The first Saturday in October, Adobe TCS assembled an impressive array of thought leaders and topics to present what was essentially a “demo-free” industry trend overview. This blog gives an overview of key points from presentations, as well as photos to give you a feel for the event. We had a “full house” at the Portland, OR, Hilton, and brought in extra chairs, in spite of the Portland Marathon being kicked off.
Now, More than Ever, Why We Need to Create Structured Content
Scott Abel (aka “The Content Wrangler”) touched on several significant reasons why structured content is critical to make many projects possible. Abel shared an example of an App developer who had recently attended a content strategy conference and made it clear that she could swiftly create an app based on “attribute rich” structured data, even if she were not a subject matter in the content. The alternative would be for the App developer to immerse herself in information from SMEs and eventually grasp all the nuances of the subject before constructing an App over several months.
The increased consumption of content in a variety of forms on ever increasing platforms is yet another compelling reason for structured (DITA/XML) content, according to Abel.
Developing a Technical Communication Content Strategy
Sarah O’Keefe, Founder, Scriptorium Publishing, delivered an original spin on content strategy using chocolate as a theme (including bunnies with and without ears.) As shown in the photo to the right, she also covered regulatory issues as well as other factors that can affect or influence successful product release. Sarah’s recent book Content Strategy 101, was given to each attendee.
One of Sarah’s slides summarized some of the main costs of bad content:
- High call volume to tech support
- Product return; lost sales
- Regulatory submission delayed or rejected
- Contradicts marketing
- Huge globalization costs
- Content duplication
Multi-screen Help Authoring: How to Deal with the Explosion in Device Sizes
Joe Welinske, President, WritersUA, provided useful guidance through a seemingly endless combination of source files and output formats plus new delivery platforms like tablets and mobile. Joe used a variety of visual guides (including live videocam feeds from a tablet and smartphone) to illustrate his point.
His slide to the right showed how daunting the matrix of deliverables can seem to be.
Are you Global Ready?
Val Swisher, Founder, Content Rules, covered the myriad content strategy issues surrounding globalization and localization challenges.
Drawing from her many years of consulting experience, Val made some key points:
- If you write flabby copy, even the nicest vendors will gladly mail you a bill for localization that will astound you
- Your translation memory belongs to you; some translation vendors are happy to hang on to it for an “exclusive” relationship
- Real copy editors don’t do it without a terminology manager
- Creative writing for critical content is a myth. You must standardize
Mark Lewis, Content Strategist, DITA Educator at Quark, shared some highly original ways to determine Return-on-Investment and Total-Cost-of-Ownership for content that is migrated into DITA.
The Author of DITA 101 covered “traditional” metrics first, then a new approach to determine the actual cost or worth of reusable portions of documentation.
Questions from attendees made it clear that many present were either in transition into DITA structure, or seeking a way to get their in stage. A lively discussion ensued.
Insights into the future of content strategy from the “smartest people” in the room
Adobe Day ended with a panel of though leaders who took questions from the floor, ranging from “what are the biggest barriers to migration to structure” to “what tools should I master to ensure career success.”
A Recommended Solution
Although Adobe’s product was never specifically mentioned, there were many instances in which Adobe Technical Communication Suite 4 was an obvious solution. TCS4 combines FrameMaker 11 for unstructured or DITA/XML authoring and RoboHelp 10 for publishing to ePUB and HTML5 format, as well as traditional output like WebHelp.