The LavaCon Content Strategy Conference: Creating Unified Content Experiences | October 27-30, 2019 | Portland, OR

Conference Schedule

Conference Schedule

View the Schedule at a Glance and Final Program in PDF, or scroll down for the complete program in HTML.

Check out the stellar program we have for Portland, then register today to take advantage of early registration discounts.

Sunday: Pre-conference Workshops

Registration and coffee

NOTE:  Breakfast and lunch on Sunday is on your own.  Here is a list of nearby restaurants, everything from McDonald’s to food trucks.


Virtual Reality (VR) is becoming a popular tool for telling stories, and now you have the chance to experience it firsthand! Join the Facebook AR/VR Experiences team for this exclusive workshop where you will learn the principles of immersive storytelling and build your own story in VR.

  • The 3 Ps (Planning, Preparing, Performing).
  • How to figure out the parameters of a presentation (audience, etc.).
  • How to focus your topic and limit your ideas.
  • How to build logical structure.
  • How to use hooks, anecdotes, and segues.
  • How to work with the audience.
  • Tips and tricks of rehearsing.

Join Andrea for a half-day, experiential tour of several techniques used in Design Thinking. Using one or more sample problems, workshop participants will work together to develop solutions following a Design Thinking framework. Because we’ll be face-to-face, we’ll go low-tech and focus on the framework and techniques using flip-chart paper and stickie notes. Andrea will also discuss how to get the most from the process across geographically distributed teams using online tools.


It’s now accepted wisdom that companies benefit from providing unified content experiences that allow users to easily access and navigate between different types of content. But organizational structures and the diversity of user needs and content types often make creating this experience daunting.

In this workshop, we’ll use ServiceNow’s journey toward a unified Customer Success Center to learn how to bridge organizations and create an experience that is unified while also maintaining the integrity of different content types and organizations.


Chatbots are becoming an increasingly popular delivery channel for many types of content, including customer support, marketing, and pre-sales. To make chatbots scalable, helpful, and smoothly integrated into the content ecosystem of your organization, you need to feed the chatbots with the right content prepared in the right way.

In this workshop, you’ll learn how to write content for chatbots in a way that lets the chatbots find the relevant content and precisely match it to the user’s request.

This workshop takes you through the process of developing a reuse strategy. We’ll analyze content, create a reuse matrix, and set priorities. We’ll make decisions about the 3 Gs—goals, granularity, and governance. And we’ll document everything.

Then we’ll go even deeper. Sharpen your pencils (or boot up your tablets) and prepare to put the principles into practice. We’ll work with text, images, and video to experience first-hand what it takes to optimize content for reuse.

Finally, we’ll develop a list of next steps that you can take back to your team.

At the end of the workshop, you’ll have hands-on experience developing a reuse strategy, along with the documentation to prove it. You’ll also have an action plan to help you move forward when you return to work.

12:00-5:00 Networking Lunch and Adobe Certification Workshop

NOTE: To take full advantage of the workshop, you may want to bring your own laptop and pre-install the new FrameMaker (2019 release). You can download a free and fully functional 30-day trial version here:
Adobe FrameMaker (2019 release) download
A good content strategy should be able to demonstrate how it can be used to speed up processes, reduce risk, and generate new revenue. Much of its success falls on planning and implementing your content strategy with the right how tools. This hands-on workshop will build a small and quick content strategy plan and demonstrate how to implement the core components (Information Architecture, Information Governance, Metadata and Taxonomy, Reuse, and Publishing) of a content strategy.


In this session, you will learn to:

• Develop key components of a content strategy
• Connect the implementation of the strategy with
• Improved workflows for creating, managing, and publishing content
• Reduction of risk in lack of compliance, inconsistency, missing information
• Generation of revenue through effective multi-channel content delivery
• Ask (and answer) questions related to tool selection
• Work hands-on with Adobe FrameMaker and DITA to create topics
• Publish the topics to PDF and online (HTML5) formats
• Implement an Adobe Experience Manager-based solution to ingest, manage, and publish content
• Discuss how and why a complete content strategy combined with the right tools can:
• Support a standard content model
• Ensure consistent content between teams
• Reliably create and manage content metadata
• Reuse materials effectively
• Publish content to multiple formats
Attendees gain a deeper understanding of how an organization can benefit from an effective content strategy and the right tools to publish better and publish smarter.

This workshop will help you to understand the challenges of creating high-quality DITA-based content and the related importance of reuse, style, terminology, and tone of voice. With a focus on creating DITA topics, Stefan Kreckwitz and Michael Mannhardt will provide a theoretical background on parameters with impact on quality in DITA. A live demonstration will build the bridge from theory to daily work. In this demo, it will be explained how Adobe FrameMaker authors can benefit from authoring assistance technology, providing real-time feedback during the content creation process.
Participants will learn about:
• Content quality, a challenge
• Ingredients of good quality content
• What to consider while writing good quality content in a DITA topic
• Existing content, a treasure – how to benefit by digging out with reuse
• Content creation in Adobe FrameMaker – how authors can get help and support to write high-quality content (LIVE DEMO)

NOTE: To take full advantage of the workshop, you may want to bring your own laptop and pre-install the new RoboHelp (2019 release). You can download a free and fully functional 30-day trial version here:
RoboHelp (2019 release) download

In late 2018, Adobe released an entirely new generation of Adobe RoboHelp – developed from scratch, starting with code line one. In this hands-on workshop, Stefan Gentz, Senior Worldwide TechComm Evangelist, Adobe, will introduce you to this new Help Authoring Tool generation and create the first project with you.

