Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Content models

Decided to hit the "double scoop" case study session out-of-the box on editing. Both speakers are from Microsoft, and the first, Richard Carey, is talking about content modeling.

Long-term tech writers will have to understand the XML model, the reuse strategies. Content modeling: powerful end-to-end development model. More relevant and consistent experience for users. A "programmatic application of basic technical writing principles."

"Topic" and "document" synonymous.

When users get to topic, they get solution that is relevant and easy to understand. Use links to get to larger concept. Solution is standalone, but can get context if they need it.

Been writer-centric, need to start thinking content-centric. XML universe brings the tools to us.

Break end-to-end story into solutions your customer can use.

Next, Microsoft's Terry Lee is talking about the value of editing.

Editors just want to make your excellent writing shine, and we let you take all the credit.

Quality content drives customer satisfaction, contributes to customer productivity and trust. It strengthens the brand. Dissatisfaction with content can engender dissatisfaction with the product that it supports. IEEE study showed that 70 out of 100 times were able to predict satisfaction with product by measuring satisfaction with content.

Editors reduce errors before publication, translation costs, support costs, and legal liability. Always cheaper to get it right the first time that to fix it later, even in a web-based environment.

Gave example of an error message that was technically accurate, but so cryptic that it drove support calls, became the #1 call driver, and created added cost of $1 million/year.

What if you don't have an editor? Use a peer-editing process. Have a style sheet. Have product names, capitalization. Have one person maintain the style sheet. Check cross references (especially TOC). Don't always rely on spell checker.

Bottom line: clarity trumps everything (including eloquence, parallelism, editorial idiosyncrasies).

No comments:

Post a Comment