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Every page is page one (www1214)

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The version of the Every Page is Page One presentation given to the Wellington Waterloo Webmakers, Dec 10, 2014 at the Symposium Cafe in Guelph, Ontario.

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Every page is page one (www1214)

  1. 1. Every Page is Page One Mark Baker Analecta Communications Inc.
  2. 2. The book  Every Page is Page One: Topic-based Writing for Technical Communication and the Web  XML Press  http://xmlpress.net /publications/eppo Content Creation, Content Engineering, Content Strategy 2
  3. 3. Who said…  “Learners … often skip over crucial material if it does not address their current task-oriented concern or skip around among several manuals, composing their own ersatz instructional procedure on the fly.” Content Creation, Content Engineering, Content Strategy 3
  4. 4. John Carroll  The Nunrberg Funnel  1990  Users hopping around from one source to another did not start with the Web Content Creation, Content Engineering, Content Strategy 4
  5. 5. The sequencing problem  Many sequencing problems reside not in the material alone but in the learner’s use of it. When people refer to instruction opportunistically in support of their own goal-directed activities, it becomes difficult or impossible to predict what sequencing will be appropriate… John Carroll, The Nurnberg Funnel, 1990 Content Creation, Content Engineering, Content Strategy 5
  6. 6. Eliminate sequence  A radical approach to sequencing problems is to try to eliminate sequence: materials designed to be read in any order cannot be read in the wrong order. … The orderly accumulation of prerequisite skill and understanding that can be assumed when material is embedded in a sequenced curriculum cannot be assumed if learners use the material in any order they wish. But, of course, this is just what learners do anyway and is one of the key reasons that materials that depend on carefully sequenced prerequisites fail. John Carroll, The Nurnberg Funnel, 1990 Content Creation, Content Engineering, Content Strategy 6
  7. 7. Radical Then; Mainstream Now  The concept of creating unsequenced material was “radical” in 1990  Today, it is the default  The Web is not sequenced  Every Page is Page One Content Creation, Content Engineering, Content Strategy 7
  8. 8. Why “Every Page is Page One?”  On the Web, readers arrive at content  Via a Google search  Via a recommendation in a social network  Via a link from another page  There is no continuity from where they were before.  Every link leads to a new page one Content Creation, Content Engineering, Content Strategy 8
  9. 9. Even when not on the Web  People search the Web  When watching TV or movies  When reading books  When reading billboards  When reading menus  There is nothing holding the reader to your content anymore Content Creation, Content Engineering, Content Strategy 9
  10. 10. John Carroll anticipated this  “Escaping these problems and providing for material to be sensibly read in any order, necessitates a different approach to organizing instruction. It requires a high degree of modularity, a structure of small self-contained units.” Content Creation, Content Engineering, Content Strategy 10
  11. 11. But …  Not every page works well as page one Content Creation, Content Engineering, Content Strategy 11
  12. 12. Jump into the middle  The page is in the middle of something  Reader has to back up to find start of the thread  It may be a “topic,” but it assumes sequence Content Creation, Content Engineering, Content Strategy 12
  13. 13. On the Web but Not of the Web  Putting a PDF or a tri-pane help system on your Website does not create Web-like content.  Native Web content does not look like this.  Native Web content is not sequential  Readers don’t stick to one site. They hop around the whole Web Content Creation, Content Engineering, Content Strategy 13
  14. 14. How you think your content appears on the Web
  15. 15. How your content actually appears on the Web.