In this workshop you will:
• Get an introduction to the all-new user interface
• Learn how to configure RoboHelp 2019 for your needs
• Create a new project from scratch
• Create your first help topic with a proper structure
• Modify the default CSS3 stylesheet to your needs with the new visual CSS designer
• Edit the XML-based HTML5 in the all-new source code editor
• Learn how to work with snippets, variables, and conditional text
• And finally, publish your project to Responsive HTML5 and PDF


Virtual Reality (VR) is becoming a popular tool for telling stories, and now you have the chance to experience it firsthand! Join the Facebook AR/VR Experiences team for this exclusive workshop where you will learn the principles of immersive storytelling and build your own story in VR.

  • The 3 Ps (Planning, Preparing, Performing).
  • How to figure out the parameters of a presentation (audience, etc.).
  • How to focus your topic and limit your ideas.
  • How to build logical structure.
  • How to use hooks, anecdotes, and segues.
  • How to work with the audience.
  • Tips and tricks of rehearsing.

Join Andrea for a half-day, experiential tour of several techniques used in Design Thinking. Using one or more sample problems, workshop participants will work together to develop solutions following a Design Thinking framework. Because we’ll be face-to-face, we’ll go low-tech and focus on the framework and techniques using flip-chart paper and stickie notes. Andrea will also discuss how to get the most from the process across geographically distributed teams using online tools.

DITA is a great choice for writing technical documentation. Ideally, all contributors to a project should use it to provide content. But sometimes, subject matter (like developers and engineers) will prefer to provide content in another format. We will explore what possibilities arise when this other format is Markdown, a good match for structured authoring cases in which minimal markup is enough.

As a content strategist, the more skills you have in areas like analytics, interaction design, communications, product design, and research, the more you become an asset. Let’s face it though, you’re working enough and advocating for your role, so how do you do this effectively with limited time? You don’t have to be an expert in these areas. Let’s focus on a few skills that can elevate your discipline. Knowledge is most definitely power as a content strategist.

In this workshop you will learn:

  • How do cultural differences impact work communications and performance?
  • The keys to success in managing teams across time zones.
  • The key to effective introspection, and how fundamentally different it is from worrying.
  • What are the ways of being that, if fully engaged in, can ensure your team’s success?
  • How to invest in the whole person, not just needed skills.


Welcome Reception
Location: Skyline Room (23rd Floor)
Sponsored by Saiff Solutions

Monday's Schedule

Classic continental breakfast with Avocado Toast station (smashed avocado,  wheat and sourdough bread slices, sea salt, sliced tomatoes, sliced radishes)


Join us as Jack welcomes you to the start of the 2019 LavaCon Conference.

Ever wonder what it’s like to craft content and experiences for emerging technology? As screens become immersive and Virtual Reality headsets allow people to play with the feeling of “being there”, our role in content strategy is moving beyond words. As content strategists and technical writers, we plan and write content for web and mobile interfaces, but how do you write for online experiences when they’re not limited to a computer screen? In this new age of tech, our responsibilities are evolving from perfecting words to understanding how people navigate, interpret and engage with information in immersive and spatial experiences. Join Andrea Zeller and Nadine Anglin, content strategists on the AR/VR Experiences team at Facebook, as they take you on the journey of writing and storytelling for VR experiences.


Content strategy is, too often, tactical or applied best practice. A strategy should provide a solution to a problem by identifying obstacles and opportunities, outlining a guiding vision, and planning how an organization will achieve that vision. A content strategy simply does the same thing but uses content and content practices to achieve the goal.

In this session, Kathy breaks out the essential parts of good strategy and provides hands-on, practical advice for making sure your content strategy is strategic.

In this session, attendees will learn about the crowded landscape of voice assistant technologies, how they might fit into content delivery strategies in the future, and ways that they can start today to lay the groundwork for creating new and exciting content experiences for their users.

Key takeaways:

  • Structured content is great bot food!
  • Are you chatting with a human or a machine?
  • Small steps today that can deliver big results tomorrow – and you may already be doing them!

Join Richard Hendricks (Juniper Networks) as he shows you how to establish partnerships across departments and build aligned content that reinforces the same message, rather than tolerate fragmented content that frustrates your customers. Key examples include:

  • Developing example-based and solutions-based documentation with the help of Engineering, Solutions Test, and Sales Engineering
  • Reusing lab content for internal and external audiences
  • Establishing a bidirectional relationship with Training to improve both training and documentation deliverables
  • Building content partnerships to align information across several departments
  • Recognizing the power of video for GUI-based products

Join the docs team from Automation Anywhere as they recount their epic tale of battling ancient content delivery practices. Follow their year-long journey to assemble an allied team of heroes, establish intergalactic diplomacy, and build and deploy a modern portal experience. Will the team defy the dangers of status-quo content? Can they restore and protect the “infinity stones” of meaningful content strategy? Unite to witness their customer journey, and their continued struggle to deliver a harmonious experience to customers.

