Tc dojo presentation writing mobile documentation

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Discusses whether content to be viewed on mobile devices has to be cut, rewritten, or both in order to be most useful. My March 3, 2014 presentation for TC Dojo.

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Tc dojo presentation writing mobile documentation

  1. 1. Writing for Mobile Rewrite? Cut?
  2. 2. Who Am I?  Neil Perlin - Hyper/Word Services. – Internationally recognized content creation and delivery consultant. – Help clients create effective, efficient, flexible content in anything from print to mobile. – Writing for online since 1986. – Working with mobile since Windows CE and WML/WAP c. 1998 – Certified – Viziapps, Flare, Mimic, RoboHelp.
  3. 3. The Issues  How should we write for mobile? – Rewrite our existing material? – Cut our existing material?  Question goes beyond “writing” alone due to technical side of today‟s tech comm. – A more complex version of the “no dumping” theme of the early „90s.  Must first define “mobile” in your context.
  4. 4. What is “Mobile”?
  5. 5. What is “Mobile”?  “Mobile” is essentially = the “undesktop” » Images from 99designs.com, biblog.arcplan.com
  6. 6. What Type of Mobile?  If apps, they‟re usually function-centric.  Differ from “normal” tech comm…
  7. 7. What Type of Mobile?  But some apps are contentcentric, effectively tech comm. – With a lot of text in this case.
  8. 8. What Type of Mobile?  What about this?
  9. 9. So Can We Write for Mobile?  Yes, depending on what mobile we mean. – A laptop is a PC. – A tablet is a small laptop without a keyboard, can show PC-type content in browser windows. – A smartphone is completely different.  And depending on whether we‟re talking about: – Web apps – browser-based. – Native/hybrid apps – platform-based or both.
  10. 10. A Design Fix For the Undesktop design – display-agnosticism.  For example, from RoboHelp 11.  Responsive
  11. 11. But Consider…  Cross-device/format/authoring tool issues: – Images may be too wide for phone screens. » Can size them relatively to fit available screen. » But are they still legible? » If not, can you conditionalize them out? » If you do, does that affect the content? » May call for greater granularity of content… » And need a CMS to deal with the greater # of content chunks even if traditional help did not. – Ditto tables.
  12. 12. More… – Consider SWFs. » Won‟t run on iOS – must be MP4 or HTML5. » Are text captions legible or must you replace them with audio = creating 2+ versions of each movie. » What happens to interactivity with no mouse? – Minimal table support in ebook formats. – “Invisible” problems of content in snippets. – And more…
  13. 13. Dealing With Text-Heaviness down text – not fat but real text – to the bare bones, such as:  Cut – – – – If 1, land. If 2, sea. Ride. Spread alarm. » With apologies to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere.
  14. 14. Dealing With Text-Heaviness  Have you reviewed your content lately for legacy content? – Mechanical, like how to use a mouse? – Domain knowledge, like accounting principles in accounting software? – Stuff that‟s just no longer applicable?  Can you delete content that may not apply to mobile but that may still be necessary?  If so, where do you put it? For example…
  15. 15. The Battle of the Sunda Straits  Created a multimedia project in „93 about a little-known naval battle from 1942. – Had 15 frames describing the action, with ~30 paragraphs of text. – Boiled down from 75 pages in Morrison‟s History of US Naval Operations in WW2. – No web in „93, so the cut 70+ pages were lost. – Can your cut material be made available if users need it?
  16. 16. Summary – Rewrite or Cut?  Both. – Cut to shorten the content and to account for technical limitations or requirements. » But make the content available if still important. – Rewrite the remainder to account for the cuts and to improve the writing in general.  We still want good writing, just less of it and more focused on the user‟s needs.
  17. 17. Hyper/Word Services Offers… Training • Consulting • Development  Flare • Flare CSS • Flare Single Sourcing  RoboHelp • RoboHelp CSS • RoboHelp HTML5  ViziApps  Single sourcing • Structured authoring
  18. 18. Thank you... Questions? 978-657-5464 nperlin@nperlin.cnc.net www.hyperword.com Twitter: NeilEric

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