soap! 2016: Foamy Notebook

Now, we know Foamy the Squirrel is not the nicest pet… And he does not really like humans either.

But he does like foam, and that’s what soap’s all about.

So, he squeezed his grudgy squirrel self into pink and took off for soap! in Krakow.

He tried to make sense of all the techcomm talks he attended, and here’s his most memorable impressions.

Buckle up – it’s gonna be a Foamy ride!

Related posts

German grandmas don’t get turned on by beauty contest winners

They just don’t. Imagine that.

But who knew?

In the best traditions of ‘sexy content’, eager Hungarians threw lots of cash on shooting that chick from all possible angles. Nice people on billboards attract other nice people into the country, right? Hopefully, nice people with a lot of money.

Only the thing is, the main money bringers for Hungary are – surpriiiise – too brittle too late. Forgive my sarcasm. But really, we’re talking about older German ladies. Direct opposite of the intended target audience of young men with an eye for sensual beauty.

So, we always try to make our content attractive. Attractive for ourselves. While the target audience may have completely opposite artistic tastes…

Ah, but never mind that one failed marketing campaign. Road to success is easy. Shape your yoghurt bottle like Starbucks cup and live off the subconscious brand engraved on the inside of people’s brains. Just be careful not to get too deep – who knows what goes around now in the subconscious of those old German ladies.

Author: Lesia Zasadna. Inspired by Luca Bertocci, Garrison Group: Human Centric Product Development

Steal like a pro

Imagine adding a new skill to your Linkedin profile that says ‘Copypasting’. You can be pretty sure how people would react to that – oh no, you can’t do THAT, that’s stealing. Actually, we need to rethink our attitude towards using external ideas. Why? It is tough to keep producing original ideas from scratch all the time. Go ahead and ask anyone working in the creative sphere if all of their ideas are 100% copypaste-free. Most probably, they’re not, and that’s OK.

As Steven Wright puts it, “To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism; to steal from many is research.” So go and do your research.

P.S. This was inspired by the story of how Danone managed to increase Activia sales by reusing the design of Starbucks cups:)

P.P.S. There’s actually a whole book about stealing ideas by Austin Kleon.

Author: Iryna Sushko. Inspired by Luca Bertocci, Garrison Group: Human Centric Product Development

Same time, same location every day

Ian is a kind of SCRUM master I would not dare to object to.

So, what actually makes a perfect SCRUM soup (oops, sorry) team? Kasia’s recipe is:

  1. Take a spoonful of cross-functionality, add self-organization and team respect.
  2. Add strong collaboration and effective communication, stirring regularly.
  3. Add frequent transfer of knowledge.
  4. Heat it till the team achieves a shared goal.

Cooking time: a sprint.

Author: Oksana Sukh. Inspired by Kasia Kolodziej, JAMF Software: Working with Technical Writers in an Agile Team

Don’t get tempted to play Captain Obvious

When working in Agile, there is this practice of sharing your status with the team. A common trouble here is that we usually say that “I was writing the User Manual, duh”. This does not really mean anything to the rest of your team. So don’t just say that you wrote this or that piece of documentation. Instead, also tell how this document will support the users – this way, the team will get a better understanding of the value of your job.

Author: Iryna Sushko. Inspired by Kasia Kolodziej, JAMF Software: Working with Technical Writers in an Agile Team

Dickens is your enemy

Without any training in technical communication or just writing as such, most people tend to write docs in a linear fashion and with proper enthusiasm, might end up with 300-page documents that ask for a long winter and a cozy fireplace to get through. Imagine how much money your company would need to spend if we were talking about a 300-page internal document that must be read by every programmer before joining a project.

As technical communicators, we go modular instead of linear to make the docs accessible and easy to work with. If you come across a document that can be easily labelled as ‘Dickensonian’, you know what to do.

Author: Iryna Sushko. Inspired by Anton Kolesnyk, Plarium: What the Hell is GDD???

Sometimes user support cares. Haha. No, really

Prepare to renounce all of your sarcastic jokes about that cliche of ‘your call is very important to us.’ Because we’ve seen a walking tribute to everything that user support should be – quick to react, polite, patient, informative, pleasant to communicate with… Makes your hands itch to crash the prototype on purpose and see how they miraculously swoop in and try to help with a solution. And then nag their management about extra budget for enhancing user experience. 

Heart of gold and guts of steel. I bow to you! You talk was very important to us. 🙂

Author: Lesia Zasadna. Inspired by Magdalena Olszewska, UXPin: Endless Odyssey: Far beyond Customer Service

As if by magic

Ha! Tricked you!

Rule #1: Nothing works unless you turn on your creativity. According to Lukasz, creativity requires lots of passion and commitment. Go and explore, study your audience, understand it.

Rule #2: Think about your content as a type of reward for the person who views it.

Author: Oksana Sukh. Inspired by Lukasz Greda, Admind Creative Agency: Content Doesn’t Make Content Better

We’re in the skin care business

‘No one reads the docs’, they say. But take a look at someone who is struggling with the software and notice that one deep wrinkle between their eyebrows. Good docs remove that wrinkle. That’s why it’s ‘skin care business’ – a whole new way to think about our job, right?

Author: Iryna Sushko. Inspired by Lesia Zasadna, ELEKS: A Story of One Brand Book

To flush or to polish a content turd?

Finally an issue to the internal dilemma of every techcommer about which is an easier way to fix crappy content: edit it until you’re brown in the face or start over from scratch.

And the simple answer is: it doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is verifying that the content was written with the target audience in mind. The real target audience, mind you, not the one from our fantasies. Just how it’s done – well you got to attend those guys’ workshop – because practicing is believing.

Author: Lesia Zasadna. Inspired by Travis Gertz, Louder Than Ten: Design Machines: How to Survive the Digital Apocalypse

User experience is everyone’s responsibility

Anna states you should go beyond: actually meeting end users, learning to understand them, collecting data, and rating the experience. Try out her “Buddy route” and see the software usage process with your own eyes.

Author: Oksana Sukh. Inspired by Anna Miedzianowska, Ocado Technology: Product Owner Meets the Users

 The bigger the better?

Curious how all your work can go down the drain if you deviate from a tender balance of article size and accessibility. The breach of balance comes in two varieties:

  • Your article is neat and small, and information in it is easily accessible. But it’s just as well because there’s nothing to access: the needed info is not there. Either because the info seemed too obvious. Or, because you never thought that the audience may come to need such info at all.
  • You mentioned all the info, down to tiniest details, and now your article is really big. The needed info is there but buried too deep.

It’s important to stay somewhere in the middle. Size matters but so does accessibility.

Author: Lesia Zasadna. Inspired by Patrick Bosek, easyDITA: Taking a Step Back – A short reflection on Managing Content, Technical Communication, and why we spend our time doing it

All those lessons above Foamy the Squirrel learned for life.

But he also learned that the best techcomm tips are shared during networking at TEA Time. From shaking off cantankerous editors to helping find the right cardiac massage rhythm.

Staying alive and looking forward to soap! 2017.
Did we mention the best part? TEA stands for Traditional English Ale. Cheers!


2 thoughts on “soap! 2016: Foamy Notebook

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