This presentation will provide the audience with the tools they need to perform a cost-benefit analysis and calculate the ROI of such a proposal. All attendees will receive an ROI calculator they can use to build their case and get the budget approval they need. Furthermore, we’ll discuss all the factors that you can take into account when making your case for new tools.

This presentation is intended for anyone who is interested in demonstrating value and building a case for changes within their department. This presentation is based on the implementation of structured authoring or content management tools, but the benefits provided are easily transferable to other change and budget scenarios.


Attendees will learn how we structured the taxonomy development project, the phases of a content audit and transformation project and how you must sell both to the business at the same time. You will hear how we phased the project, and how we sized the effort, sometimes unsuccessfully. We will explain the benefits, challenges, and lessons learned.

Has preparing customers for release day become an arduous task that no team at your company can conquer? Learn how two senior managers of technical writing at athenahealth took over this hot potato and baked it to perfection by bringing together the Technical Writing, Marketing, Communications, and Education teams to gather customer feedback, build relevant content, and produce release training that received rave reviews from customers and reduced support calls.

In this session, you’ll learn about the challenges and victories as we built a unified product content practice at an enterprise software company. We took a help documentation team, and from there grew the content practice to influence, drive, and unify content throughout the entire product ecosystem. Many times, it can be hard to know where to start. We’ll share the steps we took and the lessons learned as we reimagined our content practice.

In our high-technology world, the need for quality content is always growing. However, how that content is delivered or received is constantly evolving.

In this session, Mike Hamilton will introduce the concepts around microcontent and how it will impact traditional technical authoring. He will cover how the content that you author can support your existing publishing requirements (PDF, HTML5, eBook, etc.) and be made microcontent compatible at the same time. This will prepare your content for use as source material for featured snippets in search, automated chat feeds, bots, and other automated delivery techniques.

In this session, we will see a LIVE DEMO on how we can dramatically improve the review and collaboration experience for technical writers using Adobe Technical Communication Suite (2019 release) by leveraging Acrobat DC and FrameMaker.

Key takeaways:

  • Importance of timely and accurate feedback
  • Next generation of ONLINE review and collaboration
  • Acrobat DC based review workflows (DEMO)
  • ‘Magical’ integration between FrameMaker and Acrobat DC (DEMO)


Living Salad Bar with proteins (black sesame seed seared tofu, whole baked salmon with Piri Piri sauce, and roasted chicken with red pepper pesto)


One pain point continually rises to the top of my clients’ and colleagues’ list of challenges. It’s voiced in various ways, using many different words, but it always boils down to the same thing:

How do I get the
< recognition | promotion | respect | resources (tools, people, money, time) | appreciation | your favorite thing here >
that I/my team < deserve | need | want >?

It pulls our attention, time, and energy away from our real work: Making our companies and our customers wildly successful!

Well, what if it wasn’t true? What if it was simple? What if you have the agency to get everything that you and your team truly need? What if you could just be and succeed most of the time by practicing a handful of fundamental habits?

That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. Join me for a quick tour of the habits on which I, my corporate client teams, and my individual coaching students build our power and influence — both as individuals and organizations — an overview of my formula for adopting and integrating them for yourself.


S’mores (Graham crackers, assorted chocolate, and roasted marshmallows)


In this session, attendee’s will learn:

  • Why we need to focus more on management as a practice
  • Four core areas for management practice
  • How to incorporate servant leadership into your management practice
  • How to continually adjust your management practice as your group scales and your responsibility grows
  • How to avoid the strategy-execution gap

Products are sold into markets that cross both country and language boundaries, so product documentation must be localized. Localizing documentation is made easier with DITA, a capable Component Content Management System (CCMS), and a Translation Management System (TMS). Even with these systems in place, you must always consider best practices and pitfalls. Jim will begin with an overview of the localization process, of how content flows across systems and organizations. In this context, we will discuss techniques and also wins and pitfalls in automating and streamlining the localization process.


In this session, attendees will learn:

  • About the localization process—what are the various roles and how does content flow
  • About use cases and constraints—what is incremental localization and what is the relationship of localization to the product release lifecycle
  • About release management and localization—what role can branching play in localization
  • About localization tools—how do CCMS, TMS, and LSP relate in the localization process
  • About recent developments in automation—how can the localization process be accelerated through automation and what are the wins and pitfalls of automation

Attendees will learn about tools developed by Facebook’s in-house content strategy team, with examples to demonstrate how they’re applied by about 200 writers at the company.

Anyone who works in content knows it’s hard enough to get a team of writers aligned on applying the same voice. Writing with the same voice while adjusting tone compounds the challenge.

This talk shares strategies for how to guide writing teams in mapping content to a range of emotions and developing content that’s consistent and contextual.

