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Microcontent Migration: Making the Move to New Content Opportunities

Microcontent Migration: Making the Move to New Content Opportunities

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Is your company’s content stuck in static document formats like Word or PDF? It’s time for a microcontent migration! At Precision Content, we recently moved an important internal publication out of Word and into microcontent; now our content can be easily updated, reused, or published to whatever output our users need. Come along as I detail how we identified opportunities in our unstructured content, strategically rewrote certain sections to maximize reusability, marked it all up in specialized DITA XML, and thoughtfully planned a microcontent governance strategy to safeguard and extend our newly unlocked business benefits. This education session will be of interest to authors and information architects who want to move beyond the theoretical and see a real-world demonstration of the opportunities enabled by microcontent.

Presented by Josh Anderson at the Society for Technical Communication Summit 2022 on May 18, 2022.

Is your company’s content stuck in static document formats like Word or PDF? It’s time for a microcontent migration! At Precision Content, we recently moved an important internal publication out of Word and into microcontent; now our content can be easily updated, reused, or published to whatever output our users need. Come along as I detail how we identified opportunities in our unstructured content, strategically rewrote certain sections to maximize reusability, marked it all up in specialized DITA XML, and thoughtfully planned a microcontent governance strategy to safeguard and extend our newly unlocked business benefits. This education session will be of interest to authors and information architects who want to move beyond the theoretical and see a real-world demonstration of the opportunities enabled by microcontent.

Presented by Josh Anderson at the Society for Technical Communication Summit 2022 on May 18, 2022.

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Microcontent Migration: Making the Move to New Content Opportunities

