All Sessions

Aaron Fulkerson
Founder and CEO, MindTouch

In this session, Aaron Fulkerson, Founder and CEO at MindTouch, will explore what it takes to deliver great customer experience. The topics covered during this presentation include:

  • Creating a global, multi-channel help experience
  • Deploying a killer product experience systemin days not months
  • Increasing the SEO value around your product experience
  • Using machine learning to optimize content organization and search results
  • Empowering customers, partners and more



Aaron Fulkerson
Nintendo and MindTouch

Aaron Fulkerson, CEO and Co-founder of MindTouch, will illustrate how companies can change the customer total information experience by using content as a strategic framework. The discussion will include how companies are using product support to build loyalty and create happy customers, why collaboration and contextual interaction are so important to the mix, and how you can build a business case to get executive buy-in.

Come with questions for our panelists in this interactive keynote presentation.

LavaCon 2013: Keynote 9: Aaron Fulkerson, MindTouch: Elevating the Customer Experience: Using Content to Transform Engagement from LavaCon Conference on Vimeo.

Alexander Berman
Content Manager, Kaplan Publishing

The publishing industry is becoming more and more digital every day. Even so publishing houses still have to support a large number of customers who prefer print products. Can they do both without compromising quality? Yes! Kaplan Publishing, the publishing arm of the world leader in test preparation, is undergoing that same transition to digital processes today. Come learn how Kaplan Publishing is building out a digital production process and how it can inform your own efforts.

In this session, you will learn:

  • How historical publishing workflows are breaking down
  • The steps we took in building an effective and multi-channel digital production process
  • How implementing this process will save your company significant resource hours and
  • headaches
  • The advantages of creating a single canonical source for your content
  • Real outcomes from our own implementations in 2013

Can you do content strategy without a formal team or mission? Can you do content strategy with no funding? Even if you’ve only got a guerilla content staff, you can do great things with your content strategy and build a business case for investment in your company’s information experience. Savvy stakeholder management, the intelligent use of metrics, and a collaborative, community-based approach will get you far. In this session, Alyson will explore techniques to lead with a common vision and set of goals, break down organizational barriers, navigate tricky political waters, drive change with metrics, and grow IA skills. She’ll also share a few stories from the trenches to show these concepts in practice.


Many DITA and component content management implementations begin and end with technical communications. But is that all there is? Can you extend the value of DITA to other functional areas such as training and support? Our answer is “Yes.” This presentation takes a look at the opportunities and challenges for cross functional sharing of information with training organizations and helps you look ahead to what’s next in your journey to deliver on the full benefit of shared content.
In this presentation, we will provide a roadmap for success that addresses the following topics:

  • Making the business case
  • Identifying the information design that links your implementation with the business case
  • Evaluating your learning model and content for use with DITA
  • Overcoming such objections from the learning community as we have to use PowerPoint
  • Leveraging the functionality of the DITA learning and training specialization including linking such
  • features as aligning learning objectives and certification questions to content
Andrea Ames
Sr. Information Experience Strategist, IBM

How can we accomplish more with less? Work smarter, not harder? Get things done through people? Team more? Do these seem like the latest string of corporate buzz phrases? For better or worse, when working within the enterprise content strategy ecosystem, these concepts are real! So how do we do these things? Influence!

At some point, an individual will max-out capacity, burn out, get sick, or worse. By getting things done through other people, we can multiply our personal capacity and ability to do more. By effectively influencing those other people, we can get more of the right things done.

By focusing people to do more of the right things, we have the potential to achieve more value with less—fewer people, less money—and in this economy, we’re all surviving with less of everything. To do all of this, however, influence is the key.

Join Andrea to learn more about the concept of influence as a critical leadership capability, its key components, and how it can be used to benefit business and add career value. You will learn the art of influencing without authority, how to become personally influential, and how to lead teams and overcome obstacles through influence.


You’ve defined a content strategy, so all you have left to do is implement it, right? Well, maybe. If you’re in an enterprise of any size, your strategy encompasses far more than the content for which you are personally responsible. The most critical precursor to successfully implementing your strategy is to define and develop the right ecosystem of people and processes to ensure the best information experience for your customers while enabling your content creators to flourish and be productive. Understanding the influencers and inhibitors of that ecosystem will enable you to create the best possible environment for implementing your strategy.

Join Alyson and Andrea to learn more about:

  • Defining and applying an end-to-end product lifecycle to ensure efficient business processes and methodologies from the outside in, including:
    • Gathering, analyzing, and prioritizing market and user requirements
    • Understanding the business goals affecting your strategy
  • Effectively influencing the human component of the ecosystem, including:
    • Collaborating across the enterprise to establish and maintain communication, business controls, governance, and standards
    • Ensuring transparency, community, and the organic growth of content
    • Developing organizational strategies to support your strategy
  • Defining and measuring success using metrics for internal efficiency and external effectiveness
Andrew Thomas
Product Marketing Director, SDL Content Management Technologies

Last year at LavaCon, I presented some ideas that confronted the common wisdom still in place for many companies. This year we’ll take a fresh look at the new common sense emerging around structured content. Does print still matter? Do page or word counts? Is DITA delivering on its promise of automated publishing, lower costs, and reusable content? Is social content actually important? And what does tech pubs have to do with customer experience really? Isn’t it all just a bunch of marketing hype? I’ll give some updates on how far we’ve come in a year, and we can try to answer these questions together.

Angelos Tzelepis
Senior Director of Data, Alumnae Association of Mount Holyoke College

We all hear about big data, but for any size data, the key to understanding lies in visualization. How do you discover when you are on the right track, or the wrong one? How do you find a track you never anticipated? Examples and lessons learned from localization, start-ups, and higher ed.

Ann Rockley
President, The Rockley Group

Content Marketing is gaining recognition as more and more consumers tune out the cacophony of marketing and social media. Providing consumers with high-value content, versus a hard-sell, is gaining more customers and establishing corporate credibility and expertise.

While organizations can outsource their content marketing development, most organizations have a treasure trove of good content at their fingertips; they just need to know how to find and leverage it.

This workshop will provide hands-on understanding of how to:

  • Map customer needs to the rich sources of content being generated across the
  • Define a content strategy that supports your customer from interest to acquisition, to long-term strong brand loyalty.
  • Develop structured content models that enable you to adapt your content to multiple audiences, multiple channels, and multiple devices.

Participants will walk away with a clear set of guidelines for creating a unified content marketing strategy that supports your customers anywhere, anytime, and on any device.

Ann Rockley and Jack Molisani
President of The Rockley Group / Director of The Lavacon Conference

Jack and Ann will give the closing session for the conference.

Autumn Cuellar
Associate Product Manager, Design Science, Inc.

MathML is a well-known and widely-used standard for encoding mathematics within XML workflows, but what you may not know is that MathML is not just a standard that affects your internal workflow, used only for storage and converted to images when you need to present your content to your audience.

MathML is a key part of the digital publishing revolution towards enriched content. Its recent inclusion into the HTML5 and EPUB 3 standards is helping to bring to fruition the promise of interactive content for math-based industries around the world. In this session, attendees will learn how the Math Stack, consisting of MathML, MathJax, HTML5, and EPUB 3, can enhance your math content in this exciting digital publishing era.

Ben Rubenstein
Social Media and Online Community Manager, Tech Target

As images gain more importance in the social media landscape, it can be tough for publishers (aka everyone) to keep up. In this session, we’ll take a look at ways non-visual professionals can approach this new challenge, and in the process help to break down silos and change the way we think about content creation from the start.

Bernard Aschwanden
Publishing Smarter

In this hands-on, interactive workshop on improving the user experience, learn how to plan your next help project to include not only the print or online materials, but to also use the best practices in giving the audience what they need, in the format they want, and at the time they
need it.

Using the latest Adobe Technical Communication Suite (if you don’t have it, we’ll have 30 day trials for you to use) create a full documentation plan, build content, develop videos, and combine your content into one seamless deliverable. Publish to formats including PDF, online help, and even to YouTube.

