Getting it Right: Building Quality into your Content (July 2014)

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This presentation was delivered as a webinar hosted by STC France on July 8, 2014.

This talk focused on the steps to be taken to design quality into your content assets and to then see that quality realized in high quality information products.

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  • Hi Rob. A good question. It is a tricky proposition to be sure. There is definitely the 'content writer' role. There is the information designer role. To over-complicate things further, there is often a 'content engineering' role on my projects that tries to tie the working pieces together as the pieces are all changed. I think that this is why we are both bald.
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  • Great slide deck, Joe. Wish I had been there to hear your presentation! When you speak about the author and author engagement, do we need to consider the separation of roles of content writer and information designer? These roles can be fulfilled by the same person but from different perspectives. Just as we've come so far in separating content from presentation, I worry that authors will tailor their words to suit the presentation in a prototype rather than revisit the prototype design to accommodate the presentation of the words.
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  • Fantastic clarity and very good presentation, I could understand - still struggling to digest. Because I am very very serious about this topic and trying many implication. My hypothesis is that - there are so many automation tools for structuring the content and to help the search engine to understand and retrieve with precision. I trying to characterize the quantum of it. Thanks a lot - I love your presentation and its comprehensiveness with clarity and authority in it
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  • Joe, good thoughts. The challenge is building good content is defining what 'good' is. Don't forget CAMeditor also - build better XML and superior XML validation services too :-)
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Getting it Right: Building Quality into your Content (July 2014)