  1. 1. Microcontent Migration Josh Anderson, CPTC Making the Move to New Content Opportunities
  2. 2. Who I Am • Associate Information Architect at Precision Content • Sessional Instructional Assistant at the University of Toronto • Master of Information from the University of Toronto • Certified Professional Technical Communicator (CPTC) • Grew up in Chicagoland
  3. 3. 3 About Precision Content We are experts in structured content. We’re a full-service, end-to-end technical communications consultancy, technology innovator, and systems integrator offering professional services, training, and technology. Areas of Expertise Precision Content is home to thought leaders and expertise in the areas of • structured authoring methods • content lifecycle management • DITA/XML design and implementation • information architecture • content strategy, • and structured content delivery.
  4. 4. 4 Introduction to the problem • Our employee handbook was unstructured, out-of-date, and unable to be easily published in the formats we desired
  5. 5. 5 What we could do with our handbook vs. what we wanted to be able to do • Things we could do • Print the Word document • Things we wanted to be able to do • Make collaboration easier • Reuse some topics • Track old revisions of specific topics • Load topics into a component content management system (CCMS) • Future-proof the content • Use variables to provide specific names rather than roles within the handbook (e.g., “Chris” instead of “COO”)
  6. 6. 6 Microcontent Is content that is • about one primary idea, fact, or concept • easily scannable • labelled for clear identification and meaning, and • appropriately written and formatted for use anywhere and anytime it is needed It's not microcontent just because it's small!
  7. 7. 7 Four Principles of Intelligent Microcontent Focus Context Structure Function
  8. 8. 8 Focus • Microcontent must be about only one subject • Allows content to operate as building blocks of information • "Every Page is Page One"
  9. 9. 9 Focus • Where would you look for information about unplanned absences? • Unfocused content has a poor “information scent”
  10. 10. 10 Focus Information about hours of work Requirement for unplanned absences Information about lunch breaks Requirement for planned absences
  11. 11. 11 Function • Microcontent must be typed to identify user intent • Precision Content information types • Reference • Task • Concept • Process • Principle • "Information is what information does"
  12. 12. 12 Function Reference information Principle information
  13. 13. 13 Structure • Microcontent must use predictable patterns and language • Structured authoring • Systematic labelling • Modular, topic-based architecture • Constrained writing environments • Separation of content and form Source: The DITA Style Guide – Best Practices for Authors. Tony Self. www.ditastyle.com
  14. 14. 14 What it means to be “unstructured”
  15. 15. 15 Structure Topic title begins with noun Topic title begins with verb
  16. 16. 16 Context • Microcontent must be easily relatable to other content • Microcontent is designed to fit within a larger ecosystem of information
  17. 17. 17 Context
  18. 18. 18 Four Principles of Intelligent Microcontent Focus Context Structure Function
  19. 19. Making the Migration
  20. 20. 20 Stakeholder interviews • We identified other topics we would want through stakeholder interviews • Who we interviewed: • HR Director • President • Accounting and HR Manager • Managing Director
  21. 21. 21 Reuse analysis • We analyzed our content for places where we could leverage DITA’s reuse features • The employee handbook content set was small enough that we could do this easily • For large content sets, reuse analysis should be done programmatically
  22. 22. 22 We reused “leave request” task information How DITA’s reuse features work
  23. 23. 23 How DITA’s reuse features work
  24. 24. 24 If you want … then the solution is a … exact matches custom XQuery script with hash functions fuzzy matches third party content analysis tool such as DCL, Stilo Reuse analysis methods Image source: “Introduction to Stemming and Lemmatization (NLP). Prateek Sawhney. https://tinyurl.com/msey55du
  25. 25. 25 What does the reuse analysis script do? 1 • Generate a database from the content set 2 • Map text strings to the number of times they appear 3 • Gather information of each text string (such as its file name, manual name, and word count, etc.) 4 • Generate a report in CSV format
  26. 26. 26 Refer an employee Employee referral bonus amounts Employee referral bonus pay schedule Opting-out of employee benefits Opting-into employee benefits Grouping content Pay date Policies for resolving payroll errors Bonuses Terminations Income tax documents Resignations Exit interviews Employee benefit eligibility Pay stubs
  27. 27. 27 Refer an employee Employee referral bonus amounts Employee referral bonus pay schedule Terminations Opting-out of employee benefits Opting-into employee benefits Grouping content Resignations Exit interviews Pay date Policies for resolving payroll errors Income tax documents Bonuses Employee information Payment information Employee benefit eligibility Pay stubs
  28. 28. 28 Refer an employee Employee referral bonus amounts Employee referral bonus pay schedule Opting-out of employee benefits Opting-into employee benefits Grouping content Pay date Policies for resolving payroll errors Bonuses Terminations Income tax documents Resignations Exit interviews Employee benefit eligibility Pay stubs
  29. 29. 29 Refer an employee Employee referral bonus amounts Employee referral bonus pay schedule Employee benefit eligibility Opting-out of employee benefits Opting-into employee benefits Grouping content Pay stubs Pay date Policies for resolving payroll errors Bonuses Terminations Income tax documents Resignations Exit interviews Employee exit Employee benefits Payroll and compensation Employee referral policy
  30. 30. 30 We drafted an outline for all our topics
  31. 31. 31 Columns in our outline • Section • Person • Heading Level • Information Type • Purpose • Map Name • File Name • Scope • Type • Variant
  32. 32. 32 Section Work hour limits Person Pei Heading Level H3 Information Type Reference Purpose Give the maximum hours employees can work per day. Map Name HRFT_MAP_Y58BCD_00_YourWorkEnvironment.ditamap File Name HRFT_REF_W09446_00_WorkHourLimits.dita Example topic in our outline
  33. 33. 33 How we tackled this as a team • For each topic in our outline, we created a DITA file in our component content management system (CCMS) • We divvied our topics among the three of us using DITA maps • Each team member edited and rewrote content in Oxygen XML Editor • Our CCMS let us set up automatic workflows
  34. 34. 34 Content suitable for a CCMS… • Has a lifecycle • Receives incremental changes • Has a required workflow • Is the responsibility of a team • Is assembled from smaller pieces • Has statuses that need to be tracked (e.g., draft, expired, active) • Will be reused • Could be translated
  35. 35. 35 How information types inform writing style • Semantic structure of topics and blocks • Rules for titles • Rules for short descriptions • Writing style for voice and tense • Specific authoring models
  36. 36. 36 Strategic rewrites
  37. 37. 38 Issue tracking • We then moved our issues into a spreadsheet • Here, we categorized issues by nature and status
  38. 38. 39 Content governance • Originally, there wasn’t a clear strategy in place for updating or maintaining the content • All content updates were sent to one specific employee • What we needed from a governance strategy • Regularly scheduled revisions • Clearly defined roles
  39. 39. 40 Yearly meetings • We established yearly meetings with HR and senior leadership • Changes to the employee handbook can be proposed at any time • Every year, we review the proposals and choose which ones to implement • Changes can happen immediately if they are the result of federal or provincial law
  40. 40. 41 Unlocked benefits of microcontent • Content is ready to be quickly transformed into other formats • We can “Create Once, Publish Everywhere” (COPE) • Topics can be reused rather than rewritten • Our content can act as a “single source of truth” • The CCMS allows for much smoother collaboration • Automated workflows makes governing the content lifecycle easier • Our content is now written according to a (micro)content standard • Our microcontent can fuel AI-powered conversational interfaces
  41. 41. 42 Microcontent to Chatbot
  42. 42. 43 Microcontent to PowerPoint
  43. 43. 44 Conclusion By paying close attention to the • focus • function • structure, and • context of the content, we have improved its usability and potential.
  44. 44. Thank you! Come work with us at PrecisionContent.com/careers

