In this week’s installment of more Thought Leader interview’s from this year’s STC Summit, we cover a variety of topics, ranging from why documentation and UA content should be tested to why you shouldn’t ask for a “mandate” to initiate change in your content creation practices.
Joe Welinske: Testing Your Documentation
Joe Welinske shared keen insights in this area in another Adobe booth interview at STC Summit. “Unless you test your documentation, you have no idea whether it is useful or not. Most companies test everything related to their software in areas of usability.” Welinske has been able to test documentation through user surveys and he confesses that “it is a scary thought to consider… has most of this content been useful at all?”
Bernard Aschwanden: Unexpected Benefits of Structured Authoring
In this Adobe/STC interview, Bernard Aschwanden affirms “documentation exists to support the application, not just to be read.” Traditionally, we have written long procedures with a great deal of overlap, and often more information than the user is seeking. Topic-based authoring with topic, concept and task allows you to write very targeted information with a high degree of reuse. Bernard explains why updating projects is much easier to do with DITA. Topic-based authoring is much more focused, and easier to stay on target.
Mark Baker: Plug-and-Play Content
In this Adobe/STC booth interview, Mark Baker (Principal Consultant, Analecta Communications) shares new reasons why re-use with structured is so critical. “Re-use is a really important aspect of technical writing today.” Structured writing is about adding a structure to your text to make it a “query-able” set of content. We must realize that people no longer read our content in a linear order. Because content is modular and must be capable of being reordered on short notice, we need “plug-and-play” content, where all links will work when components are moved.
Kai Weber: Don’t Ask for a Mandate
In this STC/Adobe booth interview, Kai Weber shares the importance of “just doing it.” Don’t wait for management to be convinced that you can move forward on a project: create a convincing prototype you can share which makes your improvements obviously essential. “People don’t want to go to help in one system, and the online training in another system.” Find out how Kai convinced his stakeholders to go with integrated training.
Mark Lews: Content as a Database
In this Adobe/STC interview, renowned thought leader, Mark Lewis, shares keen insights into other benefits of structure. “We need to move to a point where we think of content as a database.” People are searching for things on the web and may or may not be finding what they are looking for. Think of entering a recipe, with steps, ingredients and attributes like diabetic or sugar free. When semantic information is entered during structured authoring, both the reader and writer benefit.
Watch for more episodes coming soon
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