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My Upcoming Presentations at User Assistance Europe in Manchester, England

Dec 8, 2012 • general

User Assistance Europe ConferenceThis year I'll be traveling to Manchester, England to the User Assistance Europe conference there and presenting the following:

Make Your Content More Findable When Users Browse and Search

Users tend to search help material when they have a specific question they're looking to answer. In contrast, users tend to browse help material when they don't know exactly what they're looking for. Browsing often leads to better searching, and more searches often lead to better browsing, since the two activities inform each other. How can you make your content easier to find when users either search or browse for information? Answers to this question can span a range of best practices, from understanding search algorithms to including the right metadata, grouping similar topics together, adding related content, and more.

In this session, you will learn:

  • Why searches often fail in help material
  • How to avoid overwhelming users with too many options
  • Why help material often doesn't include the answers users need
  • Tips for organizing content based on principles of information architecture
  •  How to more closely integrate search and browsing activities

Creating Video Tutorials for User Assistance

Next to Google, Youtube is the second most popular search engine on the web. The popularity of video, especially for how-to scenarios, suggests that it should play a more prominent role in user assistance. However, creating videos poses a number of challenges. Writing a conversational script, recording professional sound, showing crisp screen images, and integrating video into your online help can be tricky. Additionally, in agile environments, video tutorials often have a short shelf-life -- remaining current only until the next release. When you create videos, therefore, you have to create them inexpensively and quickly. At the same time, you must maintain a high quality for the visual display and sound.

In this session, you will learn:

  • How to set up a microphone and recording equipment.
  • How to write a conversational script that will work well in a three-minute video.
  • How to get professional sounding voice without hiring a voiceover pro.
  • How to incorporate learning techniques to increase the effectiveness of the videos.
  • How to integrate video into user assistance in a way that complements written help.

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About Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

I'm a technical writer based in the California San Francisco Bay area. In this blog, I write about topics related to technical communication — Swagger, agile, trends, learning, plain language, quick reference guides, tech comm careers, academics, and more. I'm interested in , API documentation, visual communication, information architecture and findability, and more. If you're a technical writer of any kind (progressional, transitioning, student), be sure to subscribe to email updates using the form above. You can learn more about me here. You can also contact me with questions.