Saturday, April 23, 2011

Responses to Questions From Last Week's STC Webinar on Content Strategy

Kathryn S: On the "And Some Specific Ones..." slide, I just wanted to let you know you have a missing "s" on "ideas."
Neil – There’s always something... :-0 Thanks…

Tony C: Have you found any free offline validation tools? I like jigsaw too, but I work for companies that don't let me use externally hosted validators.
Neil – Good question. I Googled “w3c offline validator” and got a bunch of hits but I can’t speak about any of them. What I’d do is talk to your developers to see what offline validators, if any, they use, since they must have the same restrictions that you do. If that doesn’t help, ask the developers for recommendations for web developer forums, perhaps on LinkedIn and elsewhere, and post the question there.

Jody T: Do you think RoboHelp is becoming an obsolete tool? We have a very OLD version and we are working on moving documents to a SharePoint Content site(s)
Neil – Not at all. Any help authoring tool that survives in today’s competitive market is a solid tool. However, there are two additional considerations. First, RH is old (debuted in ’91, RH HTML in ‘98), so there’s a huge tail of legacy projects that Adobe has to support. Second, depending on how old your version is, you may be having problems because a) it IS an old version with bugs and peculiarities that may have been fixed in later releases but not in yours, and b) your authors may have done, and still be doing, things that go against today’s standards and best practices because those standards and practices didn’t exist when your company’s development practices evolved. There’s a lot more that can be said here but I don’t know how proprietary this issue is to you, so feel free to email me offline –

John L: How would you plan to include measurements and metrics that quantify a tech content creator's "productivity"?
Neil – You have to quantify productivity in two ways. One is obvious – metrics to see how efficiently you’re producing your doc. Those are essentially production metrics. Second, and more important, are strategic metrics, metrics that demonstrate how doc is helping the company with its larger strategic business mission. I’d have to know more about your company to get specific, but the obvious ones are things like reduced expenses (which is sort of like increased revenues) because of reduced tech support calls due to better doc, improved user retention due to better doc, an increase in the number of new customers because of the Captivate video of the product that you added to the company’s main web site, and so on.

Kathryn S: Can you give us a sample document or template that we can base our strategies on?
Neil – Companies are so different that it’s hard to say, beyond what I noted in the webinar, without much more specific detail. However, I’d mentioned what I consider to be a useful thought-provoker and promised to list it – it’s a book called “Maximizing Project Value”, Jeff Berman, AMA Books, It is something of a marketing blurb for a project metric methodology, but he does add what I consider to be a lot of thought-provokers. I’ll add (sales pitch warning) that I do this on a consulting basis and would be happy to talk to you offline if you’re interested. You’ll also find a number of presentations on the subject at the Summit if you happen to be going.

David C: Looking for starter info for application of content strategy in a research org like a GOV agency where the primary web content is information and publications
Neil – Without a lot more detail, I’d tell you to see my previous response to Kathryn S. We can also talk at the Summit.

Hope this helps.

Regards and thanks for attending,