Posts in Category "ePubs"

Resizing Content: How to rethink content for mobile devices

I wrote on this topic back in February, but expanded on the theme for a presentation to the San Francisco chapter of STC last week.

Although it may seem self-evident that a small screen requires shorter sentences, shorter word count, etc., some customers are trying to “squeeze” existing legacy content (created for full page display, replete with complex tables and multi-level nested lists) onto mobile devices.

This blog touches on a few highlights of the presentation, which is fairly self-evident in the slide share above. Continue reading…

The 20,000 foot view: mobile content in motion vs. conference presentations

This is my first blog written in flight (thanks to “gogo” WiFi on Delta.) Flying home from WritersUA conference in Memphis has given me time to interpret and revisit what I learned in the Peabody Hotel. Being up here “in the clouds” is a bit like being at a conference. Conferences are of great value. But we’re in a slightly rarefied atmosphere, we’re exposed to a limited group of smart people, and we have distance from our workplace.

Down there on the ground, back at work after a conference, sometimes things look different. I had an interesting reality check via a short conversation with the woman who sat next to me on the first flight segment. Naturally, we exchanged where we were coming from and going to (both headed home.) She was curious about the conference, not surprisingly, as she had been furiously answering emails and completing reports on her iPad via WiFi and saving all data to drop box.

What they want “down there on the ground”

This is in no way intended to minimize any of the messages presented at the conference; all of the presentations were top drawer. But many of the presenters were consultants or professionals who visit customer sites for some length of time, help discover and implement a solution, and then fly away. The customer stays behind, “down here on the ground” and continues on with work-a-day demands.

My seat mate works in healthcare for an organization that serves many levels of personnel at all stages of medical services and procedures. After I shared some great “in the cloud” visions of how we can strategize our content, streamline our workflows, pay more attention to mobile delivery, she summed up what people down here on the ground want and need.

“You know, all of the people I’m working with just want the information on their iPhones. And they want the information displayed in a way that they can get what and where they need in three clicks.”

I asked for clarification.

“Most of them have less than 7 minutes to read whatever, a policy or a procedure. And frequently they are walking down a hallway reading and navigating with one hand. They are losing patience with the amount of text they have to drill through to get what they need.”

Continue reading…

#ICC12: Resizing Content for the Small Screen: Considerations

Much has been written or presented on the process of converting content for mobile devices and tablets. But little has been written about how we must change the way we write for delivery to a device that displays about one ninth of web or PDF content viewed on a single laptop screen.

This blog touches on a few of the points I shared in my Intelligent Content Conference 2012 (#ICC12) presentation, “Resizing Content for the Small Screen: Considerations for Single-Source Authoring for Tablet and Mobile Delivery.” Subsequent blogs and probably an enhanced conference presentation on this topic will follow. Since only two of my 34 PPT slides had been seen before, I was curious how the early riser audience would react. The participants did connect with the message; in fact a few of them missed breakfast staying for an overtime discussion.

From this …

To this

…. In just 5,000 years

  
 

 

Ironically, some of the earliest known business “documents” were composed and read on “tablets.” Some 5,000 years later, we have come full circle to tablets again, only this time they are digitally dynamic, capable of receiving up-to-the-minute correct data. Due to their small size and portability, Sumerian clay tablets held concise, to the point messages in Cuneiform. Now that we are delivering content that was written for another medium to our new, iPhone-sized “tablets”, we need to reexamine the length and relevance of what we intend to deliver.

If I were wearing my Adobe Evangelist hat and wanted to make a shameless sales pitch, I would write about the ease of swapping templates in FrameMaker and Tech Comm Suite to shape content to resemble a small screen while you write. Or comment about single-source publishing from FrameMaker via RoboHelp to a variety of ePub formats. But that’s not my mission today.

Remembering what you hear can “measure” what would effectively display on an iPhone

Colleges provide different tracks for Broadcast Journalism vs. Print Journalism. Why? Because TV or Radio news content must be substantially shorter than what is written for newspapers or magazines. (Substitute your favorite digital equivalents for the media mentioned in the previous sentence.)  Our brains can process and remember more points when visible text is present. When we process information that we hear with no supporting visible text, we can handle about one thought per sentence. And sentences must be shorter; no longer than normal speed speech with one breath. (Please don’t consider my verbal speech/speed and words per breath as a good model to follow!) Continue reading…