Technical product content generally breaks down into 3 separate silos:

  •     Curated documentation and training
  •     Reactive support knowledgebase articles and technotes
  •     Crowd-sourced posts and discussions

But none of this matters to your audience. They just want answers. 

In this session, Joe Gelb will demonstrate how you can unify all three types of content to simplify the user experience and turn your content into a powerful source of measurable business value. He will share case studies of how technical content is orchestrated into personalized and immersive digital experiences that provide a single pane of glass – no matter where your audience goes to find product answers – and actionable business insights for your organization.

Attendees will learn how:

  • The extensive use of automation drives movement through the supply chain
  • Artificial Intelligence plays a practical role in content creation
  • Check points verify correct operation of the tools in the chain

Attendees will be able to apply what they’ve learned to any content supply chain.


The only constant is change: Your printed manual was good enough ten years ago. However, you know that it is no longer sufficient today. The way people share information about products and brands and interact with them has massively changed. All around the field of technical communication, digital experience innovations have raised the bar for customer expectations and demands. They expect the same quality of experiences for the delivery of technical content, its consumption,  communication. On the other hand, companies need comprehensive content success measurement solutions to develop content to success continuously.  Can your technical content live up to that?

In this presentation, Stefan Gentz, Senior Worldwide Evangelist for Technical Communication at Adobe, will discuss why providing technical documentation “digital” is just not enough. He will discuss why technical communication is marketing communication, and, most importantly, why technical communication needs to become part of the customer experience management.



Welcome to the LavaCon Storytelling Open Mic. Think along the lines of The Moth and StoryCorps.

Five minutes. One live microphone. Your stories.

Here’s how it works:

You show up and listen to great stories. If you want to tell a story, arrive early and add your name to the Storytelling Open Mic sign-up sheet.

The only ground rules:

  • Your story must be true.
  • Your story must be about you.
  • Your story can’t be a plug for anything.

We’ll get to as many stories as we can before the end of the evening.

Past tales have included marriage proposals, admissions of guilt, faces fallen flat upon, and great triumphs of will. It’s the whole human experience.

Join us. We want to hear your stories.



Tuesday's Schedule

Classic continental breakfast with frittatas (smoked salmon;  Pepper Jack cheese, mushrooms, and chives;  Italian sausage and mozzarella)

When you think about scaling content across regions, there’s a tendency to focus on translation and localization. But the way we search for and consume content has also changed – there are many other elements, including marketing channels, content design, user interfaces and end-customer experience, required to take into consideration. Join Sharon Austin, Director of Marketing Solutions at Amplexor, to explore:

  • How to map content that connects between writing, design and repurposing content through customer journeys from a global level
  • Content creation approaches to effectively engage audiences – regardless of country and culture
  • How to move global content and creative upstream to be part of the overall business plan


The Dell Technologies Education Services team moved to topic-based learning (train to what your learners need to do) with the agile framework. Topic based learning is so much more than just microlearning. Why did we do it and what did we learn? And HOW did we do it? Come by and find out! We’ll share how we changed our processes, how we changed minds, and the lessons we learned.

In this session, you will learn about what virtual reality encompasses, get a broad look at the landscape of virtual reality’s real-world applications, and then take a deep dive behind the scenes into the making of virtual reality experiences for education and training in the workplace. No preexisting familiarity with the topics covered is necessary. Anyone with interest in virtual reality, and the intersection between immersive technology, user experience, and training is welcome!

We talk about digital transformation, but what does that really mean? It’s not just moving from paper forms to web forms. We have the opportunity to connect information, data, and products into a seamless experience for our customers. That is the real potential of the information age, and we are so very unprepared to make this transition.

Is your technical documentation site from the dark ages? Do you have pages of links to volumes of reference content? Do your users give up trying to find anything of value and throw theirs hands up in despair? This described the user experience of the old Progress Software documentation portal.

Over the past year, Kristine Murphy and Margaret Collins have undertaken a journey to transform 30 years of reference content into a modern content platform. Using a DITA-based CMS and the Zoomin platform, they launched the Progress Information Hub, a highly-searchable site that offers content designed and delivered in a modern format. The persona-based structure offers Progress users access to content that teaches them how to do their job. The component-based content categories allow users to easily find and apply content to solve their business problems. Join Kristine and Margaret to learn about their trials and tribulations as they modernize their content.

Information consumers need a better content experience. There is an historical love-hate thing going on between DITA and Microsoft Word. There is great potential for a DITA architecture in technical AND non-technical departments, but non-technical departments need a different approach. Enterprise success requires a shared vision and commitment to better content with appropriate processes, tools, and management.

This session will highlight successful and unsuccessful efforts and processes to achieve happy content and happy humans on many levels.


Industry regularly talks about the ability to strategize across multiple teams and functions, but are people actually doing it? Until now, a unified cross-functional content strategy has all been theoretical. In this talk, hear how one company successfully implemented a unified content strategy across tech pubs, training, customer support, and marketing teams to create, single-source, reuse, and deliver content in multiple formats and for multiple audiences, with tech pubs leading the way.