  16. 16. Home page obsolete  “As more and more traffic comes from search and social, the homepage as the entryway into a site’s content is increasingly obsolete,” -- Ann Friedman, Columbia Journalism Review in 2013 Content Creation, Content Engineering, Content Strategy 16
  17. 17. Pyrrhic victory  Control of the homepage often represents a pyrrhic victory for traditional marketers and communicators. I recently heard a communicator say that the homepage was one of the few places where they controlled the message. For this organization, only 10% of site visitors came to the homepage and for every 100 people who arrived at the homepage, only 3 clicked on a news link. Thus, controlling the homepage is only the illusion of controlling the message. – Gerry McGovern Content Creation, Content Engineering, Content Strategy 17
  18. 18. Writers in denial  Many writers are in denial about the power of Web search.  “too many false hits”  “too much stuff to wade through”  “takes too long to find things”  “content is unreliable”  “easier to find things in a book with a well prepared index” Content Creation, Content Engineering, Content Strategy 18
  19. 19. So why do users prefer to search the Web? Content Creation, Content Engineering, Content Strategy 19 Photo: Steven Straiton/Wikimedia Commons
  20. 20. Scope  Searching the Web is not like searching the index of one book  It is like searching the index of every book, letter, article, and conversation in the world  Index search only begins when you have found the right book  Finding the right book is expensive Content Creation, Content Engineering, Content Strategy 20
  21. 21. The Long Tail  Many low demand items account for as much total demand as a few high demand items.  Amazon makes a lot of money from the long tail of items regular stores can’t stock Content Creation, Content Engineering, Content Strategy 21
  22. 22. The Long Tail Content Creation, Content Engineering, Content Strategy 22
  23. 23. Manual doesn’t cover long tail  Manual has only high demand items  Users often need specific items from the low demand set  They don’t know which items are low demand  The Web has it all Content Creation, Content Engineering, Content Strategy 23
  24. 24. Information Foraging Content Creation, Content Engineering, Content Strategy 24 Photo: Amanda Lea, Wikimedia Commons
  25. 25. Information foraging  “Information foraging predicts that the easier it is to find good patches, the quicker users will leave a patch. Thus, the better search engines get at highlighting quality sites, the less time users will spend on any one site.” Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox: June 30, 2003 Information Foraging: Why Google Makes People Leave Your Site Faster Content Creation, Content Engineering, Content Strategy 25
  26. 26. Information snacking  The growth of always-on broadband connections also encourages this trend toward shorter visits. With dial-up, connecting to the Internet is somewhat difficult, and users mainly do it in big time chunks. In contrast, always-on connections encourage information snacking , where users go online briefly, looking for quick answers. Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox: June 30, 2003 Information Foraging: Why Google Makes People Leave Your Site Faster Content Creation, Content Engineering, Content Strategy 26
  27. 27. Experience vs. credentials “Now the technology lets you find experienced people as easily as credentialed ones.” Beth Noveck, Director of the Open Government Initiative Quoted by David Weinberger in To Big to Know Content Creation, Content Engineering, Content Strategy 27
  28. 28. Collegiality “Links are the visible manifestation of the author giving up any claim to completeness or even sufficiency; links invite the reader to browse the network in which the work is enmeshed, an acknowledgement that thinking is something that we do together.” David Weinberger: To Big to Know Content Creation, Content Engineering, Content Strategy 28
  29. 29. Include it all. Filter is afterward. Content Creation, Content Engineering, Content Strategy 29 “We seem to be making a cultural choice---with our new infrastructure's thumb heavily on the scale---to prefer to start with abundance rather than curation. Include it all. Filter it afterward. Even then, the filters do not remove anything; they filter forward, not out.” David Weinberger: Too Big to Know
  30. 30. Filter it afterward  The Web is a filter  We can filter it for ourselves  Google  And with our friends  LinkedIn  Facebook  Twitter  Etc. Content Creation, Content Engineering, Content Strategy 30
  31. 31. Filter it socially Content Creation, Content Engineering, Content Strategy 31
  32. 32. Authority is shifting “If our social networks are our new filters, then authority is shifting from experts in faraway offices to the network of people we know, like, and respect.” Too Big to Know Content Creation, Content Engineering, Content Strategy 32
  33. 33. Individual journey  Readers make their individual journey through a Web of information  Our content is one resource they may visit on that journey  But wherever they enter our content, it should act as page one Content Creation, Content Engineering, Content Strategy 33
  34. 34. One Journey, Many Vehicles Content Creation, Content Engineering, Content Strategy 34
  35. 35. Shared vehicles; unique trips  Many different vehicles  Each functions independently  I chose the sequence to create a unique journey  The airplane design does not depend on my arriving by taxi  The subway works the same if I take the stairs, not the escalator Content Creation, Content Engineering, Content Strategy 35
  36. 36. No guided tour  Readers are self directed  We have always known most readers don’t take the guided tour  They skip and scan and look stuff up  Now they can self direct across the entire Web  To serve them, provide EPPO topics Content Creation, Content Engineering, Content Strategy 36
