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What Does it Mean to Be Helpful? with Scott Abel, The Content Wrangler

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What Does it Mean to Be Helpful? with Scott Abel, The Content Wrangler

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We aim to create high-quality content. We really do. But, more-often-than-not, we fail. We understand that high-quality content must be clear, concise, and consistent in voice, tone, and terminology. We also know that it’s supposed to be easily findable, accessible, retrievable, and relevant those who need it—delivered when, where, and how they prefer it.

Crafting content that follows the rules (grammar, punctuation, linguistics) isn’t good enough. Our content also has to be helpful.

In this fast-paced talk, Scott Abel describes what it means to be helpful. You’ll discover how understanding the power of explanation

Presented November 27, 2018, at Quadrus Conference Center for Information Development World 2018.

We aim to create high-quality content. We really do. But, more-often-than-not, we fail. We understand that high-quality content must be clear, concise, and consistent in voice, tone, and terminology. We also know that it’s supposed to be easily findable, accessible, retrievable, and relevant those who need it—delivered when, where, and how they prefer it.

Crafting content that follows the rules (grammar, punctuation, linguistics) isn’t good enough. Our content also has to be helpful.

In this fast-paced talk, Scott Abel describes what it means to be helpful. You’ll discover how understanding the power of explanation

Presented November 27, 2018, at Quadrus Conference Center for Information Development World 2018.

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What Does it Mean to Be Helpful? with Scott Abel, The Content Wrangler

