Small steps to content strategy
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Small steps to content strategy Small steps to content strategy Presentation Transcript

  • Small Steps to Content Strategy
  • Who Am I?
    • Neil Perlin - Hyper/Word Services.
      • In tech. comm. since ‘79 at DEC.
      • Creating hypertext since ’85, WinHelp since ’90, HTML since ‘91.
      • Training and consulting on HATs since ’95, XML, mobile devices, single-sourcing, structured authoring since ‘98.
      • Certified – Captivate, Mimic, Flare, RoboHelp, MobiFlex, others now gone.
  • Contents
    • Why Have a “Content Strategy”?
    • Big Issues in Small Steps
    • Why Have a “Content Strategy”?
  • Shifting Environment
    • We’re in an era of increasing flux:
      • Writing in relative decline vs. other forms of comm.
      • “ Content” being created by more sources in more forms than ever before.
      • More single sourcing to more different outputs.
      • Technology advancing rapidly, with brand new things coming.
  • The Response
    • Working under these conditions quickly, cost-effectively, and responsively means defining and formalizing how we create and manage content – a strategy.
      • The “winging it” days are ending.
      • May also help tech comm justify its existence by participating in and even helping direct the larger strategy.
  • Why Now? Why Not Now?
    • Now?
      • You’re at a transition point – preparing to go online or switch online formats anyway.
      • Your workflow problems have grown to the point that it’s time to take action.
      • Content strategy is hip, we’re hip, ergo…
    • Not now?
      • No reason – defining CS simply boils down to revisiting how and why you work the way you do and changing as necessary.
  • Philosophy and Cautions
    • Distinguish between strategy and tactics.
      • Prepare for the former before doing the latter.
    • Make decisions deliberately.
      • Avoid the “Ready, fire, aim… oops” approach.
      • But avoid paralysis by over-analysis.
    • Anticipate a continuing, often messy effort.
  • An Unpleasant Question
    • What doc group goals are we pursuing?
    • What company goals are we pursuing?
      • Does the company know or care that doc is pursuing those goals – e.g. indicates doc’s credibility within the company.
    • Big Issues In Small Steps
  • Four Big Issues
    • Strategic Direction
    • Definitions
    • Culture
    • Standards
  • Strategic Direction
    • What’s the company’s strategic business direction?
    • How does doc support that direction?
      • In the past, doc was reactive and didn’t have to know about strategic direction.
      • Today, as companies are adapting to weird new technologies (Twitter? QR codes?), we have to help make decisions.
      • If not, then others will make decisions for us.
  • Help Define That Direction
    • Learn the company’s direction in general and with regard to “content,” NOT “doc.”
      • Such as social media.
    • Help set that content and general direction.
      • Get enough credibility to get involved.
      • Stay involved to keep, extend that credibility.
    • Think ahead and extensibly.
      • Stay on the edge – embrace technical change.
  • Definitions
    • “ Strategy” – Must define it to create it.
      • Business aspects, technologies, other?
    • “ Topic-based authoring”
    • “ Structured authoring”
      • May just mean that content has “structure”.
    • “ Online” – Web? Browser-based online help or doc? PDF? Mobile? Other?
    • Any other?
  • Culture and Politics
    • How does doc relate to other groups?
    • With what representatives? Credibility?
      • Willingness to speak other groups’ language.
      • Effect of company culture when picking reps.
        • Young, petite, shy women may have problems.
        • So may lone reps and hostile writers.
        • Need a political sense.
      • Doc reps must participate in all events.
  • Need To/Willingness To Keep Up
    • Hard to keep up with technology and tool changes.
      • Names are confusing or confusingly similar:
        • Windows Help vs. Windows Help.
        • WebHelp vs. Web Help.
        • HTML Help vs. HTML help.
        • Single sourcing vs. multi-channel publishing.
        • Chrome?
        • Google Docs?
        • Native apps vs. web apps vs. eBooks.
  • Need To/Willingness To Keep Up
    • The issues:
      • What are these new technologies? Tools?
      • How and when may they affect my company?
        • And me?
      • Are people amenable to keeping up?
      • Will strategic change make people leave?
        • You’ll gain people with new tool and technology skills but lose people with domain knowledge.
  • Political Issues
    • Missing the point – Doing something for coolness, or not wanting to kill a bad idea for fear of losing a learning opportunity.
    • Infeasibility – A plan to kill the doc group by having the engineers write the content, or wanting to “automate” doc work via a CMS.
      • Yet the idea keeps popping up…
  • Political Issues
    • Posturing – Pushing “bold leaps,” even if impractical, unneeded, or harmful.
    • Turf – Content strategy may require some-one to give up some power.
    • Competition – “Content” is cool and pays well, so consultants are now competitors.
      • Defining a content strategy is often what they do; we need to do so too in order to compete.
  • Standards
    • Does/would your company support:
      • External standards – For technologies, outputs, etc.
        • From external bodies – W3C, OASIS, IDPF...
        • Like XML, HTML 5, CSS, ePub, mobi…
        • May affect tool selection.
      • Internal standards – For workflows.
        • Like information structure and templates, indexing, wording, CSS specifics, etc.
  • Some Broad Standard Suggestions
    • Consider your culture.
      • Make standards “invisible” by embedding them if possible, like Flare’s master stylesheet.
      • Publicize the standards, train people on them, made adherence mandatory.
  • And Some Specific Ones…
    • Think ahead – will these idea fly in your company?
      • Develop in-house expertise.
      • Stay out of the code.
      • Use styles and CSS for all formatting.
      • Stay flexible – font sets, relative sizes.
      • Validate your code – try
      • Think inside the box – Avoid tool “hacks”.
  • Validation Example
    • For example, this page:
  • Validation To This…
    • From Jigsaw – but do these errors matter?
  • Thinking Outside That Box…
    • This WinHelp code: Produced this:
  • Until the Box Closed…
    • As HAT HTML converter “fixed” to this:
    • Next Steps…
    • Once you understand the environment, you can move from strategy to specific tactics:
      • Information analysis and type definition.
      • Control mechanism definition.
      • Output definition and cross-output feature set “rationalization”
      • Sources and types of content, writing changes.
      • Tool evaluation/re-evaluation, purchase.
  • As You Do, Remember…
    • KISS!
    • Plan before you begin in order to:
      • Minimize flailing and operational disruption during implementation.
      • Help internalize the processes in the company.
      • Minimize feature and expectation creep, esp. in political environments.
    • KISS!
  • Thank you... Questions? Hyper/Word Services 978-657-5464 [email_address] Twitter: NeilEric
  • Hyper/Word Services Offers…
    • Training • Consulting • Development
      • Flare • RoboHelp • RoboInfo • Mobile
      • Mimic • Captivate
      • XML
      • Single sourcing • Structured authoring