Resizing Content for the Small Screen: Considerations for Single-Source Authoring for Tablet and Mobile Delivery
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Resizing Content for the Small Screen: Considerations for Single-Source Authoring for Tablet and Mobile Delivery

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The proliferation of computer tablets, smart phones, and other handheld eReaders has changed customer expectations as to how and when they can access critical content. A great number of technical ...

The proliferation of computer tablets, smart phones, and other handheld eReaders has changed customer expectations as to how and when they can access critical content. A great number of technical documents contain content that must be output to multiple devices. Tablets and handhelds provide a much smaller viewing area, so a new set of best practices is needed to shape text and images to not only fit a smaller screen, but also be of a convenient length for “thumbing” rather than paging. Join Adobe’s Maxwell Hoffmann, who uses his years of single-source, multichannel output publishing to share some useful guidelines for this new publishing challenge.

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Resizing Content for the Small Screen: Considerations for Single-Source Authoring for Tablet and Mobile Delivery Presentation Transcript

  • 1. Resizing Content for the Small Screen: Considerations forSingle-Source Authoring for Tablet and Mobile Delivery Maxwell Hoffmann | Adobe Product Evangelist | Twitter @maxwellhoffmann | mhoffman@adobe.com© 2012 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. Adobe Confidential.
  • 2. About Maxwell HoffmannMaxwell Hoffmann Product Evangelist, Tech Comm Suite Recent arrival at Adobe Started with early forms of proprietary single-source publishing, grew with the industry 15 years in translation industry, working on “whatever documents come through the door” Extensive sales and customer training experience  Trained over 1,200 people in hands-on, scalable publishing solutions Product Manager for Frame Technology Over a dozen years in the Field doing consulting & production “I’m back!”© 2012 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. Adobe Confidential. 2
  • 3. About Adobe  Adobe Systems (Fast Facts) • Founded 1982 • Stock Symbol ADBE (NASDAQ) • Initial Public Offering - */20/86 at a split-adjusted share price of $.17 • 2012 Revenue - $4.216 billion (11 percent yr-over-yr growth) • Adobe is changing the world through digital experiences. • We harness our creative DNA to not only enable the creation of beautiful and powerful images, video and apps, but to reinvent how companies interact with their customers across every digital channel and screen.© 2012 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. Adobe Confidential. 3
  • 4. How do we get from “here” to “there”?© 2012 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. Adobe Confidential. 4
  • 5. What I Learned from over 25 years in publishing and training  Publishers (me too) are often hypnotized by new technologies or new delivery platforms  Excessive focus on tools and trends sometimes makes us forget “should this legacy data be republished?”  Legacy files are rarely “cleansed/optimized” before conversion to new delivery  Some writers still want their fingerprints on their chapters (“unpublished” novelist syndrome)  “Less is More” has yet to catch on with content  Many have instinctive resistance to “guided” content creation (e.g. simplified English)© 2012 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. Adobe Confidential. 5
  • 6. How the landscape has changed for Content Creators  Readers:  Have less time and shorter attention spans  Expect the latest, up-to-date version of any content ASAP  Writers/Artists:  Fewer of us (smaller work groups)  Less times, shorter delivery schedules (magnified by target languages with localization/translation)  Workload (amount of data) often 2-3x that of 10 years ago  Increased pressure to serve Global Audience  21st Century “tech writers” struggling to gain status, recognition and influence over budget© 2012 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. Adobe Confidential. 6
  • 7. Presentation in a nut shell  Prez focuses on concepts, not specifics  Not a SW demo  Observations about several trends that need to die  Why we do things the way we do  Guidelines for authoring content that fits a screen you can hold in your hand  Some exercises we can use to “break” the habit of bloated content creation  Modified expectations about single-source publishing© 2012 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. Adobe Confidential. 7
  • 8. We have “fat” legacy content and less space for it© 2012 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. Adobe Confidential. 8
  • 9. In technical content, we still write more than people can read© 2012 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. Adobe Confidential. 9
  • 10. Customers have less time to consume data© 2012 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. Adobe Confidential. 10
  • 11. How did we a get “page-based” lens for content?  Page size or laptop/computer size is often the “lens” through which we visualize delivered content  Most of us write enough words to fill up the space we are working in (e.g. “write to the bottom of the page”)  Technical content: some of us still love to unnecessarily bracket “critical info” in nested lists or tables  Many of us fall into “arms-length” syndrome: content looks good on computer screen  That may not be the distance / size / shape of content in final delivery© 2012 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. Adobe Confidential. 11
  • 12. Why do we write more content than people can read?  We’re subject matter experts; we know a lot, we have a lot to say  Most of us are used to describing steps rather than dynamic, visual presentation  We are often revising earlier versions of “documentation” with some content that is 15 years old  We have few examples or models to work from for “reduced” content versions© 2012 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. Adobe Confidential. 12
  • 13. CHALLENGE: repackaging message/content in smaller containers© 2012 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. Adobe Confidential. 13
  • 14. (sigh) -- The inevitable history/timeline slide …. Note: this is for humor; we did not cover the evolution of “platforms” in the live presentation© 2012 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. Adobe Confidential. 14
  • 15. Historic precedents: old content on new platforms  Early television turned to the past: Vaudeville and Radio Shows were rehashed -- (it worked for 4 or 5 years)© 2012 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. Adobe Confidential. 15
  • 16. Historic precedents: old content on new platforms  Theatrical films on TV: the world before letter box “fat” content on a small screen© 2012 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. Adobe Confidential. 16