  1. 1. what does it mean to be helpful twitter: @scottabel @contentwrangler #idw2018 ? Scott Abel,The Content Wrangler Information Development World
 November 27, 2018 Menlo Park, CA
  2. 2. november 2017 ziplining twitter: @scottabel @contentwrangler #idw2018
  3. 3. Scott Abel,The Content Wrangler Information Development World
 November 27, 2018 Menlo Park, CA presentation 150th november 2017san jose, ca twitter: @scottabel @contentwrangler #idw2018
  4. 4. SCOTT@THECONTENTWRANGLER.COM @SCOTTABEL THECONTENTWRANGLER.COM WITH SCOTT ABEL,
 THE CONTENT WRANGLER THE CASE FOR AGENTIVE CONTENTFROM CHATBOTS THAT HELP TO AGENTS THAT DO twitter: @scottabel @contentwrangler #idw2018 november 2017san jose, ca
  5. 5. SCOTT@THECONTENTWRANGLER.COM @SCOTTABEL THECONTENTWRANGLER.COM I HOPE TO
 CONVINCE YOU THAT AND FOCUS ON CREATING AGENTIVE CONTENT SOLUTIONS THAT WORK ON BEHALF OF OUR CUSTOMERS WE MUST PRODUCE MACHINE-READY CONTENT twitter: @scottabel @contentwrangler #idw2018
  6. 6. SCOTT@THECONTENTWRANGLER.COM @SCOTTABEL THECONTENTWRANGLER.COM WE’RE STUCK IN THE ASSISTIVE
  7. 7. SCOTT@THECONTENTWRANGLER.COM @SCOTTABEL THECONTENTWRANGLER.COM WE’RE HEADING FOR AN AGENTIVE
  8. 8. SCOTT@THECONTENTWRANGLER.COM @SCOTTABEL THECONTENTWRANGLER.COM WE’RE STUCK IN THE ASSISTIVE WE CREATE 
 CONTENT THAT HELPS
 CUSTOMERS
 COMPLETE TASKS BUT WE RELY ON THE CUSTOMER
 TO DO THE TASK
  9. 9. SCOTT@THECONTENTWRANGLER.COM @SCOTTABEL THECONTENTWRANGLER.COM ASSISTIVE DOCUMENTATIONEXAMPLE PUTS THE ONUS ON THE
 CUSTOMER TO GET VALUE 
 FROM THE PRODUCT HP FORCES ITS CUSTOMERS TO DO THINGS THEY DON’T WANT — OR NEED — TO DO twitter: @scottabel @contentwrangler #idw2018
  10. 10. SCOTT@THECONTENTWRANGLER.COM @SCOTTABEL THECONTENTWRANGLER.COM WE’RE HEADING FOR AN AGENTIVE ACT ON BEHALF OF USERS WE NEED TO DEVELOP
 CONTENT SOLUTIONS THAT
  11. 11. SCOTT@THECONTENTWRANGLER.COM @SCOTTABEL THECONTENTWRANGLER.COM WE HAVE BEEN CREATING THE SAME OLD TYPE OF LESS-THAN-SPECTACULAR CONTENT FOR DECADES THIS IS NOT ABOUT HP OR LASER PRINTERS IT'S TIME FOR CHANGE! twitter: @scottabel @contentwrangler #idw2018
  12. 12. SCOTT@THECONTENTWRANGLER.COM @SCOTTABEL THECONTENTWRANGLER.COM WE NEED TO RETHINK WHAT IT MEANS TO SERVEOUR AUDIENCE twitter: @scottabel @contentwrangler #idw2018
  13. 13. SCOTT@THECONTENTWRANGLER.COM @SCOTTABEL THECONTENTWRANGLER.COM HELPFUL I THOUGHT I WAS BEING presented the audience with facts, stats, quotes, and examples twitter: @scottabel @contentwrangler #idw2018
  14. 14. SCOTT@THECONTENTWRANGLER.COM @SCOTTABEL THECONTENTWRANGLER.COM RESPOND BUT THE AUDIENCE DID NOT AS I ANTICIPATED ? ? ? twitter: @scottabel @contentwrangler #idw2018
  15. 15. SCOTT@THECONTENTWRANGLER.COM @SCOTTABEL THECONTENTWRANGLER.COM didn’t they “get it”? how did they not have the ‘aha” moment I envisioned? twitter: @scottabel @contentwrangler #idw2018
  16. 16. SCOTT@THECONTENTWRANGLER.COM @SCOTTABEL THECONTENTWRANGLER.COM perhaps it was the about which I was unaware at the time brain tumor twitter: @scottabel @contentwrangler #idw2018
  17. 17. SCOTT@THECONTENTWRANGLER.COM @SCOTTABEL THECONTENTWRANGLER.COM as it turns out it was probably not the brain tumor twitter: @scottabel @contentwrangler #idw2018 the curse of knowledge
  18. 18. SCOTT@THECONTENTWRANGLER.COM @SCOTTABEL THECONTENTWRANGLER.COM a cognitive bias — one party assumes that the others have the background knowledge needed to understand twitter: @scottabel @contentwrangler #idw2018 the curse of knowledge what is the curse of knowledge?
  19. 19. SCOTT@THECONTENTWRANGLER.COM @SCOTTABEL THECONTENTWRANGLER.COM twitter: @scottabel @contentwrangler #idw2018 our level of knowledge interferes
 with our ability to see the world from another’s perspective sme’s management legal existing customers
  20. 20. SCOTT@THECONTENTWRANGLER.COM @SCOTTABEL THECONTENTWRANGLER.COM when we know a subject very well, we have a difficult time knowing what it’s like not to know it twitter: @scottabel @contentwrangler #idw2018 the curse of knowledge
  21. 21. SCOTT@THECONTENTWRANGLER.COM @SCOTTABEL THECONTENTWRANGLER.COM twitter: @scottabel @contentwrangler #idw2018 the curse of knowledge let’s test this out with two volunteers volunteer 1 tapper volunteer 2 Listener tapper taps out well-known song on table; listener guesses the song
  22. 22. SCOTT@THECONTENTWRANGLER.COM @SCOTTABEL THECONTENTWRANGLER.COM twitter: @scottabel @contentwrangler #idw2018 the curse of knowledge what is basic knowledge to one person
 might be completely foreign to another big lesson
  23. 23. you know helpful when you experience it … just as you know unhelpful when you experience it … Associate Justice (1958—1981)
 United States Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart twitter: @scottabel @contentwrangler #idw2018
  24. 24. when you see it you know helpful twitter: @scottabel @contentwrangler #idw2018
  25. 25. organizations are working to make their content 
 easy to understand twitter: @scottabel @contentwrangler #idw2018
  26. 26. Lookfor ways to make your content the 5 Cs helpfulcontent is empathetic valuable useful clear concise consistent considerate convenient twitter: @scottabel @contentwrangler #idw2018