Editor's Notes

  • Precision Content is a consultancy specializing in end-to-end services for technical communications.
    We provide services in writer training, content strategy, information architecture, content lifecycle management, systems integration, and content publishing.

    We use our expertise in microcontent and structured authoring with DITA/XML to empower our clients across a variety of industries to modernize their content. [click]
  • [Image – “Hours of Work” section from the old handbook]
    [Image – The series of briefer microcontent topics in the updated handbook. “Work Hour Limits,” “Time Tracking Requirement,” “Your Work Environment,” etc.

    Image credit: https://www.gettyimages.ca/detail/photo/young-wirehaired-dachshund-sniffing-around-seen-royalty-free-image/1267668199

  • [Image – “Hours of Work” section from the old handbook]
    [Image – The series of briefer microcontent topics in the updated handbook. “Work Hour Limits,” “Time Tracking Requirement,” “Your Work Environment,” etc.
  • [Image – highlight both reference and principle information in the original employee handbook topic “Hours of Work”]
    [Image – show two separate topics (with type info, if possible) that were broken out of the single mixed-function topic “Hours of Work”]
  • (Maybe what I can do for this is go on Heretto, find a topic, then delete the headings and paragraph breaks and such and use that as my example of “unstructured” content)  Maybe “Hours of work” from the old employee handbook compared to the rewritten passage in the new one

    Link to old employee handbook: https://ascan.sharepoint.com/CorpCommunications/Forms/AllItems.aspx?id=%2FCorpCommunications%2FPrecision%20Content%20Employee%20Handbook%2Epdf&parent=%2FCorpCommunications

    Look at some of the other PCAS microcontent presentations for some stuff about what we mean by structure. In fact, use material from those presentations throughout your talk.
  • [Image – old task topic title]
    [Image – new task topic title, rewritten to start with a verb]
  • [Image – screenshot of Word document version of old employee handbook]
    [Image – screenshot of Heretto map-topic view of same topics pictured in previous image]
  • [One slide before this to reiterate the 4 principles]

    (Why did we choose those particular people?)
    (What did we learn from these interviews?)

    These were the people who were responsible for the original employee handbook.
  • Slide from “Presentation-reuse” in SharePoint
  • Slide from “Presentation-reuse” on SharePoint
  • This slide is the first demonstration of how you could group things. The next slide will use the real groupings.
  • Link to that outline: PCAS Handbook Inventory.xlsx

    We started by listing what we had, identifying gaps, then reorganizing things
  • The File Name is constructed from Scope, Type, Variant
  • From "A Fit for Microcontent“

    (Look at Pei and Kathryn’s omnichannel talk. They have a slide about this. Called “Presentation-v2.pptx”)
  • We had to rewrite some of the content so that it could work in a modular, microcontent architecture.

    Here, we changed the title. We used bullet points. We put information into a table.
  • We used this spreadsheet to track our issues. We categorized them by their nature and status.

    Link to the outstanding issues document: September 2021 Outstanding Issues List.xlsx
  • We used this spreadsheet to track our issues. We started from the Word document. We categorized the issues by their nature and status.

    Link to the outstanding issues document: September 2021 Outstanding Issues List.xlsx
  • Slide from “Precision Content – Products & Services 2021” https://ascan.sharepoint.com/:p:/r/brand/_layouts/15/Doc.aspx?sourcedoc=%7B1C429FFD-6346-461E-B9C3-45FDD30C3B34%7D&file=Precision%20Content%20-%20Products%20%26%20Services%202021.pptx&action=edit&mobileredirect=true&DefaultItemOpen=1
  • Slide from “Precision Content – Products & Services 2021” https://ascan.sharepoint.com/:p:/r/brand/_layouts/15/Doc.aspx?sourcedoc=%7B1C429FFD-6346-461E-B9C3-45FDD30C3B34%7D&file=Precision%20Content%20-%20Products%20%26%20Services%202021.pptx&action=edit&mobileredirect=true&DefaultItemOpen=1

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