years of experience, including 17 years at Comtech, Dawn has practical experience in virtually every role within a documentation and training department, including project management, instructional design, writing, editing, and multimedia programming. With both engineering and technical communication degrees, Dawn combines a solid technical foundation with strong writing and design skills to identify and remove the challenges her clients face in producing usable, technical information and training.
Static Site Generators: What, Why, and How
As many documentation teams move towards a docs-as-code workflow, most are turning to static site generators like Jekyll, Sphinx, Hugo, or Gatsby to turn that code into user-facing documentation websites. They’re also powerful tools for building all sorts of websites that are fast, secure, and easily scalable.
In this hands-on workshop, you’ll get an introduction to the static site generator landscape, and apply what you learn by building your own site in class. We’ll cover:
- How static site generators work.
- Comparison of popular generators, with guidelines for choosing one for your next project.
- Step-by-step creation and deployment of your own website.
- Brief overview of workflow and deployment options.
This workshop does not require any previous programming knowledge, though we will be using some code (like HTML and markdown) with plenty of guidance and support!
Please bring a laptop and charger so you can follow along with the exercises.
When: 27 April 2019, 8:30am-10:30am
Workshop Leader: Jessica Parsons, Netlify
Best Communication Practices with Subject Matter Experts (A Field Guide)
One of the challenges Technical Communicators face in the workplace is our reliance upon busy team members for the inputs, reviews, and expert sign-offs we need to keep producing. Best practices dictate that we are deeply involved in projects from planning stages onward, but in the real world, our access to projects and assets frequently fail to meet this idealized condition. Sometimes we have to get strategic.
This session highlights winning approaches for communicating with SMEs, engineers, designers, and the other people we need to do our jobs. We will cover interviewing techniques, question structure, communication strategies, and how to keep the input lines open once they’ve been established.
When: 27 April 2019, 8:30am – 10:30 am
Workshop leader: Dr. Mark Thompson, SJSU
In addition to directing the Professional and Technical Writing Program at San Jose State University, Dr. Mark Thompson has worked with engineers, project managers, designers, and vice presidents of marketing for nearly two decades. He has survived two dotcom meltdowns, occasionally finding respite from startups at the safe port of Microsoft. He developed his interactive strategies as a freelance music writer in the 2000s, interviewing such acts as Judas Priest, Megadeth, the Beastie Boys, Everclear, Matchbox 20, and Beck. In addition to his current academic duties, he is a ghost writer and a documentation/training consultant.