What is Web Content Management Anyway?


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Presented at DocTrain East 2007 by Kimberly Williams-Czopek -- The days of paper-based technical documentation are quickly coming to an end. Organizations are implementing enterprise wide content management systems at a rapid pace to improve time-to-market content and customer satisfaction. Your organization might not be there yet, but it will get there. How are you going to keep up?

This session is geared towards those who want to learn how to expand their skill set and writing techniques to address the emerging technologies associated with web-based documentation and communication. We’ll cover:

* Writing for the web
* Usability principles for easier online reading
* Content management system buzzwords that you need to understand
* How your current skills can easily translate in the new (content) world order
* Your role in content management initiatives.

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  • What is Web Content Management Anyway?

    1. 1. What is Web Content Management Anyway? Kim Williams-Czopek COO Duo Consulting
    2. 2. About Duo Consulting <ul><li>Based in Chicago </li></ul><ul><li>Content management experts since 1999; focus on WebCM & web-based custom application development </li></ul><ul><li>Dedicated staff in content strategy, information architecture, interaction design, development and project management </li></ul><ul><li>Representative clients: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>CareerBuilder.com </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>American Library Association </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Chicago Public School System </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>United Way </li></ul></ul>
    3. 3. Career Path <ul><li>Started career as technical writer (paper-based) </li></ul><ul><li>Continuing education and on-the-job experience allowed addition of information architecture and instructional design expertise (paper and electronic) </li></ul><ul><li>Leveraged technical knowledge and writing and ID/IA skills (and natural tendency for bossiness) into project management </li></ul><ul><li>Currently COO of Duo Consulting and pursing MS in Organizational Leadership & Psychology </li></ul>
    4. 4. What is Content Management? Content Management is Your Solution Working Smarter and More Creatively Globalization Publishing Compliance Assets Versioning Archiving Syndication Search Check In/ Check/Out Authoring Editorial Localization Meta Data
    5. 5. What is the business case for a CMS? <ul><li>Increase Efficiency </li></ul><ul><li>Decrease operating costs </li></ul><ul><li>Ensure consistency </li></ul><ul><li>Increase clarity </li></ul><ul><li>Spend time on writing and creative problem-solving </li></ul>Content Reuse Library Services Brand Consistency Content Repurpose Workflow Structured Content Content Repository
    6. 6. Content Management Systems Enable… Content Repurposing Distributed Authoring and Workflow Centralized Asset Management Globalization/Localization
    7. 7. So, What IS Content Management? <ul><li>Content Management System (definition) </li></ul><ul><li>Computer or web-based program used to manage large amounts of content published to many places and in many formats. </li></ul><ul><li>Content management systems support the creation, management, distribution, publishing of content. </li></ul><ul><li>Content management systems are typically either asset-based or page-based and employ a defined publishing model. </li></ul><ul><li>So what is WEB content management? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>If the tool you are using now (or will be using) to develop documentation and training material allows online publication, you are using a web content management system </li></ul></ul>
    8. 8. Other Areas of WCM <ul><li>What else falls into Web Content Management? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Intranet/Extranet content </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Blogs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Wikis </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>RSS Feeds </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Tagging </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Email (transactional) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Video </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Podcasts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Animation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Community-Driven Content Contribution Systems </li></ul></ul>
    9. 9. Your Role in WCM Projects <ul><li>YOU can be the hero! </li></ul><ul><li>You are professional communicators </li></ul><ul><li>You know your audience </li></ul><ul><li>You know how your content works now </li></ul><ul><li>You have the skills even if you don’t know you do </li></ul>
    10. 10. Skill Set Translated <ul><li>Writing style revisited </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A CMS allows for structured content stored in a central repository, writing “chunks” rather then narrative is required </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Information architecture more prominent </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Focus on overall system consistency and flow </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Information design at the forefront </li></ul><ul><ul><li>New rules and opportunities for layout, color, typography, etc. to further end-user comprehension and usability </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Screen/Browser/System compatibility a new consideration </li></ul><ul><ul><li>No paper! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Automated testing tools </li></ul></ul>
    11. 11. Working towards a final deliverable Writing Information Architecture Information Design
