Certificate Courses

All certificate courses are two days, 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM on Saturday and Sunday, 17–18 May.

Content Design Certificate Course

This course consists of the following sessions:

Structured Authoring and DITA, presented by Joe Welinske
Structured authoring has become one of the most popular ways of developing content. The main focus is on separating the data (words, images, links, etc.) from presentation (typeface, margins, color, etc.). This type of authoring is increasingly used in all manner of organizations. Structured authoring as a framework is the basis of today’s content management systems. The open-source standard, DITA, is a form of structured authoring designed specifically for documentation. DITA (Darwin Information Typing Architecture) is often referenced as a skill area in job postings for technical writers. Many authoring tools support the use of DITA.

Content Engineering: A Practical Introduction, presented by Joe Gollner
While the idea has been in circulation for almost 20 years, recently there is a noticeable uptake in interest being expressed in the discipline of Content Engineering. Defined simply, Content Engineering is the application of engineering discipline to the design, acquisition, delivery, management, and use of content, and to the technologies deployed to support the full content lifecycle.

Immediately, it stands out that Content Engineering firstly focuses on the design of the content itself and then it approaches the use of technology from a pragmatic and holistic perspective. Essentially, Content Engineering is how leading organizations have begun to approach their high-value content resources and this makes it a discipline that merits further exploration by everyone working in the field of Technical Communication.

Topics to be covered include the definition of a compelling content strategy, the modeling and validation of content and content processes, the implementation the technical infrastructure needed to support the full content lifecycle, and, perhaps most importantly, the deployment and leveraging of an engagement cycle whereby the needs of users and stakeholders are fed back into the content lifecycle.

This workshop will equip attendees with an essential roadmap for understanding the landscape of new tools and techniques that are available to organizations implementing state-of-the-art content management and publishing environments. This workshop will be particularly helpful for those who have been working in the field of Technical Communication for some time and have only recently had to deal with the question of how they, and their organizations, will effectively adopt and apply new content technologies and techniques as part of a modernization investment. In this workshop, these attendees will encounter the many buzzwords and acronyms that they hear being thrown around and they will encounter them in context so that they will be fully understandable.

Content Experience Modeling: Designing Customer Value and Consistency, presented by Andrea L. Ames
Are you working with many products, large content sets, many audiences, or broad business requirements? Are you finding it difficult to create a content experience to your customers that is consistent and enables logical, meaningful content access? And do you strive to deliver high value and delight? In addition, do you need to develop robust content experiences that stand the test of time, even if the visual presentation and templates must change with marketplace trends? Models enable you to design and implement a valuable experience for your customers, consistently, across products, authors, audiences, and timeeven in a very large enterprise. In this workshop, we’ll work through the modeling process, and you will leave with the hands-on experience of developing a use model, a content model, and an access model.

In this workshop, we will discuss why modeling is important and describe the process, including prerequisite input to ensure high-quality, valid models. Then we will walk through a concrete exercise to develop use, content, and access models for a fictional company, taking the business situation, audience, and likely product-use into account. Finally we’ll discuss approaches for applying the models, and you will try your hand at implementing a release-specific architecture based on the models.

Global-Ready Content, presented by Leah Guren
How globally-friendly is your content? How ready is it for localization? Have you considered global issues in your overall content strategy, or are you at risk of committing some potentially costly mistakes?

The good news is that global-ready content does not have to be expensive or complicated. In fact, by following these best practices, your content will be cleaner, more streamlined, easier to maintain, and more useful for all users (even for native English speakers). In this session, learn to:

  • perform a global audit to identify the Big Five problems
  • make minor but effective tweaks to your style guide
  • find often-overlooked issues in design and layout
  • consider elegant editing solutions, such as minimalism, for some content

Responsive Design and Development Certificate Course

This course consists of the following sessions:

Usability and User Experience—Maintaining Your Creative Edge, presented by Stuart Bender
This workshop introduces you to the fields of Usability and User Experience and demonstrates how to maintain a creative edge when applying them to technical communication. You’ll get historic perspective, theory, and hands-on practice, assess your skills, develop new skills based on user-centered design, and learn how to tap hidden talents for solutions or innovations which might get overlooked. You’ll design products, perform reviews, test usability, organize evaluations, and learn how personas help keep focus on user-centered design.

Although specific to software deliverables, such as online help and tutorials, you’ll learn methods to apply in any situation that demands fast and creative solutions.

After completing this workshop, you will be able to:

  • explain the basic principles of usability and user experience, and how to apply them in technical communication.
  • explain the roles in a user experience team and assess your current skills in relation to those roles.
  • run a basic one-on-one usability test.
  • run a group usability evaluation.
  • create a meeting format to tap the hidden skills of colleagues for solutions or innovations which might otherwise be overlooked.
  • create or train others to create meetings specifically designed to tap the creative, often-hidden talents of your colleagues that can offer solutions or innovations which might otherwise be overlooked.
  • use and modify a variety of usability forms from the clinic to evaluate and review products and services for quick and accurate improvements based on user-centered design principles and ease-of use.


CSS Like a Pro, presented by Scott Deloach
After this workshop, attendees will be able to:

  • Explain the core concepts of CSS and how they are used to develop styles
  • Describe the new properties in CSS3
  • Create mobile, print, and desktop-specific styles
  • Specify and prevent page breaks for print
  • Automatically add icons to content such as notes
  • Automatically add link icons, such as a PDF or external link icon
  • Use non-standard fonts
  • Alternate table row/column formatting
  • Repeat table headers and captions across pages
  • Highlighting table rows/columns on hover
  • Apply curved table borders
  • Create a non-scrolling region
  • Thumbnail images that expand on click or hover
  • Create user assistance elements, such as togglers, tooltips, and sliders
  • Use advanced selectors
  • Troubleshoot CSS issues and browser bugs

Attendees will receive a CSS quick reference card, sample files (before and after versions) of each hands-on exercise, and a list of CSS best practices.

Developing Web Apps: Foundations in HTML5, presented by Karl Stolley
This workshop introduces HTML5 and its foundations for building web applications. The workshop emphasizes a mobile-first approach, covering some basics of CSS and responsive web design, as well as the new semantics in HTML5 used for structuring information and accepting user input.

Participants will learn to assemble the basic HTML5 and CSS components for their own application that retrieves and displays some form of open data, such as current weather, movie times, or government information. The workshop will also provide hands-on experience with agile development methods and version control.

Developing Web Apps: Front-End Interaction, presented by Karl Stolley
This workshop builds on the structural foundations of HTML5 and examines manipulating the Document Object Model (DOM) using the jQuery JavaScript framework. Participants will learn to process user input and request data on the user’s behalf from a third-party private or government source via the source’s open application programming interface (API). The workshop covers both the nuts-and-bolts of manipulating the DOM to insert and remove data, as well as the design challenges of building a pleasing, animated user interface.

At the conclusion of the workshop, participants will have created their own small Web application that runs entirely in the browser and pulls data from an open API.