Learn to use the tools correctly and plan for success. When done, return to your job with the tools, tips and tricks to ensure you can deliver what your users want.

Brenda Huettner
Independent consultant

It happens all the time: You find a company offers a free product, or an open source tool that does exactly what you need. But free often comes with associated costs of one kind or another. During this session, we’ll go over some of the most common types of expenses associated with free (such as time, effort, portability, expertise required, and compatibility). We’ll also take a close look at some popular free programs to evaluate first-hand what they might really cost you and your company.


Documentation teams are stressing out as their software teams move to iterative development methods like Agile and Continuous Integration. The pace is faster than they are used to, and it requires working as part of the dev team. We see new roles emerging for technical communicators in this environment. We’ll discuss the types of relationships we’ve seen (including in our own company) and how the workflow changes. We’ll discuss the benefits of using DITA for tight collaboration between the software engineering team and the information developers. We would demo integrating DITA with Agile planning tools (Jira), QA (testrails), and release management. Basically this is “Doc First” on steroids, using DITA for creating agile Use Cases, Test Scripts, and topic-oriented documentation delivered in live systems.

Char James-Tanny
President, JTF Associates, Inc.

You’re reading a tweet, or a Facebook or LinkedIn status update, or an email that includes a link. You click the link and a browser tab opens. You read the information, and then continue on. But what do you do if after you click the link, nothing appears? What do you do if your mouse stops working (or you can’t use it, perhaps because of a broken arm), and nothing happens when you press the TAB key? How do you get the information? How do you navigate? For many people who use screen readers or who can’t use the mouse because of mobility issues, these are common occurrences. But with some changes to the underlying code, you can create web pages that can be used by anyone, even those using older browsers.

During this workshop, you’ll learn:

  • About the differences between HTML4 and HTML5
  • How to create a basic HTML5 page
  • What ARIA is
  • About ARIA roles, properties, and states
  • How to set up keyboard navigation
  • How to create an accessible menu
  • How to create a slider
  • How to create a form
  • How to create a data table
  • Getting more information about ARIA
Charles Cooper
Vice President, The Rockley Group

We spend our lives interacting with things. For many different reasons; for enjoyment, for education, for relaxation. But for many years, we’ve reduced the interaction level or “flattened out” the experiences we offer our users and focused on getting our content out on paper. And that made sense—as paper was the dominant method of sharing information, we did the best we could with what we had.

However, as technology has become more advanced (and pervasive) we’ve moved to PCs, then laptops and now mobile devices—phones and tablets. And as this mobile technology becomes more powerful we’re starting to do new things with it. We don’t just look at one screen; we look at two or even three at the same time. We watch one screen while referencing another. Text isn’t enough. We expect video, audio, and augmented reality. We’re starting to share information between screens and use and share experiences between our screens and those of our friends.

Join Charles Cooper, VP of The Rockley Group, as he provides examples of new methods of sharing information, interacting with our customers, and guidelines and pointers for implementing these new technologies.


Today, content creators have an opportunity to position content as the most pivotal asset to a company’s continued success. The world has changed and users now want instant access to information. Content creators have to evolve into Knowledge Brokers and align their development process with their company’s business strategy.

This presentation discusses the powerful role Knowledge Broker content plays in business strategy. It also covers the correct workflow that is needed to generate revenue through documentation. Finally, it looks at methods used to deliver content across multiple devices and the method that is most effective and why. If you want to increase the role of documentation in your business strategy, this presentation will give you the right mindset when looking at strategies for your content.

Clay Delk
Sr. Content Strategist, Volusion

As Karen McGrane says, most user interfaces “provide a window to the database fields, rather than a workflow designed to support user goals.” In this session, I’ll discuss my work in a complete overhaul of the Volusion software admin, including new designs, content, and workflows. My work is focused on editing the content to improve usability and reduce support calls. I collaborate with UX, designers, customer support, and the product development teams to identify pain points and understand user expectations.

Attendees will learn how to work across their organization to understand internal needs and goals, while also maintaining a strong focus on the end user. We’ll look at the importance of style guides, user testing, iterative design, customer feedback, and good old-fashioned creative writing.


Expanding the technical communication sphere of influence requires a more holistic approach to supporting the business organization than many in the field are familiar with. There’s no argument that technical communicators can add value, contribute to the bottom line, and help build loyal, fanatical customers. This session explores how technical communicators can build the business case(s) you need to take a more active visible role in product development and business strategy by speaking directly to management’s needs and agenda.

We’ll discuss what skills that we already possess (audience analysis, research, rhetoric and reason) can be used to build business cases that develop and expand your team, your influence in the organization and your ability to support the goals central to your company’s success.

We’ll discuss…

  • What are “business cases?”
  • Knowing your audience
  • Good and bad arguments
  • Key ingredients
  • Delivering your case
  • Role playing
  • Benefits of building business cases

This case study follows the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) from just two people tweeting in 2008 to a robust social media presence which now includes 12 Twitter accounts, three Facebook profiles, LinkedIn, Flickr, and YouTube, along with a highly respected science blog. The @NIOSH Twitter account was recently ranked #7 of all Washington DC tweeters.


Oracle and EPM System Information Development teams create three- to-five minute Video Feature Overviews to provide recorded demonstrations of new and enhanced functionality in Oracle applications. Customers can find the links to Video Feature Overviews in online help, release notes, press releases, Oracle’s social media feeds including Twitter, Facebook, and Google+, Oracle technical blogs, articles, and presentations. These successful videos generate thousands of weekly hits on YouTube. The presenters for this session have created more than fifty Video Feature Overviews that are available from the My Oracle Support platform and YouTube.

In this session, you will learn:

  • The business case for Video Feature Overviews: from the initial concept to their uses in marketing materials, documentation, and training. We’ll also discuss the advantages of in-house production over using a video production company, such as cost, time-to-completion, and existing product familiarity.
  • The ecological niche for our videos: Filling the gap between high level marketing materials and product tutorials.
  • How Oracle and EPM identified a need and began creating videos to fill it.
  • The tools Oracle Information Development uses to create videos, and why they were chosen.
  • Creating quality videos with no budget and in less time than commercial studios.
  • How we create our videos.
    • Determining the requirements and scoping—”What do the stakeholders want?”
    • Creating a script.
    • Recording narrations and demonstrations.
    • Editing and producing your video content.
    • Publishing and promoting, or getting your video in front of your audience.
Don Day
Contelligence Group

Adaptive content is a timely consideration for improving user experience on the Web. But Web standards fall short of providing consistent tools to guide content authors and application developers, and the XML standards that can provide that consistency often raise the adoption bar too high. A solution lies in using valid XML template documents to drive the setup of Web content editing forms and applications. We’ll show how to use DITA XML templates to guide the creation of Web content that is easy to maintain and integrate with responsive themes and adaptive Web applications.

Eric Freese

In the past traditional publishers were the primary content creators and book stores the primary distributors. In this day, almost every organization is a content creator, responsible for distributing content to an often wide-ranging audience. Eric will discuss the process of preparing content for electronic delivery across a wide range of platforms through creation or conversion. Options for managing electronic versions and applying the appropriate metadata for distribution and increased discoverability will also be discussed.

As more and more rely on their mobile devices for access to online content, organizations are looking at these platforms in new ways.  The eBook reader is often a logical target platform.  However, there are differing standards and channels available, each with differing capabilities.  This makes choosing the right platform even more challenging.  This tutorial will discuss the various standards and platforms, highlighting the opportunities for delivering enhanced content and the challenges that a content creator might face in migrating to these platforms.  We will also discuss which enhancements make sense for different types of content in order to help content owners make wise decisions before spending a large budget for content users will never access.

Jack Molisani
Executive Director, The LavaCon Conference

Jack will give the welcome session for the conference.

