Hosted in the reportedly sunny city of Orlando, Florida, (I didn’t see any sun, but I’ve been told it’s there) this year’s conference we had a terrific time learning and interacting with some great writers and information architects. This year’s conference happened to be my first, and throughout the week I noticed a few themes regularly arise in conversation. Here are a few of my takeaways from conversations at the conference.
“DITA. Am I saying that right?” (/ˈdItə/)
For many attendees, this was the year of DITA. Many came to our booth looking for a deeper explanation of what DITA is and why it matters. Nearly everyone who stopped by the easyDITA booth left with a copy of our most popular brochure, “What is DITA?” (You can download a copy here!) For many authors, it seemed that DITA had quickly moved from a fringe option to the primary consideration and they felt the pressure to understand – quickly.
We even received questions from writers who didn’t expect their business to move to a DITA-based system. These forward-thinkers realized that having DITA familiarity on their resume provides a significant advantage in the job market. Our research shows that adding DITA-knowledge to your resume can result in a 20% bump in pay.
Who’s Reading This?
Let’s talk about empathy. Maybe it was just because I hadn’t attended an event before or maybe this idea is getting renewed attention, but many writers with whom I spoke mentioned an intentionality around the importance of understanding their readers better. Obviously, this principle is nothing new. However, the frequency with which it came up indicated to me that writers are serious about gaining a better understanding of readers’ current state of mind. It also revealed that some writers had questions about HOW to better understand their readership. Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes is hard enough, it’s nearly impossible when you don’t have a good understanding of whose shoes you’re supposed to wear.
A Little of This, a Little of That…
Another frequent theme I found in conversing with writers was the prevalence of multiple systems duct-taped together for a solution. As one author put it “A little of this, a little of that. You do what works.” With some exasperation, many authors mentioned a desire to escape their current software patchwork and find a more cohesive system that could meet their evolving documentation requirements.
If you’ve been online at any point in the last five years, you know that chatbots are here to stay. However, you also know that society is still learning about where and how they best fit into the internet of things. Perhaps attendees were prompted by the giant robot mascot printed on our company banner, but many confessed trying to wrap their mind around chatbots and what chatbots meant for their industry. I reassured these writers that they are not alone; we’re working to develop resources and guides to show writers how they can leverage their existing content through the dynamic delivery of chatbots.
If you attended the STC Summit, we’d love to hear your thoughts as well! What were your favorite moments of the conference? What would you like to see in the future? Let us know your thoughts and we hope to see you at the next one.