  37. 37. The book model  Books provide the guided tour as primary means  Linear book  Support self-guided as secondary means  Scanable subheads  Index Content Creation, Content Engineering, Content Strategy 37
  38. 38. The site model  Home page is the start of the user experience  Site navigation elements structure the experience  More random access than a book, but still a closed world Content Creation, Content Engineering, Content Strategy 38
  39. 39. The EPPO model  EPPO topics support self-guided as primary means  Every pages works as page one  Works with search, social curation  Works with external resources  Can still provide a guided tour as a secondary means  Ordered topic collections  Can include external resources Content Creation, Content Engineering, Content Strategy 39
  40. 40. At the crossroads  Try to reclaim the order and certainty of the book world, or cooperate in the linked ecology of the web with its social approach to authority and its fuzzy edges? Content Creation, Content Engineering, Content Strategy 40
  41. 41. EXAMPLES Content Creation, Content Engineering, Content Strategy 41
  42. 42. Stack Overflow  Python shelve OutOfMemory error Content Creation, Content Engineering, Content Strategy 42
  43. 43. CHARACTERISTICS OF EPPO TOPICS Content Creation, Content Engineering, Content Strategy 43
  44. 44. Self Contained  High level of cohesion  No linear dependencies  Never assumes you have read X  May assume you know X  May require different types of information “blocks” Content Creation, Content Engineering, Content Strategy 44
  45. 45. Self-contained?  Black Forest Ham and Gruyère Frittata 45 Self-contained
  46. 46. Specific Limited Purpose  Must have a clear idea of the purpose it fulfills for the reader  Purpose must be specific  Can’t be self contained or establish context if purpose not specific  Purpose must be limited  One vehicle in a network the reader navigates for themselves  Do one thing; do it well Content Creation, Content Engineering, Content Strategy 46
  47. 47. Not all-encompassing  Reluctant Gourmet Specific and limited purpose 47
  48. 48. Establish Context  Reader may arrive from anywhere  Search and links may be imprecise  Allow the reader to get their bearings quickly  Navigable context  If they are a little off, help them get where they should be Content Creation, Content Engineering, Content Strategy 48
  49. 49. 49 Establish context
  50. 50. Conform to type  Topics on a common subject tend to have a similar pattern  Recipes  Encyclopedia articles on cities  Car reviews  Ornithology  Product comparisons  Technical articles 1 2 3 4 Content Creation, Content Engineering, Content Strategy 50
  51. 51. 51 Conform to a type
  52. 52. Recipe  Black Forest Ham and Gruyère Frittata Content Creation, Content Engineering, Content Strategy 52
  53. 53. Car review  Subaru Forrester 2003-2008 review Content Creation, Content Engineering, Content Strategy 53
  54. 54. Ornithology  Blue-footed Booby Content Creation, Content Engineering, Content Strategy 54
  55. 55. Stay on one level  Books tend to change levels  Topics support readers choosing their own path  Readers decide when they want big picture or gritty detail  Readers change levels by changing topics  Topics stay on one level Content Creation, Content Engineering, Content Strategy 55
  56. 56. 56 Stay on one level BIG PICTURE Pathfinder Pathfinder Pathfinder Workflow Workflow Workflow Workflow Task Task Task Task Task Task
  57. 57. Assume reader is qualified  Books designed as sole source for diverse audience  Write for the least qualified reader  Often annoying for experienced reader  Topics are one stop in reader’s self-directed journey  If reader is not qualified, they can choose other topics to get qualified Content Creation, Content Engineering, Content Strategy 57
  58. 58. 58 Self-contained?  Black Forest Ham and Gruyère Frittata Assume the reader is qualified
  59. 59. Link Richly  Books are designed for linear reading  Links may be considered a distraction  Allow reader to deviate from writer’s planned course  Topics are for self directed readers  Make context navigable  Enable reader to qualify themselves  Enable switching levels  Enable onward journey Content Creation, Content Engineering, Content Strategy 59
  60. 60. Exercise: Classify this 60 Link richly
  61. 61. Link the essence of the Web  We don’t work on the homepage. We work on the network. The Web is a network and those who work on the Web are networkers. The link is the essence of the Web. Web writing is link writing. … Don’t think homepage. There’s no direction home on the Web because home changes based on the context of what people want to do. – Gerry McGovern Content Creation, Content Engineering, Content Strategy 61
  62. 62. Topics and Topic Sets  Need many topics to cover a large subject area  Create topic sets, not books  Support random entry  Establish type to ensure completeness and conformance to purpose  Support reader choice within your set  Make them work on the Web Content Creation, Content Engineering, Content Strategy 62
  63. 63. Covering the big picture 63 BIG PICTURE Pathfinder Pathfinder Pathfinder Workflow Workflow Workflow Workflow Task Task Task Task Task Task
  64. 64. The book  Every Page is Page One: Topic-based Writing for Technical Communication and the Web  XML Press  http://xmlpress.net/p ublications/eppo Content Creation, Content Engineering, Content Strategy 64
  65. 65. Questions?  Contact information  Mark Baker  Analecta Communications Inc.  mbaker@analecta.com  Twitter: @mbakeranalecta  Company: http://analecta.com  Phone: 1 226-808-1098  Blog: http://everypageispageone.com  Book: http://xmlpress.net/publications/eppo/ Content Creation, Content Engineering, Content Strategy 65

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