Jackie Damrau and Joe Gollner
ARIS Trainer—The Americas at Software AG USA, Inc / Director of Gnostyx Research

In 2012, we presented “Documenting Business Processes Online using One Tool” that excited the audience to view project documentation in a different light. This year, I’d like to continue the discussion by sharing more information about how Structured Business Process Modeling helps business analysts, developers, and QA testers to see the requirements in a graphical form. Structured Business Process Modeling requires an attention to detail to show not only the “happy path” of a requirement, but to identify the many decision paths that a customer may encounter when accessing your Web site or using your specific digital media device.

In this presentation, I’ll cover the different modeling approaches and the business process level architecture pyramid, show an example of each level of the pyramid, cover the common notation used in two standards-based modeling methods: EPC (Event-driven Process Chain) and BPMN (Business Process Management Notation), and conclude by sharing where one can gain more information in the world of business process management.

James Loomstein
Digital Space Consulting

Site traffic is useless without visitors becoming customers. Most businesses face the same inherent problem – obscurity. People don’t know you – and therefore, they can’t buy from you. My goal is teach conference attendees how to leverage digital content and search engine optimization (SE0) to increase/optimize website traffic.

In 60 minutes we will fundamentally change the way attendees approach their web marketing strategy. The goal – be where your customers are when they are looking for your type of product/service.

What attendees will learn:

  • How content marketing and conversion optimization increase organic search ranking
  • Strategically using keywords in natural search to invoke action
  • Content marketing and conversion optimization tools for everyday use (,,,,,,

Measuring what’s working, what isn’t, and acting on this critical information is what drives the continuous optimization of your content. Focusing your quality program roles, responsibilities, and accountabilities is the key to simplifying your workload and lowering costs.

In this session, we will demonstrate how to:

  • Establish your Article Quality Index (AQI) to measure the success of your content quality program.
  • Determine your Article Utility Index (AUI), what content is valid AND valuable.
  • Manage your Content Validity Check (CVC) Project(s).
  • Identify and track improvement opportunities (Flagging) and enhancements (Fixing) on an ongoing basis.
Jason Toon
Head Writer,

The power of total—even brutal—honesty can deepen your bond with your audience and cut through the skepticism of today’s high-information customers. In this session, we’ll examine some case studies in showing the world how the sausage is made (sometimes, literally).

Jennifer DeAngelo and Allison Joyce
Experis Global Content Solutions

The Content Assessment Hero League fought the evil of increasing costs of content authoring and localization by using the super powers of strategy, reuse, and automation technology. We’ll take a look behind the masks at our heroes’ identities (Experis and Acrolinx), and how they prepared for their fight with the right tools (strategy, process, and software)—and won.

Performing a content audit might sound scarier than it is. To help fight that trepidation in the hearts of communicators and marketers everywhere, we break down the content audit process into three simple steps:

  1. Ask the right questions. What are your business objectives? Who are your target personas? Are you reaching them at all stages of the buying process?
  2. Assess your content. Using a straightforward grid, you can take an inventory of all the content you have created – and see where the holes are in your communication arsenal.
  3. Correct the imbalance. Start creating the content you need, based on your work in Step 2. Fill in the gaps for your most critical personas along the buying process.

Along the way, we’ll talk about best practices in content creation and touch on ways to reuse content to make your job easier.

Jim Tivy

Jim will explore the use of terminology for authors and readers showing how DITA and DITA enabled tools can exploit terminology to its fullest potential.

In discourse, not all words are created equal. Certain words are central to understanding a subject and other words are not. The organization and consistent use of these important terms, the terminology, is essential to clear communication. Fundamentally, planned and controlled terminology is used by authors in writing and editing, and it is further used by readers searching in glossaries and indexes. Writing tools must make the tasks of authors easy. For example, current DITA writing tools must provide access to terminology lists. Furthermore, search and browse systems in a CMS or online knowledgebase must incorporate terminology to make content quickly findable and understandable for authors and readers.

Technical communication managers often plan how terms will be used in technical communication with an eye to maximizing the value of these terms to both the writers and end customers. This talk lays a framework for understanding where terms are established by the writers and where terms can be used by writers and end customers.

Jo’lene Jernberg and Suzanne Mescan
LSI Corporation / Vasont Systems

With the challenges of a globally dispersed team, a wide variety of products, a unique and varied publishing model, and continuous corporate acquisitions and divestitures, LSI Corporation has conquered the issue of global content collaboration within their organization. In this case study presentation, you will learn how to:

  • Build and retain a productive global team
  • Enable efficient content collaboration in a dispersed writing group
  • Enforce governance over corporate content assets
  • Improve content quality and consistency across the content base
  • Better respond to their clients’ needs by providing on-demand and custom deliverables
  • Leverage existing technologies while implementing new technologies to improve the content lifecycle
  • Afford resources to implement this new content strategy while still producing and maintaining regular content deliveries
Joe Gelb
Joe Gelb, founder and president of Suite Solutions

It’s all about the customer and creating an experience that builds value for them. That means targeting your audience by understanding who they are, what they are trying to accomplish, and meeting their evolving expectations.  In this session we will demonstrate how you can use taxonomy, subject classification and filtering to provide quick access to contextually relevant information of different types, and enable your users to build their own documents and access them in multiple formats for desktop and mobile.

Joe Gollner
Director, Gnostyx Research

This presentation delves into a recent project experience where content issues were found to lie at the heart of high profile problems and where content solutions were found to deliver high visible benefits. Professional communicators have long been accustomed to pleading for budget dollars for even essential tasks. And great effort is applied to the crafting of business cases to justify anything requiring new money. In all of these activities, communicators have a sense that, in their organizations, the financial departments are the center of power and that surely they can be resistant to requests for funding in part because they have everything in their
own shop in good order.

This turns out to not be true. What was discovered in this case study was that the financial department was a veritable sinkhole of spending largely because it handled content so poorly and depended on it so completely. Even more interesting was the fact that the expenditures that this financial department had been making to address its communication problems, pouring untold millions into Business Intelligence (BI) executive dashboards, had been complete and utter failures.

The irony in this story is that with the tactical injection of just a little bit of content technology and a helping or two of sound communication practice this particular financial department was able to make monumental improvements in how it handled financial information and how it communicated it to its executives and to its external partners. Numerous lessons cascade out from this case study but none more important than the fact that content problems exist in every part of your organization and it turns out that the more high profile and “important” departments represent some of the best opportunities for content professionals to demonstrate what they can do to help the organization perform better.

There is a lot of bad content out there. The question to be tackled is why is this the case? There may be one obvious answer in that many organizations just don’t get it. But this answer does not account for the mass of bad content that forces itself into view each and every day. In all too many cases, the bad content appears even when the intent to provide good content is present and even when good people are brought in to help make it so.

We soon recognize that the real question to be answered is what can be done to make things better. With reference to a number of recent project experiences, this presentation will explore the techniques that can be applied in any organization to force out bad content and to make good content the order of the day. As the reference embedded in the title of this talk suggests, the techniques showcased in the case studies mix together some management toughness with the rigorous application of engineering discipline to the design and operation of effective content processes.

The insights that emerge from these experiences will be relevant to everyone participating in the content industry whether as communication professionals, as organizational managers or as technology vendors. And they will be relevant because they provide a glimpse into the shape that the content industry will increasingly assume over the next few years.

LavaCon 2013: Keynote 10: Joe Gollner, Director, Gnostyx Research: Breaking Bad Content from LavaCon Conference on Vimeo.

Joe Gollner and Nolwenn Kerzreho
Director, Gnostyx Research and Consultant, Componize Software

Many organizations that have invested in content management solutions have done so to realize improvements in how they deliver product information to customers. And many of these organizations have realized notable benefits from these investments. But these organizations have also learned something along the way – namely that improving how you share information with customers, important as it is, is only one part of the puzzle. What is really needed is a fundamental renovation in how product information is handled across the entire product lifecycle.

Given the scope of this challenge, and the fact that there are so many disciplinary islands involved, tackling the product information lifecycle can be a daunting prospect. The good news is that organizations that have put into place a modernized content management and publishing environment for addressing the information needs of their customers have also put into place the infrastructure they need to tackle the inevitable problems that persist in the product information lifecycle.