“Storytelling” can be a rather exhausting buzzword. However, the fact of the matter is that with immersive technologies, like virtual and augmented reality, it is indeed of utmost importance. When someone is immersed in a virtual world of any type, the story is what keeps them engaged. With VR and AR, the user must be held at the center of the experience – clearly defining their role and letting them have an embodied sense of the arc. In this presentation, Nisha Burton will go beyond the ‘hero’s journey’ and explore hybrid storytelling techniques specific to this new digital medium. By the end, attendees will have the framework they need to tell great stories using immersive technologies.

Join Tahzoo’s Vice President of Content Strategy, Chris Hibbard, and DITA Strategies’ President, Amber Swope, as they explain how these two disciplines work together.

In this session, attendee’s will learn:

  • What content strategy is
  • What information architecture is
  • How to use them together to create a unified content framework based upon real business examples

Marie Kondo has taken the world by storm in showing us the joy in removing clutter from our homes. But there is joy to be found in clearing out the cluttered closets of content in our organizations. Too often we deal with content clutter when forced to, as when moving to a new system, supporting a new language, or converting to a new data format. This presentation will help you find the ongoing joy in removing clutter from your content.

In this session we’ll look at real-life examples of content being reviewed for possible deduplication and future reuse, and find some unexpected benefits as well as the expected ones. We will also consider some of the other things you can discover when examining your content for reusable elements that can help you improve your content for consistency and reuse purposes.


In this session, attendee’s will learn:

  • How to move forward on implementing a paradigm shift on content creation – even in the regulated pharmaceutical environment
  • About a success story of implementing Adaptive Content creation within a group and across groups inside an enterprise
  • About change management in terms of key milestones in the transformation journey
  • About content strategy and how it addresses the biggest content problems and starts the organization’s momentum to expand and optimize Adaptive Content
  • Some insights and perspectives from an author’s personal experience going through the change which can be used as a guiding tool for change leaders
  • Some use cases that illustrate content reuse across organizational groups

Attendees will learn how to create content for immersive technologies that actively capitalize on the unique, immersive and engaging nature to create the most impactful content for users. They will also learn fundamental content creation objectives, as well as more individual lesson-learned points about developing for immersive technologies.

Content distilled down to appropriate chunks of information in the form of intelligent microcontent take on a new life when they are made available to the enterprise for consumption and reintegration across different business functions. The silos all but disappear when content is rendered to microcontent that is classed, focused, structured, and contextualized. This microcontent then can flow freely across product, marketing, training, and support documentation. Attend to learn more about this transformational opportunity.

Within an organization, each department uses their own content tools and formats. How can they put them together into an interconnected web of knowledge that customers can navigate? We’ll discuss how an ontology can become a tool-independent knowledge model connecting department-level content. We’ll see how through the web of semantic relationships, customers can start, for example, from a troubleshooting procedure written by technical writers, continue to an instructional video created by trainers, and reach the best practices prepared by marketers.

Attendees will understand that reuse benefits do not come without a cost and that cost relates to the complexity created by managing the context for DITA. We will try to define what context means for DITA and understand the inevitable requirement to define formally a DITA project that should express all the deliverables we want to obtain, thus materializing the possible contexts.


Gourmet grilled cheese (bacon, tomatoes, guacamole) or black bean burgers (onions, vegan bread, tomatoes, guacamole) with tomato soup shooters


During this keynote, Megan Gilhooly will introduce the four pillars of effective personalization and how they transform how we think about content strategy to drive amazing digital experiences.

Noz Urbina has consulted and trained thousands of people on their content strategies, models, and processes. Across 19 years, 4 themes come up time and time again that hold back organisations and teams in their quest for content experience excellence. To jumpstart your mastery of these challenges, this session will give you an overview of how they manifest and how to overcome them.
You will learn:

  • To identify the main barriers to content excellence in your organization
  • Who else you can follow and learn from to prevent them from hampering your strategic ambitions in the future

About some examples from other organisations that have had success in the past


Almond Florentine cups with chocolate mousse and fresh berries

Chocolate table with chocolates (and more) from around the world, provided by attendees


Writing content for medical devices is exciting and fulfilling. However, it offers unique challenges that you don’t encounter when documenting software products.

Learn the basic differences between medical and commercial in this session. Find out if you can make the transition to content that may save lives!

With immersive tech, early adopters will hold a substantial advantage over those who wait to jump on board. Most consumers are bombarded with an average of 5,000 ads per day, so finding a way to stand out becomes a challenging task.

Immersive tech offers a unique solution. The user is surrounded by the content (VR) or experiences the content interactively in their physical world (AR), thus leading to higher levels of engagement and enjoyment—but that’s only if immersive tech is done right.

Salesforce has a rich collection of internal content. However, our developers face two key challenges using that content:

  1. How to quickly find the information they need so they can work efficiently
  2. How all of our internal services and infrastructure fit together

To address those challenges, we built an information portal and named it Port 80. It’s built around a simple content architecture.

Is your pubs team a bottleneck? Can the team transform from a set of complicated tool chains that prevent non-writers from contribution to a true service organization? In this world, the pubs team acts as a handmaiden to all sorts of content across the organization, including converged content straddling technical and marketing communications. Here, the Pubs team holds the true single-source-of-truth—the polestar guiding the overall design of the content system.

