5 Talks from Write the Docs 2023 We're Still Talking About

By The Good Words Team

July 31, 2023

At Good Words, we are passionate about fostering growth and learning within the documentation community. That’s why we are excited to bring you our key takeaways and insights from the highly anticipated Write the Docs Portland 2023 conference. Every year, this gathering of programmers, tech writers, support teams, designers, and developer advocates provides a unique opportunity to explore and celebrate the art and science of documentation.

Our Chief Operations Officer, Lauren Gniazdowski, had the pleasure of attending the conference held in the vibrant city of Portland, Oregon. After listening to engaging sessions and participating in meaningful discussions with documentarians, she returned with a fresh perspective to share with our team members and clients. So, what talks stood out to her?  

1. Trauma-Informed Documentation: Taking Empathy and Inclusive Language to the Next Level 

Ashleigh Rentz, Senior Technical Writer, explains that inclusive language is often misunderstood as a list of rules to memorize to avoid offending anyone. The talk reminds us that trauma is complex and the words we choose genuinely matter. To advocate correctly, Ashleigh recommends practicing inclusive language every day at work and at home. 

2. Navigating the Future of Technical Writing in a Rapidly Evolving Tech Landscape 

Scott Truelove, Senior Technical Writer, presents arguments and evidence on why AI will never fully replace technical writers. The talk explores some of the current limitations of AI, such as quality and plagiarism concerns, and how you can maintain a human touch.

3. Myths, Mistakes, and Missed Opportunities 

Linda Ikechukwu, Frontend Technical Writer, shares important lessons gleaned from technical writers after interviewing them for a Tech Content Creator Series. These lessons include best practices for interviewing, tips for freelancing, transitioning to other careers or management, and working with leaders who do not understand the value of technical writing.

4. Is It Layer Cake: Thinking in Content Levels

Ryan Young, Technical Writer, reveals how Stripe developed a user-first framework to develop new content and assess and revise existing content. The talk encourages the Write the Docs community to consider what users need. The framework ensures people are not landing on the wrong type of content, know where they are, and accomplish their goals.

5. Winning Over Coworkers, Collaborators, and Customers to a New Knowledge Experience 

Jennifer Swallow, Senior Technical Content Manager, highlights how to win and sustain the support of executives for a new documentation project. This talk is based on a real-life scenario at Splunk to improve product adoption and retention rates and to stop gatekeeping expert knowledge. Jennifer educates attendees on how to build up internal support.