When it is recognized that the behavior that is being facilitated with content technologies is collaboration across and between specialized disciplines then you have everything you need to jump to the next level. Using practical examples implemented using state-of-the-art content management, publishing and engagement solutions, this workshop will introduce participants to what can be achieved when collaboration is enabled among all the stakeholders in an integrated product lifecycle.


As “content strategy” supplants “responsive design” as the latest buzzword in technical communication – understanding how to effectively increase ROI from your process and tools is essential.  Reducing support costs, cutting project development time, and simplifying your translation workflow are just a few objectives companies strive for when implementing a sound content development strategy. Join Jose Sermeno of MadCap Software as he spotlights major trends and showcases case studies from companies utilizing concepts of single source development, topic-based writing, social collaboration and translation management to increase ROI and be successful content developers.

Julie Atkins and Mike McGinnis
Senior Technical Writer, Tridium

Tridium has been looking critically at ways to address the information architect problem and general process issues for content maintenance. They’re concerned about new authors transitioning from a book-paradigm to a topic-paradigm writing style. Information architects are great, but it’s a hard role to hold and harder still for many people to track the real web that gets constructed when content splits into many little topics, which are reused in many different places and contexts. It has been an interesting journey, and they’re trying things that are inside and outside their comfort zones to find something that works best for their team and their content.

In this presentation, you will hear about one team’s journey to develop strategies to author documentation in a DITA world, methodologies for improving reuse visibility to ease the burden on the authoring team, and how they have not only engineered their content, but also their processes and collaboration methods to successfully take the entire team into a new dynamic publishing world. You’ll get practical advice that you can use right away.

Kapil Verma
Senior Prduct Manager, Adobe Systems

The fields of technical communications and content development are evolving rapidly and these developments are changing the way we do our work. Today’s content professionals are tasked with finding efficiencies in the content development process, making content “intelligent” which can be adapted to various devices, and finding new ways of engaging the end user community, which is becoming much more impatient and at the same time more active in the content creation process.

In this presentation, Kapil Verma, Sr. Product Manager, Adobe Systems, will discuss the state of the industry and the key trends that are shaping our future. He will try and gaze into his crystal ball to paint a picture of what the future of Technical Communications may look like and what it means for the professionals today. As part of this presentation, he will also be sharing some interesting findings from a survey done with content developers.

Ken Circeo
Sr. Content Publisher at Microsoft

As of October 8th, all video communication produced by your company must be accessible to people with disabilities. This according to the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) of 2010. So what does this mean for you? Captioning? Voice? Text-to-speech? All of it? Ken will discuss what CVAA compliance means, and provide some insight as to how you can effectively modify your schedule, workflow, and budget to make sure your videos meet CVAA requirements.

Kristen Cokeley and Liz Fraley
Medtronic, Single Sourcing Solutions

Medtronic ENT deployed a brand-new DITA solution, employing all the traditional strategies and best practices for DITA such as specializing only where absolutely necessary and adopting minimalist approach to topic-based authoring. As a global organization, they had a lot of resources to draw upon when architecting their design.

In addition to all the standard reasons and benefits that DITA brings, they had two specific goals. First, they wanted to take control of content that had a complex organizational responsibility and ownership matrix. Several content components which have multiple uses in both customer documentation and federal filing; and, the authoring and ownership of this content belongs to different organizations in the enterprise at different times during the product lifecycle.

Second, they wanted to avoid customization wherever possible. Other divisions hadn’t managed to avoid building software tools or doing heavy customizations. Rather than developing extensive customizations to their content management system or to the tools that join different organizations and parts of the process, they applied methodologies from the disciplines of library science, change management, and process management. This approach not only had significant cost savings at implementation time, but it secured their system against lengthy and complicated upgrade cycles going forward as well.

In this presentation, they’ll describe their metadata content strategy for efficient content retrieval and the content management system that provided mechanisms out-of-the box to apply methodologies from these disciplines bodies of work to rigidly control their content and provide guarantees that met the stringent regulations that govern medical device companies like theirs.

Laura Blaydon
Senior Manager, Content Strategy at SapientNitro

Most organizations today are facing an increasingly competitive global market, requiring greater brand and product differentiation than ever before. In this environment, assessment of competitor content offerings provides valuable insights that can be leveraged when creating near- and long-term content strategies. Whether highlighting opportunities for creating newcontent, repositioning current offerings or completely overhauling content, competitive assessment enables content strategists to provide specific, targeted recommendations that can transform a brand and win the hearts and minds of consumers.

In this session, you will learn:

  • How to identify organizations that could benefit from competitive and/or market review
  • What resources are needed to conduct comprehensive and “quick-hit” assessments
  • What outcomes to expect, and how to position findings for maximum audience impact
  • How to develop and prioritize recommendations to inform a strategic content plan
Leah Cutter
Technology Knowledge Management Specialist,

At, we now have a team called, “Core Documentation.” We are focused on documenting our internal systems and architecture. Many of us on the team don’t create content: We generate framework, best practices, and training for engineer-created content. (Content can include and is not limited to: code comments, run lists, specs, team web pages, wikis, white papers, architectural diagrams, presentations, etc.)

But that goes back to the first question–how do you get someone to write, when the word “writer” isn’t part of their title?

We’ve been successful using several different venues:

  • Documentation “hack” day – where engineers spend a day improving their internal doc
  • Events where posters of different aspects of the architecture are displayed (think art walk, only for engineers)
  • VERY easy to use templates for readme files, etc.
  • Lunch meetings/presentations/training/networking
  • Flattery, appeals to logic (bus factor) and bribes

Attend this session and learn what has and hasn’t worked for us in terms of encouraging engineers to generate content.


With varying resources, content demands and political structures, every company has a different entry point for tackling the content problem. In this session, Leigh Blaylock will provide a step-by-step account of the route her growing company of more than 5,000 employees, five business units, and nine marketing teams took—from content audit; to sales survey analysis; to collateral architecture; to definitions, counts, audiences, and templates—to solve its growing
collateral and content inconsistencies.

You will leave this session with a better understanding of how to foster collaboration and, as a result, tackle big content problems with small budgets, increase buy-in and adoption, and move your company forward in our current content-driven world. And because that world is ever-changing, Leigh will provide an update on how her company is using collaboration to define personas, create durable content, and distribute the right content to the right audience at the right time.

Leigh White

When technical publications groups are considering moving to DITA, one issue they typically consider as a motivator for making the switch is greater customer satisfaction. Yet one aspect that is not considered often enough is how to ensure writer satisfaction. If you are a driver of a DITA implementation, then the writers are your customers and their satisfaction should be one of your priorities. The assumption is too often that writers will immediately see the benefits of DITA and will embrace it without reservation. Anyone who has been part of a DITA implementation knows this is not the case. Just as you have to “sell” DITA to your companies on the basis of cost and efficiency, you have to “sell” DITA to your writers, too. This presentation will focus on some typical sources of writer dissatisfaction and push-back and explore ways to overcome them.


Looking to convert your legacy content to DITA? Traditional best practices suggest that you need to clearly understand beforehand what content you want to convert, and when. And the more time you can spend preparing your content upfront, the more straightforward the conversion process will be. However, even the best laid plans can quickly become de-railed as the inconsistencies and peculiarities of your existing documents become apparent during the conversion process. We will consider these issues and show just how quick, easy and affordable conversion to DITA can be using the Migrate cloud conversion service, placing documentation teams in full control of the conversion process.

Lori Fisher
Director of Information Management User Technology, IBM

Gone are the days when a writer’s day was spent telling users to “enter your name in the Name field.” Instead, we have grown as a profession, keeping up with changes in customer demographics and changes in publishing technology. We are on the brink of yet another evolutionary quantum leap that is reshaping the very core of our profession: transitioning from just “content developers” to “solution providers.”

Yet change never comes easy, especially not when you are leading a global team of content developers though a major process and paradigm shift. It takes strategic vision, C-level buy in and budgets to back it up. It takes strategic planning, infrastructure, retraining and the deft ability to overcome resistance to change.