In this session, learn how your pubs team can become a shining star by using open source structured authoring tool. You can indeed set your content free!

This presentation is designed as an instructive and funny lesson on what not to do when implementing DITA within a documentation team. The original DITA Worst Practices filled the room at Lavacon 2017, and has proven to resonate with many DITA technical writers and managers who either saw it at Lavacon or in subsequent webinars. Since then, I have found new stories that will both entertain and horrify (from a DITA perspective) listeners. I hope that some of these stories will strike a chord with people who may find themselves in similar situations, and give them enough information to change course before they become a “worst practice” story themselves.


Good user experience is all about anticipating customer needs and avoiding customer pain points. In other words, act like you know your customers!

Developing good user personas helps you and your organization create useful content in a consistent voice and tone that resonates with your users.

Qordoba has been analyzing how content strategists work with style guides and implement better content check processes. In this session, May Habib will present results and trends from the Style Guides 2019 Benchmark Report and the 2019 State of Content Strategy Report.

Diversity is the root cause of much complexity in content operations.  It produces inefficiency, creates governance problems, and hinders the execution of strategy. Content teams are likely to encounter three distinct kinds of silos: stakeholder silos, content type silos, and tool silos. Operations become fragmented and complex because of the diversity of tasks and employee roles, the diversity of purposes for the content that’s being produced, and the diversity of applications and technical standards that are being utilized to support operations.

Many solutions to managing content operations don’t address the full range of diversity happening within large enterprises.  Content as a Service (CaaS) is an emerging paradigm that allows large-scale enterprises to overcome silos and achieve coherence across different functions in their organization.  Learn what CaaS is and the benefits it offers.

In a world where Google sets the gold standard for providing relevant search results, how can technical documentation teams create findability that is always spot-on for every single reader?

Relevance of search is determined by a combination of content metadata, contextual knowledge about the user, and the search query itself. The challenge, therefore, resides in collecting and analyzing these elements and applying them systematically to every search query to create truly personalized search results.

Avoid dumb delivery! You have made the investment and commitment to migrate your critical content to XML and DITA. Now, what do you do with it? One practical application is transforming and using this smart content with guided troubleshooting and diagnostics knowledge portals for call center and field service applications to give the best possible experience.


We made reservations for LavaCon attendees for dinner Tuesday night, after
the Chinese Dragon Parade, at:

Kelly’s Olympian Bar and Restaurant
426 SW Washington St. (four blocks from the Hilton)


Wednesday's Schedule

Breakfast Quesadillas (veggie; black bean, salsa, avocado and sausage;  bacon, Monterey Jack cheese, and onion)


During LavaCon this year, we’ve had the opportunity to hear from several speakers about AR/VR. Here’s your opportunity to play with some of the technology. We have 4 booths set up for you to experience AR/VR:

PTC: Experience some of the solutions that PTC clients have implemented in the service sector. Augmented Reality can bring value to your business in many areas. In the industrial enterprise, these use cases stand out with rapid ROI, easy adoption, and a meaningful way to stand out from your competition. Stop by and see to see PTC, at LavaCon, to experience first-hand, live demonstrations on AR Solutions for Service.  Reduce service costs and resolution times, while boosting first-time fix rates and customer satisfaction. Fortunately, AR-for-service use cases are easy to deploy. Discover the best use cases and preferred product features for executing a successful AR-for-service strategy.

Etteplan: As the Internet of Things and content optimization further mature, sensors enable connectivity to instructions in AR. During the lab, we’ll show you a chip that, when shaken, gives online troubleshooting instructions that can be published as AR.

Reflective Brands: Reflective Brands, a full service creative agency specializing in immersive technologies, will demo an interactive virtual reality bike ride they built to showcase a new master-planned housing development near Portland. This unique and engaging use of VR will be featured alongside multiple augmented reality demos showing a variety use cases designed to spark your creativity.

Torch3D: Torch makes it easy for anyone to design, build, and share augmented reality apps—with a unique mobile AR design environment and an end-to-end AR publishing platform. Experience the connection, the joy, and the immersive engagement that AR affords creative teams and brands, by getting hands-on with many examples of AR apps for e-commerce, immersive storytelling, business process improvement, marketing activations, and more. With Torch AR, free in the iOS Appstore (, any designer can build fully interactive AR apps in just minutes and share them around the world with Viewer Links. Come see how your team can unlock the power of AR, even if you’re not a tech company. *Bring an ARKit capable device to try these apps on your own iPhone or iPad (


Can’t get funding for your key content development strategic initiative?

The business case is an integral part of the planning and securing funds and resources for your initiatives. It becomes more important as the cost and complexity of the project increases.

Why is your proposal to proceed DEAD before it even gets off the ground? Perhaps it’s due to having a poor business case?

There’s a solution! In this session, Alexander will discuss an alternative way to obtain funding for your key content development strategy initiative.

Find out how many organizations are taking steps to deliver better information today and prepare their organization to more easily evolve with technology advances and consumer demands for tomorrow.