  27. 27. questions to ask about your content Scott Abel,The Content Wrangler Information Development World
 November 27, 2018 Menlo Park, CA how will the content you plan to create meet the needs of your audiences? how will you
 measure success? which audiences?which needs, exactly? helpful or not? twitter: @scottabel @contentwrangler #idw2018
  28. 28. if content is king then context is the kingdom twitter: @scottabel @contentwrangler #idw2018
  29. 29. incorrect assumptions damage experiences what Target assumed small, stuffy office spaceproblem: purchase a small fansolution: shop for informationstrategy: twitter: @scottabel @contentwrangler #idw2018
  30. 30. helpfulness offered helpfulness offered helpfulness offered return? I’ll try this! neither one! twitter: @scottabel @contentwrangler #idw2018 who said anything about a return? I guess I have no other choice where is the
 content I need?
  31. 31. let me tell you a story twitter: @scottabel @contentwrangler #idw2018
  32. 32. meet Carla documentation manager Carla thinks that improving the quality of the content her team produces should improve
 the customer experience and in turn lead to a reduction in customer complaints multinational medical devices firm competitors encroaching customer complaints rising configurable products twitter: @scottabel @contentwrangler #idw2018
  33. 33. twitter: @scottabel @contentwrangler #idw2018 traditional technical documentation approaches are preventing her team from creating content of value that meets the needs of both her company and its prospective and existing customers Carla realizes that…
  34. 34. Carla has noticed that the support team spends considerable time explaining to customers how their products work Carla works with others to discover the problem meets with the support team twitter: @scottabel @contentwrangler #idw2018
  35. 35. twitter: @scottabel @contentwrangler #idw2018 she learns that both prospective and existing customers complain that the content provided by her team is confusing and frustrating to use by collaborating with others
  36. 36. Carla’s research uncovers an unexpected challenge her team has an twitter: @scottabel @contentwrangler #idw2018 problem explanation efficiency over understanding they’ve focused on
  37. 37. twitter: @scottabel @contentwrangler #idw2018 an explanation framework that will help her team focus on creating understanding, 
 instead of just the efficient publishing of facts understanding over efficiency fortunately,
 Carla discovered
  38. 38. Carla discovered that an explanation framework could be used to help her team explain ideas in the most helpful ways possible twitter: @scottabel @contentwrangler #idw2018
  39. 39. twitter: @scottabel @contentwrangler #idw2018 the explanation scale overcome the curse of knowledge using
  40. 40. reach of current explanations more understandingless understanding potential market A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • leaderspractitionersearly adopters goal: move to right the explanation scale the curse of knowledge
  41. 41. the curse of knowledge cripples your ability to make accurate assumptions the curse of knowledge humans favor plausibility over accuracy we need the appearance of truth to see something as credible or believable
  42. 42. the curse of knowledge prevents us from understanding how our language sounds to those outside our organizations the curse of knowledge explanations fail when we are unable to translate the language of our work to the language of a potentially underinformed audience
  43. 43. reach of current explanations more understandingless understanding potential market A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • leaderspractitionersearly adopters goal: move to right the explanation scale everything starts with why how becomes important explanations stories case studies use cases processes case studiesexplanations procedures best practices
  44. 44. reach of current explanations more understandingless understanding potential market A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • leaderspractitionersearly adopters goal: move to right the explanation scale everything starts with why how becomes important explanations stories case studies use cases processes case studiesexplanations procedures best practices
  45. 45. Carla discovered that an explanation framework could be used to help her team explain ideas in the most helpful ways possible twitter: @scottabel @contentwrangler #idw2018
  46. 46. Create content that makes it easy for others who “get it” to quickly and effectively explain it to others goal needs • standardized product descriptions terminology definitions tactics • audience needs analysis • content inventory • content model creation • assumption testing • incorporating lessons learned
  47. 47. what does it mean to be helpful twitter: @scottabel @contentwrangler #idw2018 ? Scott Abel,The Content Wrangler Information Development World
 November 27, 2018 Menlo Park, CA

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