Yet another year has come and gone. This year, I have seen the rise of the term UX writer, chatbots making an appearance in the most interesting of places, and Markdown becoming the favourite tool for many writers.
My professional journey was slightly different to the last one I blogged about, but it was still a step further in more ways than one.
Here’s a summary of my career in 2017 (in no particular order)
Turning non-believers into believers
Last year, I blogged about how hard it was to turn some non-believers (in documentation) into people who appreciate what we (as tech writers) do, so this year, we took it upon ourselves (my team and I) by putting things into action. Instead of simply talking about it, we took it upon ourselves to prototype, test and demonstrate.
At work, we had operated as a Word/PDF and Sharepoint shop, but we brought in Confluence, Trello and JIRA into our mix of content tools and made an immediate impact on the way our teams accessed and used our content. Having a responsive, always relevant and device-independent tool translated to instant productivity gains. The teams were reviewing content faster, the content was easy to access, use, share, and the information experience was wholesome.
I’ve not been entirely petrified of public speaking in the past, but I was always wary of not being able to say something that would be of relevance to others. I was clearly wrong. There are plenty of meetups and conferences out there who want to hear your story and perspectives. There are people in similar predicaments who are eager to hear how you solved a particular issue.
Working with Write the Docs gave me an excellent opportunity to not only speak publicly, it also helped me hone my organisational and networking skills. Over the past year, I have spoken to many attendees and potential speakers and sponsors.
I also presented my experiences in documenting a product I use, at the ASTC conference. Presenting for the first time for well over 40 minutes has now given me enough confidence in speaking publicly, that I can carry into 2018 and beyond.
Write the Docs Australia
What started off on a good footing in 2016, we managed to build a strong community Down Under.
The Write the Docs Australia meetups now run regularly every couple of months across Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney. We have had our first remote session recently and it was very well received by the people who attended.
Having the confidence in the Write the Docs Australia members, I decided to host a one day event with help from members of the community. We hosted our first Write the Docs Day Australia in November and it was attended by about 45 people.
Here is a recap of the event: http://www.writethedocs.org/conf/au/2017/news/event-recap-feedback/
I was exposed to a few tools I hadn’t used before, and I feel this added lots to my skills (and adaptability at using them).
Working on Write the Docs Day event, I was exposed to tools such as Github, Atom editor and Markdown in greater detail. The whole experience of updating website content via Markdown and Pull Requests was fun and challenging.
With some free time between projects, I started reading up and learning to add to my skills. I’ve travelled a fair bit on the API documentation path via Tom Johnson’s blog and also courses on Udemy.
In addition to this, Content Strategy and Information Architecture are 2 other skill areas that I am brushing up on coming towards the end of the year. Volunteering for the Content Strategy Forum last year gave me a good insight into the world of Content Strategy and it is an area I am keen on expanding into.
Wishlist for 2018
Chatbots – I would relish the opportunity to document chatbots. Chatbots are taking over a number of areas and it would be interesting to work on projects that incorporate clear, concise content with the bot mechanism.
Learn a programming language – While I’ve had some background in learning programming in the late 90s, so much has changed that I almost feel the need for a refresher. I’d like to start with something simple, something that allows me to automate tasks and work more effectively.
Remote work – I currently work remotely (part-time) on a technical writing project. It has been a great experience working with this team for the last 2.5 years. I’d like to work on more remote projects and build my expertise working on a wide range of content.