In this session attendees will learn:

  • What does the evolution of online delivery include?
  • How structured content impacts your future delivery options
  • Why you don’t have to wait to begin improving online delivery experiences for your users

Style guides serve an important role by establishing guidelines to improve communication, ensure consistency, and enforce best practices in composition, presentation, and language; and representing the specific needs of the business and its customers. Most organizations adopt one of the major manuals of style and develop an internal house style that further defines its voice, tone, and vocabulary. In this session, learn about all the different types of style guides so that when you’re asked whether you have a style guide, information model, or specification, you can relate!

  • In this session, attendee’s will learn:
    • Why technical communications departments are being called up more and more to lead the taxonomy charge
    • The taxonomy development trends being followed by industry leaders in technical communication
    • Top tips and tricks for making content more findable
    • How to prepare for taking over this important role.
    • The importance of taxonomies to emerging technologies

5 years ago, LavaCon brought you the most horrifying conference session of all time: “Content Horror Stories”. Ever since, others have tried to replicate the revulsion, but no one has succeeded. Until now! That’s right, from the mind of the original creator, we bring you; “Your Content Nightmare!” Join veteran content professional, the abominable Rhyne Armstrong, as he presents an all new spine-tingling tale of fatal failures, terrifying teamwork, and maniacal mismanagement. You’ll be inspired by the suffering of others, marvel at the iniquitous practices on display, and gaze in wonder as we discuss how to survive each nefarious nemesis.

Enter with trepidation, gaze into the pit of Gehenna, and egress with solace and enlightenment.


How many minutes or even hours does it take your new users to connect with the value in your product—to really feel the payoff of using it? And what should your content team be doing to drive that number lower?

I’ll share what I learned from leading a user onboarding initiative for TechSmith. You’ll come away with industry norms, customer preference data, and tips for developing a content program that quickly connects new users with the value in your product.

Subject matter experts (SMEs) take an active role in authoring and reviewing content within organizations. New responsibilities are emerging for content collaboration with experts and professional authoring teams. These extend SME roles of reviewing and updating content—pushing the horizons for new capabilities with structured authoring, reviews, and component content management.

The benefits of incorporating SME as authors are enormous, with new points for consideration with planning, preparation and governance. What strategy, planning, and support does your organization provide for SMEs? How can a technical authoring team benefit from working even closer with SMEs? From this presentation, you will learn about emerging best practices:

  • Defining a strategy and business benefits
  • Pointers for user experience design for SMEs
  • Managing concurrent author and review cycles
  • Extending CCMS capabilities and workflows
  • Governance and best practices

In this session, attendee’s will learn:

  • The benefits of creating a technical documentation portal, and why so many fail users
  • The four technical elements essential to building a “next generation” tech docs portal
  • The team, tools, and resources you’ll need to have in place to pull it all together
  • How this type of portal works and what it looks like, with real-life use case examples – How to transform the customer experience with a next generation tech docs portal

Is management requesting a return on investment on your CCMS? Regardless of whether you are just purchasing a CCMS or you have been using one for years, your management will ask you for the hard, cold facts…but you’re not an accountant! How do you show them the right data to prove that a CCMS is a good investment?

In this session, you will learn how to provide upper management with the data to support a CCMS implementation, including defining goals, setting requirements, implementing the system, and calculating the return on investment.

In use since 2002 by many industry leaders, HyperSTE is the leading checker software that ensures your content is clear, concise, and consistent, so it will have more impact with your audience while reducing documentation and translation costs.

During this session, we will show you how to make a case for a content quality implementation as part of your content strategy. We will share a number of customer success stories with metrics and provide an interactive demo.


“Don’t worry, the content person can handle that.”

How many times have you been asked to fill in lorem ipsum with actual content? Have you ever tried to fix an information architecture or code base problem with words?

It’s time to stop being the “content person” and start being a content experience designer. From initial design research to tracking down crucial user data, content experience designers can help product teams make more strategic decisions about what users want and need. We can discover existing mental models through design research. We can track down data like nerdy bloodhounds. We can pinpoint problematic nomenclature and identify potential solves. And we are more than capable of drawing boxes and arrows.

Learn how to break out of the “content person” silo with tactical tips and tricks for helping your teams make data-driven design decisions.

As odd as it may sound, technical content is the bread and butter of many of the special features Google offers within its results. These features, as well as prominent ranking on the results page, can be enormous drivers of traffic and are a serious opportunity for any site. The rules of the game are not hard, but failure to consider them means that other sites are stealing the traffic that should be yours. Wins aren’t as complicated as you think, all you need is: 

  • A foundation in which of Google’s special features apply to technical content & what gets you into them
  • A bit of an understanding on how Google relies on machine learning (nothing too complicated – really)
  • A quick bit of research into what users want from your technical content
  • A touch of insight into what Google thinks users want from your content

In 2009, when my child was two, I suddenly became a TechComm manager again. During the past 10 years, I’ve thought many times that managing a TechComm team was just like being a parent. I’m using the same negotiation, leadership, and sometimes counseling skills for these two areas of my life. I want to share these similarities with you.

