This year Joe Welinske from Welinske & Associates hosted the two-day conference, “WritersUA” in cooperation with the Dept. of English at NC State University. For over twenty-five years, Joe Welinske has been working with clients to improve their software user experience. Welinske and Associates has been providing quality educational events since 1993. The WritersUA conference series is focussed broadly toward the development of digital content and services and user assistance and is a top gathering for technical communicators and software user assistance professionals. WritersUA rotates throughout the United States. The conference took place from October 4 to October 5, 2018 at the NC State University’s campus. The event was managed by Joe along with Dr. Huiling Ding, Director of the Masters in Technical Communication Program at NC State, faculty and student volunteers.

WritersUA premieres on East Coast with 100+ technical communicators

  • Dates: October 4-5, 2018
  • Venue: Caldwell Lounge, Tompkins Hall, NC State University
  • Talks: 25+ presentations, 3 tracks, multiple networking events
  • Hosted by: Welinske & Associates in cooperation with North Carolina State University English Department

The event was well attended by over 100 technical communicators from all across the United States with some international participants as well. Due to North Carolina State University’s easily accessible location, at the heart of the State’s Research Triangle Park, many attendees from the RTP area and STC-Carolina members could attend the event. Technical writers from companies like IBM, Extreme Networks, SAS, Clickstart, Publishing Smarter, Red Hat, Empowered, Oracle, nCino, WebAssign, Cisco, Scriptorium, and more participated in the event. Academicians from the North Carolina State University, East Carolina University, Washtenaw Community College and University of Washington also attended the conference.

Both single and multiple track sessions took place throughout the conference. Multiple track sessions were divided by the following themes:

This track consisted of talks on content development, content management and content strategy. Everett McKay discussed how modern user assistance should focus more on delivering value than explaining confusing, unintuitive UI and shared some design evaluation techniques and guidelines to do so. He also provided Lighthouse examples to guide through the lessons. Huiling Ding and Yingying Tang shared recommendations about creating an effective global strategy for international institutions and universities based on their research that covered usability testing, challenges in UX and considerations of working in global environments. Anna McHugh also discussed content strategy, but using metadata. Bruce Gibbs shifted the focus by discussing the art of digital marketing for creating digital marketing campaign. Michelle Corbin talked about another important aspect of content – ‘editing’, not just for just text, but for design and documentation development processes too. Jen Carter discussed the issue of writing effective content with the right voice and tone, and Joe Welinske discussed the issue of accessibility.

These sessions were conducted by professionals with extensive industrial experience.  Bernard Aschwanden brought forth the blend between marketing content and technical communication. Christina Mayr discussed information architecture and how it looks for technical documentation. Guiseppe Getto focussed on content strategy and UX with respect to SEO and Content Auditing. Technical writers are becoming more involved in SDLC. Katie Jones discussed ways in which Technical Writers can influence product creation and adoption.

Various tools and technologies used by technical communicators were discussed throughout the conference. Some in the form of talks and others in the form of workshops. Joe Welinske, Scott DeLoach, Guiseppe Getto, Bernard Aschwanden, Shane Taylor and Nate Wolf conducted workshops on DITA, Madcap Flare, Framemaker, CSS and other content authoring platforms. Bernard Aschwanden conducted a session on future proof content and Jake Campbell gave a talk on structured authoring.

Dr. Walls, Assistant Professor in the Department of English at North Carolina State University, gave a talk on UX work in order to solve the unique challenges in social justice contexts. Joe Welinske shared his thoughts about the future of technical communication and user assistance and opened the stage for the audience to share their thoughts on the topic.

Different networking events took place during the conference. Attendees networked during lunch on both days. Meet and Greet and Socials took place before and after the conference the Aloft hotel.

The Caldwell Lounge on the NC State’s campus proved to be an apt location for the conference with its spacious and comfortable seating. The well equipped classrooms provided adequate infrastructure for concurrent talks and workshops.

Overall, the conference was a big success for the organizers as well as the attendees. WritersUA is a great conference for technical communicators working in the industry. With a good mix of small and large organizations participating in the conference, it is a great place to meet professionals with all types of expertise and great ideas. We look forward to WritersUA 2019. For updates, keep a watch on the WritersUA website.

Recap submitted by Nupoor Jalindre.

Nupoor Jalindre

Nupoor Jalindre

PhD Student

Communication Rhetoric and Digital Media, NC State University

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