In this keynote presentation, Lori Fisher, the Director of Information Management User Technology at IBM, shares how she is leading such a major transformation in her company: where they started, how they did it, and what’s next on the horizon.

LavaCon Keynote #7:Lori Fisher, IBM: A Leap in Value Evolution: from “Developing Content” to “Solving Business Problems” from LavaCon Conference on Vimeo.

Marisa Peacock
Business Strategist and Marketing Consultant, The Strategic Peacock

A content strategy is usually only as good as a company’s listening culture. By creating a listening culture, a company will be able to listen to the trends and behaviors of its constituents so it can adjust decision-making processes to reflect and respond to what they hear. Working together, across departments companies can:

  • Audit its current workflow to understand how content is being created and shared
  • Improve content workflow so that processes can be streamlined and optimized
  • Leverage existing media for content development and curation
  • Choose the right online tools to help monitor online conversations across social media
  • Create and deliver reports, which share insights about conversations and necessary actions

In this session, participants will learn how to effectively work together with other departments so they can best optimize their content workflow to meet the needs of their audience across the right channels.

Mark Baker
Principle Consultant, Analecta Communications, Inc.

More and more writers are encountering Agile programming, and often find themselves trying to fit the content development process into an Agile development process. Because the shift to Agile is driven by the development organization, it can often be an uncomfortable fit for content developers.

Agile can be seen as the principles of Lean thinking applied to the development of software. Lean is a system of principles and practices, originally developed by Toyota, and now used across many industries. Every process, every function, and every organization that adopts Lean principles applies those principles to develop lean processes that are specific to their industry, their function, and their company.

Taking the exact procedures that make sense for software development in you company and attempting to apply them directly to content development may not create the best content development process. Creating a Lean content process that integrates well with the Agile development process may work much better than trying to force content development into an existing Agile mold.

This session will take you back to the principles of Lean thinking and Agile development and give you the opportunity to consider what a Lean content development system might look like for your organization, and how it can enable you to create more content in less time — even if your development organization is not doing Agile at all (or is doing it wrong).

Readers dive into the middle of your content using search, links, or indexes, but often find themselves lost in the middle of a long consecutive narrative. Even when the content is produced using common topic-based writing techniques, it often organized like a book, and individual topics do not work well as a starting point for the reader. On the Web, in particular, readers can come from anywhere and land anywhere. Is your content ready to receive them?

People seeking information on the Web are impatient and have many options to choose from. If your content does not work for them immediately, they will move on. Expecting them to navigate complex hierarchies to find the information they need just won’t cut it with this audience. Whatever page they land on has to work for them immediately. It has to be page one.

Whether you deliver on the Web, in a help system, or on paper, we now live in a world in which every page is page one. You need to provide your readers with Every Page is Page One topics, or they quickly become someone else’s readers. In this session you will learn how to write Every Page is Page One topics that work for the reader no matter how they land on them.

Marli Mesibov
UX and CS Specialist

Every strong brand has a personality behind its voice. How do you ensure the personality remains consistent across multiple audiences, who speak with a variety of vocabularies? In this session, we’ll review brands with compelling personalities, and we’ll explore content strategy tools to create and enhance brand personalities and voices.

Marta Rauch
Principal Information Developer, Oracle

Join Google Glass explorer Marta Rauch for a look at Google Glass and its current features, apps, and user experience. Learn how Glass is being used in the fields of medicine, sports, news, and education, and get a glimpse of use cases for enterprise and gamification.

Gamification can help engage audiences and motivate them to achieve goals. Learn how to use the Gamification Framework that is being taught to MBAs at the Wharton School of Business. Complete exercises that will get you started on your own gamification project. You will come away with a method that you can use for gamifying projects or tasks for internal or external audiences.


Before the social media revolution, technical writers struggled to coordinate multiple stakeholder groups in the enterprise to produce effective customer documentation. At Jive, where we both create and use social business community software, a rich set of social tools has provided unprecedented access to technical, business, and marketing content, increased buy-in from stakeholders across the company as well as from customers, improved overall quality, and decreased the time required to research, write, review, and publish help topics.

In this session, you will learn how to use:

  • Shared content spaces to leverage a wide range of experts as content creators and socialize technical content review
  • A team-branded online space to encourage content creation and discussion and improve professional visibility
  • A customer community forum to get direct feedback from customers about their documentation experience
  • Status updates in activity streams to let the company and/or specific departments and people know what we’re working on and how we’re contributing to business objectives
  • @ mentioning to pull in individual SMEs or teams of people to review content before publishing it, vet bug fixes, and generate ideas for documentation content
  • Likes, shares, and gamification to encourage social relationships and reward community participation
  • While our product provides all these capabilities from one collaboration platform, it’s possible to get similar results using some of the social tools available at your company, including freeware.
Massimo Paolini and Liz Fraley
Single Sourcing Solutions / Spectrum Group

Techcomm is starting to talk about how to apply analytics to technical publications content. Customers come to content to find something. Metadata can bring them to your content; user experience studies can help you create more focused content; but does your content really perform?

When a customer comes to your content, they’re typically looking for help in getting started, how to do something specific, or how to fix a problem. Do your how-tos for critical product features see high page views compared to similar how-tos? What is the time, usage level, and connection to other documentation in the greater set of company product content? You know the goal and basic description of the documents you write, but are your documents getting used to solve those goals for customers?

How do you know? More importantly, how do you find out? Do you simply hope that the search engine will do the right thing or that customers will spend valuable time trying to find exactly the right piece of content you wrote? Do they have to sift through pages of search results because the most relevant content isn’t coming up first?
Getting your users to your content is more than meta-tags, indexes, and TOCs. In this session, we focuses on explaining how SEO applies to technical communications content and why you would apply analytics fundamentals when writing techcomm content. In this session, we will talk about how SEO writing techniques fit right into your corporate content strategy and how you can use qualitative assessment to helps drive website traffic and improve the reputation of your content and your company


Matt Sullivan
Owner of Tech Comm Tools

You do great things. By now you’ve learned to create content that writes itself, updates itself, and has a bullet-proof structure model and meta information that absolutely rocks! It publishes everywhere, on-time, always, and in every known language. So why are you the only one who knows it? In this session, you will learn how to:

  • Stop creating/using content that does not further your company agenda.
  • Use content that generates buzz about your product.
  • Formulate a plan that reinforces your content message.
  • Identify content that meets your content marketing goals.
  • Identify content that provides value to your audience.
  • Identify appropriate channels for different types of content.
  • Create a community of peers that will carry your message forward.
  • Provide funnels from your content to convert onlookers to participants/customers.
Megan Gilhooly
INVIDI Technologies

As the new manager of technical communication in 2010, I inherited a team that was disrespected, documentation that was not trusted, and no budget to move content into the 21st century. In this session, attendees will learn how a strategic plan laid the groundwork for massive changes in content at INVIDI Technologies, moving the organization from 300 to 500-page PDF documents (old-school) to online knowledge base and learning management system in 4 short years. They will also learn how aligning strategies with other groups impacted our efforts, both positively and negatively, and what we would have done differently if we had it to do all over again!

Melissa “Misty” Weaver
Content Strategist, Content Insight

An effective content strategy fits the goals of an organization, identifies its key audiences and accounts for the multitude of platforms and channels available to broadcast content. In teaching Content Strategy through practical partnership with a nonprofit that needs a more effective communication plan, I’ve also found that the ability to audit content contextually brings out recommendations a client can quickly understand and adopt.

In this talk, I will cover a series of research audits conducted in my course as a case study on multi-channel content strategy. I will address how to customize and prioritize categories and areas for audit-ing and best practices for making audits less time-consuming and more results driven. I will explore how to reframe the audit process for clients and colleagues and how auditing can help make the need for sustainable, holistic content planning is a must for any organization.