You will *not* learn about how to become a parent.

In this interactive talk, we will:

  • Learn about a narrow yet comprehensive set of well-known and empirically tested information quality dimensions that cover all categories of quality: Intrinsic, Representational, Contextual, and Accessibility
  • Find out how readers rate these dimensions as they relate to documentation quality
  • Create, based on this, a measurable, unambiguous, and reader-oriented definition of documentation quality
  • Get some clear, research-based takeaways that we can use to:
    • Collect meaningful and actionable feedback
    • Help writers understand what is important to readers
    • Provide reliable methods and metrics for measuring documentation quality
    • Create a common documentation quality terminology

Let’s face it: the reality of component authoring often falls short of the lofty promises that surround it. When components don’t flow freely through the entire content lifecycle, they bottleneck at crucial stages like reviews and translations, which happens when we need input from others who lack the skills or the tools to truly work with components in real-time. In this session, we’ll show you how you can implement a trueend-to-end component-based content lifecycle with real-time reviewing, and finally deliver on the real potential of component authoring.


Closing Panel Discussion: The Future of Content

  • Lisa Peyton, Immersive Strategist, Intel (Moderator)
  • Jill Knight, 3D Designer, Deloitte Digital
  • Bryan Rhoads, Senior Consultant, Filter
  • Sean Lane, Principal, Technology,
  • Stefan Gentz,  Senior Worldwide Evangelist, Technical Communication, Adobe
  • Meridel Walkington, Senior Content Strategist, Firefox UX, Mozilla Corporation


Augmented and Virtual Reality are poised to change how we interact with each other and our environment, including how we create, access, and use content. The success of these technologies depend on the quality of both the content itself and the underlying infrastructure that allows the content to appear, when, where, and in the format that the user requires. To be prepared, content and localization teams need new skills and strategies. Or, do they?

Join us for a workshop where we will take a deep dive into some strategic questions around augmented and virtual reality, and identify some trends and effective practices for developing AR/VR content.


  •             To identify ways that technical communicators can take a leadership role in AR/VR projects.
  •             To identify skill sets managers should be hiring for or training.
  •             To define some preliminary guidelines for creating AR/VR content strategies, information architectures, etc.

What we will do:

  • Panel Discussion to set the stage and introduce the workshop leaders
  • Small groups to discuss aspects of AR/VR. You will rotate through each topic group.
  • Exercises to get you thinking about how and when to incorporate AR/VR into your content strategy
  • Discussion about barriers to entry, skills, best practices and other topics you identify during the workshop

Grab and Go salads:

  • Grilled chicken Cobb salad (Butter Lettuce, Diced Grilled Chicken, Tomatoes, Bacon Bits with avocado cucumber dressing
  • Fall mixed salad (Mixed Garden Greens, Sliced Almonds, Mandarin Orange with citrus vinaigrette)

The relationship between marketing and UX writers is, well, complicated. A content playbook is a critical tool for these teams to reduce friction and improve alignment. This workshop will cover what content playbooks are and how they’re used, show real-life examples from consumer and enterprise solutions, and offer hands-on experience crafting joint value prop messaging and writing user flows. You’ll walk away with templates you can use now to deliver consistent content from the promise to the payoff.

The Internet of Things, automation, chatbots, augmented and virtual reality, machine translation, among other innovations, are driving companies to develop content that is easily digestible by both humans and machines. To accomplish this feat, we need to incorporate controlled language and terminology management into our content strategies and information architectures. Implementing controlled language should be a strategic, multidisciplinary decision that is based on a holistic analysis of your terminology and content creation efforts.

The key to great design and great content is empathy. Not sure you’ve got any? No problem! I’ll show you how you can use design thinking as a framework to travel from knowing who your audience is to understanding what motivates them, and finally, to designing an information experience that meets their needs.

TXTOmedia transforms written topics, instructions and procedures into dynamic media, such as how-to videos, sliders, interactive product models and content for AR and VR, which are automated, on-the-fly, and at scale.

During this workshop, we will turn your documentation into video! You bring us your topic, even in various languages, and we deliver the videos to you! How cool is that?

We ask you to register in advance and send us your sample upfront so that we can prepare your content in digital format.

Learn how a modular approach to content creation, storage, and delivery, gives you a single source of truth for your content and how that source can meet all of your content delivery requirements whether they are technical, marketing, or operational.

In this hands-on workshop, we will cover the basic principles from the canons of page design. We’ll talk about “ugly” complaints, so you know which are tool-related, which are cost-related, and which are truly hard problems.

And then you will take the driver’s seat.

Yes, that is correct. You will be the one creating the content and a variety of output formats typically demanded for most of us in technical or marketing communications.

What you will be creating: an eBook with two unique cover designs, HMTL for the corporate website, a FAQ, a product brochure, and a marketing advertising page or splash page. We’ll provide the tools and resources but space is limited, so reserve your seat!!

We’ll tackle some pretty interesting requirements so come prepared to get your hands dirty! This is an unprecedented workshop and should be EPIC!


#Immersive (for AR/VR)
#GroundKontrol (bar and video game arcade)