  • 17. Historic precedents: old content on new platforms  Newspapers and websites: it took them over 10 years to “get it” … 1996 LA Times 2012 LA Times© 2012 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. Adobe Confidential. 17
  • 18. What about the “new” small screen?© 2012 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. Adobe Confidential. 18
  • 19. Tech Comm thrived on indents, lists, tables, boxed cautions for emphasis© 2012 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. Adobe Confidential. 19
  • 20. This aspect ratio presents challenges for technical material© 2012 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. Adobe Confidential. 20
  • 21. “Fat” bulleted or numbered lists are typical small screen challenge 1. One very long bulleted list may require 10 to 20 smartphone screens 2. Thumbs will wear out navigating through this many points 3. Reader retention is diminished 4. Follow some guidelines from PowerPoint regarding max number of points and reader retention© 2012 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. Adobe Confidential. 21
  • 22. From “Death by PowerPoint”© 2012 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. Adobe Confidential. 22
  • 23. From “Death by PowerPoint”© 2012 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. Adobe Confidential. 23
  • 24. Some options to consider 1. Use conditional text or filter by attributes (DITA) to reduce content if single- sourcing 2. In some cases, alternate sections for an executive summary 3. Does this lengthy tech doc manual really need to go to mobile devices? 4. In extreme cases copy writing for alternate version may be appropriate© 2012 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. Adobe Confidential. 24
  • 25. HOW can you write content short enough for small screen?  Use alternate templates that simulate screen and font/point size ratio  Use WYSIWYG editing display to see how much content you have for iPhone screen as you write it© 2012 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. Adobe Confidential. 25
  • 26. HOW can you write content short enough for small screen?  A practice exercise: use “mailing labels” template in Word, or make “tiny page” template in FrameMaker. Do your normal writing style and see how many “screens” you fill  Scotch tape 3x5 cards to sheet of paper; fill them in on a typewriter (yes, a typewriter) … this is an exercise, you’re only going to do this once  Don’t worry about typos  This makes you physically aware of approximate “line breaks”  Working with physical media (construction paper and scissors) permanently plants a “gauge” of content in your mind© 2012 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. Adobe Confidential. 26
  • 27. HOW can you write content short enough for small screen?  Changing writing style to shorter word count:  Use simplified/controlled English tools that prompt you for approved, shorter sentences  (No, I’m not kidding) – use dictation; record your text with digital recorder (or software that “types” from you voice).  Don’t worry about quality; you can edit later  Whatever you can say w/o taking a breath is a good gague for memory retention on small screen  Make discreet use of rich media; 3D graphics, video clips or dynamic screen captures (sized for small screen)  This allows the reader to pause on one screenful and get it© 2012 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. Adobe Confidential. 27
  • 28. HOW can you write content short enough for small screen?  Make a storyboard on manila file folder with post-it stickers  Forces your mind to think in pictures; this translates better to shorter content  This is an exercise, not a way of life … don’t freak out. I tried it and this works  Using physical media with your hands forces your “writer’s mind” to create along different lines than used when fingers touch the keyboard in our “comfort zone”© 2012 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. Adobe Confidential. 28
  • 29. HOW can you write content short enough for small screen?  Read Dorothy Parker short stories  Although Parker wrote fiction, she was a master at using minimum number of words to convey profound thoughts and emotions  Find podcasts of Martha Stewart’s 90 seconds of “what you need to know”  Stewart (or her writers) was a genius at capturing all essential ingredients for a message in a radio or podcast about the length of an “elevator pitch”© 2012 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. Adobe Confidential. 29
  • 30. Lessons from the translation industry  In some cases, “copy writing” (or rewrite for summary/mobile version) may be appropriate  Not all technical content will be suited for 100% single source publishing to full “page” output and vastly reduced “hand held” screen output  Think of portable devices as a “locale”:  You have an exotic population that has less time to absorb a message  Your target “locale” has a shorter attention span; important points must come first  Your target “locale” only has a thumb to navigate …. Content must appear in visual ‘chunks’  In many cases, the reader is “standing in line” … physical comfort as well as “findability” are major issues© 2012 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. Adobe Confidential. 30
  • 31. Our product “wish list” …  We need an authoring solution that shows how much text you have created in different screen sizes while you are writing  Complete separation for format from content may not always work for this scenario  DITA modules can be ideal, but visual feedback on “frame fill” is needed  Authoring solution needs to be accessible to mere mortals. Not all SMEs are going to be experts at document structure  Author plug-ins that not only “guide” simplified English but set off a “buzzer” when you’ve hit 1.5 screens with one paragraphs  An ability to pre-visualize final output to ePubs and mobile devices before you’ve completed mountains of text© 2012 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. Adobe Confidential. 31
  • 32. Adobe Invites You to GRAPHiti The first ever Facebook Contest for Technical Communication professionals Visit facebook.com/adobetcs and participate 3 iPads to be won!© 2012 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. Adobe Confidential. 32
  • 33. Contact Information Information Maxwell Hoffmann Twitter twitter.com/maxwellhoffmann Adobe Systems, Inc. Email mhoffman@adobe.com Product Evangelist Web www.adobe.com LinkedIn www.linkedin.com/in/maxwellhoffmann Blog blogs.adobe.com/mbhoffmann Blog blogs.adobe.com/techcomm Facebook facebook.com/adobe.tcs© 2012 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. Adobe Confidential. 33
  • 34. © 2012 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. Adobe Confidential.
  • 35. Question And Answer Time© 2012 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. Adobe Confidential. 35