Main Challenge: The client’s Content Management System was configured by a volunteer before a content strategy or plan was created. The lack of consistency and technical issues were keeping the client from sharing their website address, instead sending people to social media channels that had no connection back to important tasks on the website while the site’s usefulness continued to decline and broken or outdated aspects were not corrected.

Overcoming Challenge: Through user research and multiple levels of content and competitive audits, the class quickly prioritized the organization’s business goals, audience preferences and tasks to determine how best to connect current communication channels with actions. In this case, meeting and written recommendations for new content, content revision and consistent channel planning were used to educate the client about content strategy and user experience so they could carry out continued improvements.


In this session, I will outline best practices and strategies to inform companies how to streamline the translation management process for global content marketing. Using world-renowned music discovery application Shazam as an example, attendees will learn how to leverage a new breed of Cloud applications to help global teams collaborate and streamline their content marketing strategy, as well as how to use new technology to measure marketing efforts to ensure effectiveness and determine ROI.

Cloudwords Helps Shazam Reach 150 Million Users in 200 Countries

The Problem: 

Shazam adds 1.5 million new subscribers to its music and television discovery app each week. The majority of their users is located overseas and communicates in 30 languages, making translation a high priority. However, translating large amounts of content and getting the tone right—everything from emails, website updates, app store descriptions and more—is challenging and time-consuming. When Shazam needs to launch an email campaign to communicate a new product launch in 30 languages, it means they need to manage 420 different email campaigns with different messaging.

The Solution:

It’s important for Shazam to move quickly while also maintaining the same tone to promote their brand across all audiences. Using Cloudwords, Shazam was able to identify a single, professional translator to “nail” their tone of voice and can manage the translation process from a single, cloud-based dashboard—a key component to their success. And with Cloudwords translation memory, approved, already-translated copy is ready to use when needed, a critical feature when pushing product updates to more than 150 million users in 200 countries.

Mysti Berry
Principal Content Strategist,

In this session, you’ll learn how online help changed the primary information architectural tool from inline links to user-goal based structure with minimal See Also links. We’d always delivered our help as HTML topics in a single portal, plus a single (giant) PDF. When we carved the content up into smaller bundles, we discovered an over-reliance on inline links. The challenge: to help writers understand how basic architecture choices and knowledge of user behaviors could reduce our reliance on links and improve the customer experience.

Our team rightly insisted that they understand the information architecture theory and practice driving this change before they’d implement the requested changes. Proving this to smart, experienced writers was one the biggest challenge of my career. Our writers are the fiercest user advocates and weren’t about to change their habits without clear proof that the user experience would improve.

Did the user experience improve? I’ll share the preliminary evidence that all the work we did is beginning to pay off, and explain how this first attempt to make our content more structured will support the multichannel publishing challenges that are now just around the corner.

Neil Perlin
Hyper/Word Services

The latest versions of help authoring tools like Flare and RoboHelp have moved far beyond their online help roots to become powerful multichannel authoring tools that can single-source output to ebooks, web apps, HTML5-based web apps, and even native Apple and Android apps. The mechanics of moving traditional help projects to mobile are surprisingly simple. It’s in interface design, information design, and content features that things can get messy.

In this session, you’ll learn about:

  • The three main types of mobile supported by help authoring tools and the importance of defining your specific mobile outputs.
  • The main interface differences between traditional online help and different types of mobile.
  • Content analysis to determine what help authoring tool features work, may work, and won’t work in different mobile outputs.
  • Time permitting, we’ll also take a look at the emerging set of GUI tools that can convert a traditional web site to mobile form and the problems that can arise with legacy content.

After a decade of false starts, mobile has taken off in the mass market. Tens of thousands of apps are available for iPhones, Android phones, and other devices; is there room for more in this seemingly saturated market?

Surprisingly, yes. Many of those existing apps are simply variations on a theme; search for Angry Birds in the App Store and you’ll get 1,142 hits. But those apps may not address the specific needs of internal business markets —think Internet vs. intranet. Who’ll create these new, customized apps to address these internal business markets? More to the point, can technical communicators create them?

Until recently, the answer was usually no because app creation required a professional programmer. Today, however, new GUI mobile app development tools are emerging. These tools hide most or all of the coding and let the authors focus on the app’s content, functionality, and appearance. (Think about trying to create a help system by working directly in the XHTML vs. working with a GUI tool like Flare or RoboHelp and you’ll get the picture.) In this workshop, you’ll try it. In four hours, you’ll create a simple but functional native app with no coding. You’ll:

  • Do this using a GUI native app development tool called ViziApps Studio.
  • Leave with an overview of app design principles and an actual app with data you can modify without being a programmer.
  • Get a good sense of what you can create and the initial knowledge needed to research other tools.
  • Work hands-on, alternating between viewing explanatory slides and actually creating the app.


  • A laptop running Windows XP or above, preferably Windows 7, or a current Mac, and IE 9, Firefox, Chrome, or Safari.
  • An iPhone running iOS 5 or an Android phone running Android 2.2 or above.


You’ll receive specific setup instructions about a week before the workshop. Setup will take under an hour and is free.

Nick Finck
Senior Manager of User Experience at Amazon AWS

In this session, Nick Finck will explore the topic of content strategy and its role in relation to the overall user experience. This is a high-level talk on seeing the bigger picture of what it means to ensure your customers have a good experience and what is necessary to achieve that be it for websites, mobile apps, in-store, in-car, or in the living room. He will explain how to integrate content strategy into your existing digital design practice and beyond.

Lavacon 2013 Keynote 8: Nick Fink: How Content Strategy Fits Into the User Experience from LavaCon Conference on Vimeo.

Slide Deck: Nick Finck:  How Content Strategy Fits Into the User Experience – LavaCon 2013 on Speaker Deck.

Noz Urbina
Senior Consultant, Mekon

Adaptive content is one of the most powerful and critical concepts of this decade. It is an attempt to address a never-before-seen diversity of content contexts and platforms, as well as sky-high user expectations. We are in an age where we’re already starting to bore with our smartphones. What were head-spinning miracles of science and technology less than three years ago “lack innovation” today. With customers assimilating new technologies into their lives and resetting expectations at this speed, the pressure to provide innovative, differentiating and strategically significant content experience is higher than ever. New platforms and interface paradigms are just around the corner. Adaptive content promises to help us address these challenges, but it still takes organisations years to adapt themselves. Noz Urbina focuses on how content architecture and process need to be altered for adaptive content, and what to do when reality sets in.

It seems sometimes like management engagement with your content strategy is like a great mystical prize sealed up in the highest tower of a maze-like castle; and there’s a huge moat; and the whole thing is on top of a mountain…

To actually reach it is a challenge that will in itself take a strategy, special tools (and weapons?), and a great mountain-climbing, maze-solving team.

Noz Urbina shares some of his experience on how we can get closer to our content strategy objectives by not falling at the first barrier: getting the necessary support to develop and implement it. Based on a career selling content strategies into a diverse range of organisations – from a few hundred staff to tens-of-thousands – some of his tips will involve judicious use of common sense, and others will be potentially surprising.  Learn how you can storm that castle, and claim your prize.

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Pam Noreault
ACI Worldwide

This session’s focus is on next steps. The content strategy is completed and approved, you’ve purchased your tool set, you’ve implemented structured authoring and content, and you’re well on your way to making your strategy a reality. So what’s next? You can’t be done. You’re never done. The next step is constant improvement and you must plan it. In this session, attendees will learn about planning the next steps and what to consider. This session will discuss:

  • Metrics and measurements – Proving the ROI you said you’d get
  • Integrating other departments and company acquisitions
  • Streamlining processes and workflows
  • Implementing multi-channel publishing
  • Implementing on-demand publishing
  • Improving content quality
  • Generating revenue
  • Integrating customer research, feedback, and ideas into content

The organization involved in this case study a large software security company based in the UK. The main challenge was the budget constraints and then the decisions we had to make with the tools we implemented. We overcame the challenge by implementing cheaper tools, and then using a source control system for our repository. However, we made it work for the writers and the translation team. We really saved a lot of money in the end.

