New FrameMaker user’s guide: sliced, diced, and enhanced

v2_fm_iconOver the years, many of you from the FrameMaker community shared rich feedback on the content and structure of the FrameMaker user’s guide. We’ve been listening and we’ve spent several busy months acting on the feedback to create an improved user’s guide that meets your content requirements better.

So, what exactly has changed? As we analyzed your feedback, some key themes emerged:

  • Content organization: FrameMaker is a powerful product packed with rich functionality. However, not all users use all of its functionality all the time. While improving the guide, we made a conscious attempt to minimize scattering of information and keep content around related features together. For example, information about using structured authoring features forms two neat chapters in the new user’s guide. This information was spread across several chapters in the earlier user’s guide.
  • Workflow-based approach: The new user’s guide makes it easier for you to just get things done. We’ve tried to step into your shoes and figure out what information you’d need and in what order. That you’d shared useful feedback over the years made our job a lot easier. So, whether it’s managing graphics or single-sourcing content, we walk you through relevant concepts and tasks in an order congruent with FrameMaker workflows. With apologies to Coleridge, might we say, the best content in the best order?
  • Responsive content experience: Content experience is two words—content and experience. We know you’re connected 24/7 and that you access instructional content on your devices. On your desktop, the new FrameMaker user’s guide opens in a little content viewer app of its own. When you access the content on a smaller screen, it is displayed in a responsive layout, ensuring a seamless content experience.

    Viewing the new FrameMaker user’s guide on a smartphone

  • Visual treatment: Wherever possible, we’ve tried to pull down the wall of words that traditional documentation is. So, as you glance through the new user’s guide, expect to see visuals and illustrations that help demystify a complex concept or task. Not sure how you can publish across multiple channels? Well, see it for yourself.
  • Discoverability: You turn to the user’s guide trying to find answers to questions that are blocking your everyday work. That’s why we kept titles in the new user’s guide crisp and the content search-friendly. So, whether you search on Adobe.com or Google, you can expect to find a useful Help article that helps you get back to your work as quickly as possible.
  • Resource ecosystem: We want the new user’s guide to be more than just your first stop for information on everything FrameMaker. We want it to be also the launchpad that propels you to other, often advanced, sources of information on the web. Hop right over to the appendix at the end to view a list of select FrameMaker resources. We promise to keep the list updated as more resources become available.

What we place in your hands today is just the version one of the improved user’s guide. Your feedback has helped us get it to this stage, and your feedback will be pivotal as we try to refine it even further. Keep the wishlists coming; we’re making a careful note of them.

And now that we’ve said enough, here are the links to the new guide:

HTML: http://help.adobe.com/en_US/FrameMaker/12.0/Help/Using/index.html
PDF: http://help.adobe.com/en_US/FrameMaker/12.0/Help/using-framemaker-12.pdf

Happy reading!

A practical introduction to Web analytics for technical communicators

What analytics parameters do you rely on to track the performance of your technical content?

At the STC India Conference earlier this month; my colleague, Vikrant Rai, and I presented a session that discussed some key content-related parameters. Here is the slidedeck:

Localizing Images: Cultural Aspects and Visual Metaphors

In May 2011, I had the opportunity to deliver a session titled Localizing Images: Cultural Aspects and Visual Metaphors at the STC Technical Communication Summit in Sacramento, California. It was a great experience speaking on this topic to a predominantly American audience, since there was cultural exchange happening right from the word Go.

A variation of the session was also accepted on the program for the 2011 STC India Conference. I was looking forward to traveling to Chennai to present the session on December 3. Unfortunately, a middle ear infection played spoilsport and the doctor forbade me from flying for at least a couple of weeks. My colleague, Nandini Gupta, then graciously agreed to present the session on my behalf.

A slide deck for the session is embedded below:

Localizing Images: Cultural Aspects and Visual Metaphors

You can download an audio recording of my session at the STC Summit from this link (~9 MB). The recording should be used in conjunction with the slide deck.
There’s more! The paper (accompanying this session) published in the Proceedings of the conference is embedded below. Happy reading!

Localizing Images: Cultural Aspects and Visual Metaphors

Join me at STC Summit 2011

I’m excited to share that I’ll be part of STC Summit 2011, presenting the following two sessions:

A session summary for the second session is available from the STC Learning Center. If you want to read it right away, download the PDF from this URL.

I look forward to meeting you at the Summit!

RoboHelp Server: An introduction

As technical communicators, one of our key responsibilities is to optimize the value of the user-assistance content that we deliver. What defines the value of content? I focus on the following key indicators:

  • The topics should be search-optimized and populated with the right keywords. Users should be able to reach the right topics when they search using the relevant keywords (if not close to relevant keywords!).
  • Once users reach a topic, they should be able to quickly find answers to the most pertinent questions that they have in that product area.
  • Based on the Web traffic details for a topic, key documentation areas must be identified and optimized.

For optimizing content in alignment with these indicators, we need specific information about our users’ content access patterns. This is where RoboHelp Server proves valuable as a powerful application for hosting, tracking, and managing RoboHelp output in multiple formats.

The many reports that RoboHelp Server provides help identify how users navigate user-assistance content and the product areas where this content needs to be strengthened:

  • Search Terms with No Results: Search terms that returned no results and the number of times users searched for them
  • Frequently Searched Terms: Frequently-searched keywords and how many times users searched for them
  • Frequently Accessed CSH: Frequently-accessed context-sensitive Help topics and how many times they are accessed. The report is arranged by the context IDs of the CSH topics.
  • Frequently Viewed Topics: Report on Topics that end users view most often
  • Usage Statistics: Chronological graphical report of the number of hits to the Help system as a whole. Pages searched for and not opened reflect in this list. The usage statistics report has three additional tabs:
  • Page Views: Number of pages viewed over a given window of time. The window of time is determined by the labels along the X axis.
  • Pages Per Visit: Number of pages viewed per visit. Every instance when a user opens the project is considered as a separate visit. Visits from different Web browsers are counted separately.
    • Browser: Comparative data about the Web browsers in which users viewed the Help content
    • OS: Comparative data about the operating systems on which users viewed the Help content
  • Search Trends: The percentage of search terms that returned no results. The detailed view of this report gives the total number of search terms and how many of them returned results/no results.
  • Help System Errors: Error messages encountered by the current logged-in user

Ankur Jain, Adobe’s product manager for RoboHelp, shares his perspective of the business relevance of these reports in an excellent blog post titled, Create What They Want to Read.

For the while, I’ll leave you with some other insightful community content for RoboHelp Server:

Explore these links and do come back later for more information and tips. Happy reading!