  1. 1. Copyright © Joe Gollner 2014 Getting it Right: Building Quality into your Content @joegollner
  2. 2. Commentary: Introduction This presentation was delivered as a webinar hosted by STC France on July 8, 2014. See http://stcfrance.org The goal of the presentation was to explore the key steps to be taken in order to achieve and sustain content quality.
  3. 3. A Practitioner with Content Technologies for 25 years (!) A little too interested in exploring the nature of content & what it means to manage & leverage it. Based in Ottawa, Canada The Content Philosopher blog www.gollner.ca The Messenger
  4. 4. Content Quality: Topics Some Definitions Content Quality Tools of the Trade The Role of Automation The Human Element The Outcomes
  5. 5. Content Is what we plan, design, create, reuse & manage so that we can deliver a range of effective information products Content is potential information (it is the asset we manage) Information Is the meaningful organization of data communicated in a specific context to achieve specific goals Information is a transaction (a product) that contains & delivers Content Key Definitions Aqua Mechanica
  6. 6. Content Components Text Modules Media Resources Data Sources Relationship Links Metadata Properties Concept Taxonomies Assembly Maps Governing Models Validation Criteria Processing Rules Formatting Instructions Distribution Rights Authority References An information product is composed of numerous content components coming together to create an effective information transaction Content Assets come together to make Information The phrase “Potential information” encompasses all of the components that must come together to produce an information product.
  7. 7. Contentus / Contenta / Contentum: that which is assembled & contained Ingredients Tools Procedures Packaging Presentation The Essence of Content
  8. 8. Commentary: Defining Content The example of the Sachertorte is a useful way to understand this particular approach to defining content. If we are to reproduce an exquisitely delicious torte then we need more than just the ingredients. It would be possible, even likely, to mix those ingredients, bake them, and then be left with a mess. Tools, skills and a proven recipe outlining the step-by-step preparation instructions are all needed. Just so with content. If we rewind an effective information transaction, we will find all the pieces that need to come together to produce a comparable information event.
  9. 9. Commentary: Defining Content – 2 By introducing such a sharp distinction between content and information, we make it possible to focus fully on the challenges of managing and optimizing content. It also makes it clear that managing information is a different, but no less challenging, area of specialization. These two domains overlap in the Information Product that is published from the available content assets and that is transacted within the context of one or more business processes.
  10. 10. The Secret Life of Content
  11. 11. Why is this Important? A discussion of Content Quality must begin with a clear understanding of what Content is The definition of content as potential information underscores its technical dimension Content is typically encountered in a published form, which is the result of many pieces being assembled & delivered using automation
  12. 12. The Content Life Cycle Content Acquisition Content Management Content Delivery Content Engagement How content is created, converted or licensed How content is selected, assembled & published How content is changed, controlled & protected How content is improved by user feedback
  13. 13. Commentary: Balance within the Content Lifecycle The content lifecycle activities effectively encompass all of the things that happen to content and that can be done with content. These activities share numerous inter-dependencies, and improvements in one area will often be dependent on supporting improvements being made in other activities. It is one of the key functions of a Content Strategy to establish and maintain a working balance among the content lifecycle activities.
  14. 14. Content Strategy: A Plan for Continuous Improvement Content Acquisition Content Management Content Delivery Content Engagement Content Strategy
  15. 15. Peter Drucker (Management Thinker) Quality in a product or service is not what the supplier puts in. It is what the customer gets out and is willing to pay for….Customers pay only for what is of use to them and gives them value. Nothing else constitutes quality. John Ruskin (English Artist / Art & Social Critic) Quality is never an accident. It is always the result of intelligent effort. Aristotle (Greek Philosopher) Quality is not an act, it is a habit. The Content Philosopher Quality is the alignment of results with requirements Defining Quality
  16. 16. Commentary: Quality as a Form of Balance The alignment of results & requirements as the essence of quality is an important thing to stress. Over-investment in solution capabilities, or gold-plating as it is also known, is as serious a problem as under-investment. Gold-plating is a serious problem because it leads, quite quickly, to elevated system complexity and with that increased development & support costs. It is important to balance investments so that they align with business priorities which usually means addressing client needs effectively.
  17. 17. Content Quality
  18. 18. Information Quality Feedback Loop Content quality can only be measured indirectly It is information that interacts with real users & their tasks Content Acquisition Content Management Content Engagement Content Delivery Content Strategy Information Product User Task Guidance Feedback Feedback & analytics from information use is what drives Content Engagement
  19. 19. Content Quality Feedback Loop The Key Challenge for the Content Quality Process Content is associated with many information products & uses Content Acquisition Content Management Content Engagement Content Delivery Content Strategy Information Product User Task Guidance Feedback The more variety in information products, the greater the content quality challenge
  20. 20. Commentary: Quality Feedback Loops Any one content component may participate in potentially large numbers of information products. Dozens of information products being produced from a set of content components is common. In some projects, a content component can find itself being published in thousands of concurrent information products. These information products reflect different product versions, different audience views, different languages, different formats,…. Content quality is determined by aggregating feedback on all active information products.
  21. 21. Do we have good quality content if it is accurate & up-to-date but only useful in one of the needed information formats? No! Rhetorical Question
  22. 22. Tools of the Trade
  23. 23. Content Creators & Editors Need to be able to work efficiently & naturally This calls for: A stable & responsive tool for editing XML content A management environment that supports the discovery & reuse of content components Referencing & reuse activities are continuously streamlined Improves content consistency Tools Matter
  24. 24. Customizing your XML Editor to bring authors “closer” to their content and to all outputs… Enhanced validation services Provide useful feedback to authors Tailored Authoring Experiences Schematron ISO/IEC 19757-3:2006 Information technology -- Document Schema Definition Language (DSDL) -- Part 3: Rule-based validation -- Schematron
  25. 25. Authors will increasingly need to experience content as it will be experienced by users Previewing is the first step Information Prototyping allows authors to explore user tasks as a way to refine content From Previewing to Information Prototyping
  26. 26. Commentary: Information Prototyping Information Prototyping extends the previewing function to the generation of complete environments that users will experience. More and more users interact not so much with individual information artifacts as with networked collections of information items that they search and navigate through in order to complete tasks. Authors need to be able to see content as it will be experienced by users. A tangible sense of this will feed directly into how the content is prepared.
  27. 27. Information Prototyping Makes it possible to engage users in formal usability tests Key Questions Are users able to perform their key tasks? When more complex situations arise, can users find the right information quickly? Does the information formatting work well with the target device? Information Usability Testing
  28. 28. The Role of Automation
  29. 29. Automated processes can analyze your content & give authors input Analysis can be tailored to address known issues or goals Automated Content Analysis www.acrolinx.com
  30. 30. Commentary: Content Analysis All analysis processes should be welcomed. The analysis results should be integrated & displayed in ways that are informative & useful. Authors & managers find ways to interpret them. Running analysis processes on content provides a secondary benefit. It subjects content to processing scenarios (e.g., with third party tools) that can uncover low-level issues that can cause trouble elsewhere. (Processability is integral to the nature of content.)
  31. 31. The processes by which content becomes information products are critical How well these processes are designed, built & supported will determine how reliable & responsive they will be An important area of technical specialization Information Prototyping can be used to continually test processes Content Processing Pipelines (often the weak link)
  32. 32. The Human Element
  33. 33. Ultimately a Management Responsibility Tactics for engaging Authors Provide useful feedback Eliminate inefficiencies Involve authors in the design & evolution of information products Help to bring authors close to how the information will be used Content Quality depends upon Author Engagement
  34. 34. Commentary: Author Engagement There will be significant politics & cultural dynamics in any initiative to change the way content is handled. Management needs to display leadership but is usually engaged elsewhere. Management contributions are more likely to take the form of abrupt changes to the budget or plan. Making up for the general weakness of management leadership in most organizations will be your biggest challenge.
  35. 35. Outcomes
  36. 36. The effects of content quality surface in many ways This can be a challenge The investment in content quality can be hidden behind the effects Organizations often forget where high quality information products come from It is our task to make sure that organizations understand the importance of content quality & that they do not forget it… Information Quality is the Outcome of Content Quality
  37. 37. Commentary: Selling Content Quality A useful tactic is to pitch new information products that are only possible through well-managed content. Management will still only see the new information products and quickly forget that they depend on well-managed content. Often you will need to introduce a stream of new and improved information products that together cannot be achieved without well-managed content.
  38. 38. Questions & Comments

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