The presentation is based on one global DITA implementation/conversion which involved four different sites: UK, Germany, USA, and Canada. This conversion also involved translation into seven languages and working with an in-house translation team of 13. This presentation will focus on the goals of the project, the process that was used to achieve these goals, the good decisions that were made, the poor decisions that were made, the final outcome of the conversion, and the timeline and time involved to complete the conversion. This presentation will also provide cost-savings information as well as the tools and techniques that were chosen for this project because this project was done on a shoe-string budget. In this session, attendees will learn processes, learning experiences, lessons learned, and a typical budget for a large DITA implementation/conversion project. Also, learning from someone else’s mistakes is valuable.

This presentation has the following goals:

  • Present a case study on a global DITA implementation/conversion.
  • Provide an overview of the project goals.
  • Discuss the ways that these goals were achieved.
  • Discuss what went right and what went wrong and how we mitigated and fixed those things that went wrong.
  • Explain the final outcome of the project and the lessons that were learned.
  • Provide information around time involved to complete the project.
  • Include cost savings for the project and how the cost savings were determined.
  • Provide the metrics that were used to track improved processes and turnaround times.
  • Show the budget and then show the actual money spent on the project.

Anonymous case study on how migrating to DITA helped a major insurance company to make their policies and procedures easier to use and more readily accessible to their agents. DITA not only supported multichannel delivery to PDF (for Print and Download) as well as a live content server to step through procedures in an interactive interface that includes text to speech, keeping agents focused on their tasks on-line. The key message is that using structured content helped improve search precision and recall – returning relevant portions of large reference documents – even including rows from massive tables. ROI was focused on call center call diversion. The goal was to make Agents independent so the support and underwriting call centers could focus on hard questions and helping to grow business – not answer dumb questions like How To questions about entering data in the system to get a quote.

PG Bartlett

In order for content to be useful, people first have to be able to find it. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is just a fancy term for improving the ‘findability’ of your content.
If you’re a technical documentation manager, optimizing your content for search lets you demonstrate how to add value to the organization beyond creating great content. For example, some organizations have seen significant drops in online support costs simply by investing modestly in findability.

In this presentation, you’ll get practical advice about how to figure out which keywords you should include and how you should include them. You will learn how to optimize other aspects of your content to improve your search rankings, such as metadata content and URL structure. And you will understand how to improve your click-through rate by creating search snippets that will attract attention and spur action.


One of the hardest challenges in a mid-to-large size organization is keeping information consistent so that customers receive the same message across the board. Information silos arise within companies making it difficult to communicate with customers effectively. So how do you break down the silos, build bridges throughout an organization, and provide lasting benefits to your customers?

Join Rajal Shah and Richard Hendricks of Juniper Networks, as they share examples of how to establish partnerships across departments and transform a “technical publications” department into an “information experience” cross-functional team. Case studies include:

  • Building content partnerships to align information across several departments
  • Creating new documentation applications to streamline and enrich the customer experience
  • Developing example-based and solution-based documentation with the help of Marketing, Beta Test, and Sales Engineering
  • Establishing a bi-directional relationship with Training to improve both training and documentation deliverables
  • Partnering with Marketing and Engineering to align product names across hardware systems, software, marketing collateral, and technical documentation and more!

Attend this session and learn what has and hasn’t worked for us in terms of encouraging engineers to generate content.

Rhyne Armstrong
Director of Documentation, RouteMatch Software

Silos can be bad for employees, but it can be down-right dangerous for your clients. In this session, we will discuss how we are using a multi-team approach to content creation, and how we developed a single tool for content distribution. A single place for marketing, support, and documentation information.

Rhyne Armstrong, Bonni Graham, and Lisa Pietrangeli
RouteMatch Software / Global Scholar / ThirtySix Software

Ready to break out of your shell? Need to pitch a product or idea? Been asked to demonstrate a new application or feature? In Part I of this workshop, Rhyne Armstrong from RouteMatch Software will take you through the necessary steps for creating and delivering a presentation that will make a lasting impact on your audience. We will cover different types of presentations, delivery styles, visual aids, handouts, and how to prepare for the unexpected. Our goal is to equip you with the skills and confidence you need to step up, speak out, and show off!

Never be stumped by interview questions or meetings! In Part II, Bonni Graham from Global Scholar and the improv group, “The Creative Urges,” and will explore business and career lessons learned from improvisational comedy. Improv comedy hones your reaction skills so you can avoid being stumped in the moment, then thinking of the perfect thing to say once you’re back at your desk. Although improv looks unstructured, in fact there are a few simple rules that can help you think on your feet faster in any situation. We’ll view a few slides, play a few games, and have a good time!

Finally, in Part III of this workshop, Lisa Pietrangeli will show you how to influence change in your company. Technical communicators learn about new tools and methods, yet often are not equipped with the confidence and language necessary to sell an idea back to their companies. As a technical communicator, you are up to date on all of the new writing methods and innovative tools of the trade. You know how important content reuse is, how critical good templates are, and how best to work on a team. However, when you identify a better method or a better tool, or recognize opportunities for process improvements, it can be a challenge to convince your company to explore your solution and to get a budget approved.

Technical communicators attend conferences and programs all the time to improve their own knowledge and skills. They are intelligent, adaptable, capable people, yet often lack the confidence to be change leaders in their companies. Through use of a case-study example and hands-on exercises, we will discuss how to be effective at impacting change, getting your company’s support, and helping your company succeed.

Sabine Bennett

In this session, attendees will learn how the technical documentation team at uses Chatter, a proprietary internal real-time enterprise social networking to communicate and collaborate on documentation projects and with other teams in the organization. We are one of the most active social network users within the company. We gather information from various engineering groups, marketing, localization, and support teams to generate documentation in a variety of formats for internal users as well as customers.

Even though each writer is responsible for documenting a certain product area, we frequently have to make updates across the entire documentation set. Maintaining a high level of communication, cooperation, and information sharing among the teams is crucial to make sure that nothing is lost. For us, enterprise social networking has made it a lot easier to connect with people in other departments. It turned the company into a community, where people feel connected despite geographic and functional divides.

Sarah O’Keefe
Founder, Scriptorium Publishing

Content initiatives are putting new demands on technical communication—improving customer experience, building interactive documents, including advanced visualizations, integrated translations, and more.

To meet these requirements, we must increase the velocity of technical communication. That means stripping out inefficiency and creating content development workflows that eliminate wasted time. Most publishing systems are ill-equipped for flexible, fast, and changeable production. Instead, they are intended to support a manufacturing process, in which the result is static (like print or PDF).

For today’s workflows, this approach is not good enough. We must increase our velocity so that we can support the requirements that are coming.

Scott Carothers
Sr. Globalization Executive, Kinetic

Translations are a commodity yet many companies have one or two Language Service Providers (LSPs). This presentation is from the Buyers’ perspective utilizing Translation Management Systems. Buyers are taking back total control by centralizing enterprise-wide workflows, maximizing TM ownership and rating vendors. Buyers are seamlessly bidding out translation, review, and DTP processes to expand savings. Business intelligence is at their fingertips per vendor – per language pair. Greater content reuse is being validated with existing staff while reducing the stress and cost of going global. Buyers are showing their management understandable performance and measurable savings. See translation headaches cured.

Seth Earley
CEO of Earley & Associates

Planning, composing and organizing content and creative assets with taxonomy for multi-channel publishing, dynamic presentation, and responsiveness to audience context – that’s Content Choreography!

Join Seth Earley for this half-day LavaCon 2013 Pre-Conference Workshop on Content Choreography to learn how Earley & Associates clients are using taxonomy and metadata to drive authoring and creative, translation and publishing processes, content lifecycle, Ux dynamics, content indexing, site search facets and filtering, even SEO, for greater marketing agility.

