by: Colum McAndrew
Apologies to UK poet Roger McGough for paraphrasing his poem “The Leader”.
I wanna be a Content Strategist.
I wanna be a Content Strategist.
Can I be a Content Strategist.?
Can I? I can?
Yippee I’m a Content Strategist.
I’m a Content Strategist.
OK what shall I do?
When attending a conference, I always try to summarise the themes and topics that arise as it unfolds. It’s a way for me to summarise to others who couldn’t attend what was covered. A few sound bites here, a few notes there always come in useful in that respect. The 2010 edition of the Technical Communications UK conference was no different. However despite having a formal e-Learning presentation stream running throughout, it was not this theme that caught my eye.
Recently, I had an interesting conversation about a variety of things with another technical writer. During the conversation, he kept insisting that technical communicators need to move to formats that can be viewed on mobile devices. And that we need to do that now.
My response was that this was a good idea, but not-so-good in practice. Without even waiting for me to elaborate, he called me a dinosaur and a Luddite. I called him something that was less than nice …
Let’s get this straight: when it comes to smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices I don’t fear them and I don’t hate them. In fact, I’ve been using and writing about them for longer than most.
Yes, it’s true that people are (in the words of many others) consuming more and more content on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. And, yes, you need to know your audience.
But until your customers actually start issuing those devices to employees and those employees actually use them to read documentation, then shifting to mobile formats is nothing more than a nice idea.
Building mobile-enabled documentation won’t make customers buy and deploy mobile devices. They need a bullet-proof business case before they do that. And, of course, the budget. Study after study can say that by whatever year, x% of content will be accessed using a phone or a tablet. For many technical communicators, the content that they’re producing won’t make it on to those devices until customers adopt them. With many businesses, that can be a long time in coming.
What to do until then? Definitely don’t ignore the mobile/portable space. Understand the issues surrounding how to create documentation for viewing on, and for use with, those devices. Understand the tools and the techniques. Be ready for the change. It will happen, but chances are it won’t happen as soon as many people think. That said, it could happen sooner than you expect if you jump to a new job or gig!
Thoughts? As always, feel free to leave a comment.
by: Julio Vazquez
Dynamic web, taxonomy, folksonomy, collaboration, semantic web, SEO, and many other terms are used in the technical communications community to describe methods to help readers find content on the web.
The technical advances that allow someone to locate information on the Internet have improved greatly over the years. The fear of getting lost in space that was the dread of technical communicators is, for all intents and purposes, a wild nightmare of an older generation. There is no fear of indiscriminate hyperlinks because the professionals follow best practices when creating those topical relationships.
Discussions now center about how to provide the right set of keywords so content for a product or service is listed early in a set of search results. Predictive search has become the latest concern amongst the knowledgeable folks in the business because how someone seeks knowledge may be altered by the algorithms used to create the prediction.