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 Preliminary 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 (breakfast on your own)

8:30-Noon

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.

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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.

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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.

1:00-5:00

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.

8:30-9:40

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.

9:45-10:45

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.

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.

11:00-12:00

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, attendee’s will learn about the crowded landscape of voice assistant technologies, and how they might fit into content delivery strategies in the future.

12:00-2:00

Menus will be announced at a later date.

Menus will be announced at a later date.

2:30-3:30

3:45-4:45

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

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

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.

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.

5:00-5:40

5:15-6:00

8:00-

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

Registration and continental breakfast with protein options will be served opposite the Grand Ballroom.

8:30-9:30

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 learned? And HOW did we do it? Come on by and find out! We’ll share how we changed our processes, how we changed minds, and the lessons we learned.

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.

9:45-10:45

To advance a strategy, you must first win management’s support for it. At a previous LavaCon conference, Noz Urbina presented his castle storming theory, which describes how to succeed in content strategy by approaching your organization like a maze-like castle, with a moat, some traps, and maybe a dragon. Then Technical Writer Britt Ellmer took up the challenge. Now she’s 3.5 years into managing her own transformative, growing content strategy program. Join Noz and Britt for a real-world case study, where you’ll learn to storm your castle.

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

11:00-12:00

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.

Join Tahzoo’s Vice President of Digital Strategy & Analytics, Darrell Cypress, 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

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.

12:00-1:45

2:00-3:00

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 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.

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.

3:15-4:15

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.

4:30-5:30

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.

In this session you will learn:

  • What skills are required to create effective corporate videos?
  • How long will your current team require to learn these skills?
  • What are the key processes that can ensure success?
  • Why do these elements matter?:

    • Script
    • Brand book
    • Proven Process

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 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.

6:00-

8:30-9:30

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.

UX writing and rapping share similar characteristics. Learn what these are during this engaging session.

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

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

9:45-10:45

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:

  • How to write meaningful content while still ensuring your content is structured for SEO algorithms
  • How AI can be used to compliment journalism and content, not take it over
  • What platforms will help you manage your content strategy
  • How to position content in the mar-tech stack within your organization

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.

11:00-12:20

12:20-1:00

1:00-4:00

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, and 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.

Just because there’s no business case for pretty, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t apply good design techniques that promote comprehension. How can we respond to the cry, “user focus,” when we’re hiding from design problems? We’re tired of being told to compromise, and we shouldn’t have to for the sake of some tool. In this workshop, we’ll look at the canons of page design, the most common complaints about DITA output, and one tool that is applying UX research to solve it.

8:00-