  • Get the information architecture view of how to harness and harmonize taxonomy across systems, processes, channels, devices and presentation layers to drive content in context.
  • Take a look inside a mobile app design to see how content, taxonomy and interactive wireframe techniques combine to produce a compelling user experience.
  • And walk away with pragmatic, actionable recommendations for a Content Choreography roadmap and pilot that will fit within your launch schedule.
Sharmila Rammohan
Manager of Technical Publications, Synopsys

The written word can be interpreted in different ways depending on the audience. How can we ensure that our multicultural audiences easily understand the information we present in technical documentation? This session will focus on how to convert complex information using appropriate visual aids and will cover a broad range of topics in visual technical communication, including basic design principles applicable to any medium; effective presentation of concepts, procedures, reference information, and numerical data to make documentation easy to understand for global audiences. It will be a mini-workshop with some example exercises.

Sharon Burton
Independent consultant

MadCap Flare is solving a lot of your content development problems. So what’s the big issue left? Consistent terminology. If you’re working with a group of people, you know that getting everyone writing to the same style guide can be difficult. But the content reuse possibilities in Flare require consistent language across all topics.

TedoPres has solved this with a new plug-in for Flare. This presentation will show you what HyperSTE adds to Flare and why this may be the tool you can’t do without.

Shawn Prenzlow
Team Manager and Content Strategist, Steyer Associates

You’re defining your project strategy, maybe started your content inventory or audit. But before long you’ll need to tell the powers-that-be what resources you’ll need for the project and how much it’s all going to cost.

There are many “Content Strategy 101” resources, but what about “Content Resourcing 101” and “Content Budgeting 101”? Where is that information? It’s in this workshop! Shawn Prenzlow, an experienced Content Strategist with 20 years of content-planning experience, will share the fruits of long labor with you. After planning dozens of real-life projects, that were funded and that shipped(!), she can’t wait to tell you how she did it.

This workshop will include several examples of resource evaluations and plans for projects: some small, some large; some simple and some multi-channel. Along the way, Shawn will also describe how she thinks through options for building scalable, non-traditional resource models that are uniquely structured for a project’s individual needs. She’ll also spend a goodly chunk of time with Excel, demonstrating the budget-estimating methodology she uses for each project.

After attending this mini-workshop, you will be able to:

  • Prepare a detailed, quantifiable justification for their project resource requests
  • Create a spreadsheet-based budget estimate for a content project
  • Identify non-traditional options for resourcing their project
Stacey Brown
Talent Management Specialist and President of Mindlink Resources, LLC

On behalf of the Globalization and Localization Association, Stacey Brown will examine the best practices in quality assurance for translation projects. We’ll cover practical steps for planning or improving QA processes and for cultivating qualified staff. We’ll also explore different ways to optimize the process for the capabilities of the QA testers. Learn more about different types of testing (language reviews, formatting, functionality, automation) and how to effectively combine these processes to produce the right quality for your job.

Steve Walker
Experis Global Content Solutions

Content is everywhere, in every company, but not every executive sees the financial benefit. In this session, we’ll use story-building techniques to market your content strategy to the Executives and prove how a well-developed business plan with a story equals a bigger budget.


Technical communicators or managers are often tasked with researching the benefits of converting to structured content and using a component content management system (CCMS) to manage and produce their business information. But finding solid information on the benefits can be difficult, as can identifying costly bottlenecks in the current process. Join this open forum discussion moderated by DCL and Vasont Systems about how to identify the key elements involved reaping a solid return on investment of a content management strategy. Get the answers to questions, such as:

  • What are realistic improvement numbers to strive for?
  • What is the true cost of current processes?
  • What are the benefits of a hybrid approach?
  • What are the critical factors for a successful content management strategy?
  • How can you eliminate content quality issues?
  • In what areas should I see an ROI?

This session will be an interactive discussion, so come prepared to participate!

Tom Aldous
Senior Vice President of Global Operations, Acrolinx

In this session, Tom Aldous from Acrolinx will present a practical view of the key components of making content strategy happen. Using concrete real-life examples, the presentation will show how executing on a content strategy means implementing three aspects: governance, optimization, and analytics.

Governance means setting standards and setting up processes to ensure that standards are maintained. Content Analytics are critical in understanding where your content needs attention, and delivering metrics and reporting on content. The final piece of the puzzle is Content Optimization, which involves ensuring that content creators get the support they need in writing content that is findable (“search-ready”), translatable (“global-ready”), and in tune with its target audience (“people-ready”).

Val Swisher
Founder, Content Rules

“My content is translated into more than four languages.”
“My content problems exponentiate with each language and culture we add.”
“My global websites are completely unmanageable.”
“I don’t know where to begin or what to do.”

If any of these statements describes your situation, then you need a content strategy. But, not just any content strategy. You need a global content strategy.

In this fast-paced session, Val Swisher will introduce you to the seven components of creating a global content strategy. You’ll walk away with an understanding of each component, where it fits, and why it is important. If global content is overwhelming you, come learn how to tame it and make it more manageable now and in the future.

Victoria Koster-Lenhardt
Global Employment Consultant to the US State Department

Due to no fault of your own, you never know when you’re going to get laid off these days. So be prepared. Even though the US economy and jobs for content professionals are looking up, our industry is going through a major paradigm shift. And it’s not about tools. Some people say it’s time to adapt or die. In fact, the leaders in our field do just that. They adapt. What it really takes is knowing and doing work you want to do that people want to pay for, expanding your skills to match your passions and core values, becoming a recognized expert, and embracing the lessons from your perceived failures.

It also takes a lifetime of networking where you allow yourself to be known. It’s about engaging with people who you find interesting and want to work with professionally. Every time you meet someone, your journey has the potential for positive change. “Everything you do counts,” wrote Joan Didion in many of her writings. Every person you meet matters. This keynote session will inspire you to explore a new course for your professional life; one that is more rewarding and fulfilling. There is nothing accidental about your career. Your dream job is closer than you think. Are you ready to seize the opportunity?

LavaCon 2013 Keynote #1: Victoria Koster-Lenhardt: The Expanding Role of Content Professionals: Seize the Opportunity! from LavaCon Conference on Vimeo.

Vikram Verma
Product Manager at Adobe Systems

In this era of device explosion, when consumers are spending more time on smartphones and tablets than on PCs, it has become increasingly important for organizations to reach their customers by offering content on these new devices. However, it is easier said than done, as the traditional output formats such as Webhelp are ill-suited for these devices because of their varying screen sizes.

In this presentation, Vikram Verma, Product Manager, Adobe Systems, will describe how organizations are adapting to the multi-device era and will share the best practices to keep in mind while creating content for these devices. He will also discuss some of the content strategies relevant for these devices and will show you how to publish your content and make it accessible to end-users.


In 2012, VMware introduced a new Web-based client for its flagship vSphere product that presented a very different user experience from the previous installed client. The company was concerned that customers might balk at adopting the new software because the user experience was unfamiliar.

In this session, attendees will learn how the VMware Technical Publications team led a crossfunctional effort to create a library of videos to help customers make the transition to the new client. We involved a number of teams across the company in every stage of the process from identifying which workflows to document through scripting and production of the videos. I’ll discuss how we gathered input from various teams to shape our strategy. For example, the user experience and technical marketing teams provided feedback from customer demos on troublesome workflows. I’ll also describe how the cross-team collaboration with our technical marketing and support teams, who also produce video, prevented duplication of effort. The end result was a series of more than 20 videos that gathered over 50,000 views in the first several weeks they were live.


People want the same experience with technical documentation that they have on Facebook, Google, Amazon, or Twitter. It must be fast, fun, and efficient. But the reality is far from that. While authoring solutions have greatly evolved over the last ten years, their publishing counterparts are still stuck in a static “flat and fat” HTML or PDF based document generation model delivering a poor user experience.

By switching from this print-oriented view to a new topics- web- and user-centric approach, organizations have a tremendous opportunity to leverage their documentation, provide new features and improve their customer relationship.

After having gone through the analysis of what is wrong with publishing technical documentation today, see how to create a new user experience using Antidot Fluid Topics — taking full advantage of the structured documentation approach to integrate the principles of dynamic semantic publishing.