I recently attended Tekom OpenLab 2017 – a one-day 'unconference' where techcomm enthusiasts meet to discuss the industry's hottest topics. And because sharing is caring, I'm excited to share some pointers I picked up in this short summary.
Style guide best practices
Here are some of the most relevant insights from the first Tekom OpenLab session:
- When it comes to terminology: keep everyone informed and on the same page by involving the whole team (marketing, techcomm, developers).
- Avoid future conflicts by documenting the justification for your decisions.
- Save time and effort by using established style guides as a basis to work off of, instead of creating your own from scratch.
- Create several style guide variants for different use cases (UI texts/docs/marketing copy), as they almost always have different linguistic needs.
Roles and responsibilities of technical writers
The next session explored the role that tech writers have in the workplace. Three of my peers' comments were particularly illuminating:
- Implementing a 'doc-driven development' model is possible – however, it requires an open-minded company culture to make it work.
- Getting involved early in the development process gives tech writers more time to prepare docs, and lets them contribute valuable usability feedback to developers.
- Collaborating with marketing teams to include product use cases in documentation makes for better, more informative user guides.
Millennials and techcomm
As a millennial, I was absolutely riveted by the discussion on what role 'Generation Y' is playing in the techcomm industry. The conversation covered a range of topics – and although many interesting points were made, one in particular stood out:
- Millennials expect and demand their work life as well as their documentation software to be flexible and straightforward.
Storytelling in tech docs
To round off Tekom OpenLab 2017, participants discussed the merits of incorporating marketing-style 'storytelling' language into technical documentation:
- Storytelling promotes collaboration by building a bridge between marketing, sales, and documentation.
- Including certain keywords can have positive effects on SEO.
- Incorporating marketing language can help you diversify your skillset and develop copywriting skills.
All-in-all, attending OpenLab 2017 was a positive and useful experience. I learned a lot and hope you also found some of these pointers useful. I know I'll be going back next year – see you there?