    12. 12. Writing for the Web (or any online channel) <ul><li>Move away from narrative approach into a structured/modular/chunk/microcontent approach </li></ul><ul><li>Microcontent </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Specific “chunks” of content that assist a user in navigating an interface and/or are typically reused in other delivery channels. Includes page titles, headlines, subheads, indexes, navigation labels, links, alt text, captions, meta data </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Chunking/Structured/Modular content </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Reducing/editing a long piece of content into “chunks” to fit into the framework of the CMS. Typically centered around topics or categories of content. </li></ul></ul>
    13. 13. Heuristics - Writing for the Web <ul><li>Edit and cut as much as possible while keeping original meaning in place </li></ul><ul><li>Keep links to less than 3 words </li></ul><ul><li>Use a tone appropriate and resonating with your audience </li></ul><ul><li>Do write content with the task and purpose in mind; including the reader’s environment and/or activity while using the content </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t forget that users share content easily online; write with that in mind </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t forget the point of a CMS is content reuse and repurposing. Imagine each piece of content written in different forms of delivery: on-screen, via email, RSS feed, etc. </li></ul>
    14. 14. Tools/Approaches <ul><li>Web Content Management System </li></ul><ul><li>Any text editor </li></ul><ul><li>Paper </li></ul><ul><li>Spreadsheet application </li></ul>
    15. 16. Comparison Turn left to merge onto Everett Turnpike/I-293 S/RT-3A S toward Boston/Nashua Continue to follow Everett Turnpike Partial toll road Entering Massachusetts
    16. 17. Comparison Turn left at the “Everett Turnpike I-293 S/Route 3A toward Boston/Nashua” sign.
    17. 18. Information Architecture <ul><li>The art and science of organizing information so that it is findable, manageable and useful </li></ul><ul><li>Consistency </li></ul><ul><li>System status & visibility </li></ul><ul><li>Error prevention </li></ul><ul><li>Error recovery </li></ul><ul><li>Context </li></ul>
    18. 19. Heuristics – Information Architecture <ul><li>Always make sure the user knows where they are, where they came from, how to go back and what their options are for moving on </li></ul><ul><li>Consistency is key: make sure you use the same words, acronyms, terminology and conventions throughout the system; </li></ul><ul><li>Enumerate steps </li></ul><ul><li>Use lists wherever possible and practical to facilitate grouping of similar information </li></ul><ul><li>Recognition over recall; ensure all necessary information, or access to necessary information, is visible and one step away </li></ul><ul><li>Remember that people can arrive at information in a number of ways (sent a link, through a search, browsing, etc.) so you can’t assume they are taking a prescribed path to the final destination </li></ul>
    19. 20. Tools/Approaches <ul><li>Card-sorting </li></ul><ul><li>Site mapping </li></ul><ul><li>Mind mapping </li></ul><ul><li>Focus groups </li></ul><ul><li>Competitive/Analogous information research </li></ul>
    20. 21. Not so good Much better
    21. 22. Comparison Turn left to merge onto Everett Turnpike/I-293 S/RT-3A S toward Boston/Nashua Continue to follow Everett Turnpike Partial toll road Entering Massachusetts
    22. 23. Comparison go back to Step 1 Step 2. Turn left when you see the Everett Turnpike sign. go to Step 3 Need help? Click here. Click to enter a new address
    23. 24. Information Design <ul><li>Layout and design of content and information architecture to enable easy scanning, understanding, and consumption </li></ul><ul><li>Users don’t read online, they scan </li></ul><ul><ul><li>SCANNABLE information design is key </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Typography is a tool </li></ul><ul><li>Graphics can illustrate complexity </li></ul><ul><li>Linking and web technologies leveraged to allow better access to information </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Linking, pop-overs, roll overs, rich media </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Layout scalable to resolution and/or device </li></ul>
    24. 25. Heuristics – Information Design <ul><li>Use graphics and visuals to illustrate complicated steps or examples </li></ul><ul><li>Use typography consistency, and with purpose to allow for content scanning </li></ul><ul><li>Consider using “roll-overs” or “pop overs” for easy access to definitions, quick reference or additional information on the same screen as primary content </li></ul><ul><li>Highlight new or updated information in “living” systems </li></ul><ul><li>Design to specific screen resolution and browser and “degrade gracefully” </li></ul><ul><li>XML should take care of device-specific content delivery (but test) </li></ul><ul><li>Do not try to innovate unless you are dealing with a new and different piece of information that calls for it. Even then, do your homework. </li></ul>
    25. 26. Tools/Approaches <ul><li>Content mapping </li></ul><ul><li>Wireframes (lo-fi and hi-fi) </li></ul><ul><li>Rapid prototyping </li></ul><ul><li>Task validation testing </li></ul>
    26. 27. Lo-fi wireframe Hi-fi wireframe
    27. 28. Roll-over example
    28. 29. Comparison Turn left to merge onto Everett Turnpike/I-293 S/RT-3A S toward Boston/Nashua Continue to follow Everett Turnpike Partial toll road Entering Massachusetts
    29. 30. Comparison <<go back to last Step Step 2 . Turn left when you see . go to next Step>> HELP>> From Address: To Address:
    30. 31. Screen, Browser and System Compatibility <ul><li>Manual testing </li></ul><ul><li>Automated testing </li></ul><ul><ul><li>BrowserCam </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>browsercam.com </li></ul></ul>
    31. 32. A Few References <ul><li>http://www.useit.com </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.webreference.com/content/writing/ </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.alistapart.com/ </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.techwr-l.com/ </li></ul>
    32. 33. <ul><li>Questions?? </li></ul>Duo Consulting – Web Content Management Experts Kim Williams-Czopek COO – Duo Consulting [email_address]