Scriptorium Publishing

content strategy consulting

Waterfall content development? You’re doing it wrong.

June 29, 2015 by

Product development, content development, and localization processes are too often viewed as a waterfall process.

This is not at all accurate.

Waterfall: product to content to localization is highly unlikely.

Waterfall. As if.

Product development decisions do feed into content and content into localization, but, in the other direction, localization decisions also drive product development. For example:

  • Every time you add a new locale, you need to make sure that your product can support the local language, regulations, currency, and so on. Regulatory requirements might drive product decisions—the European Union, for example, has strict requirements around personal data protection.
  • In a country with multiple official languages (like Switzerland or Canada), you may need to provide a way to switch a product interface from one language to another.
  • If you want to deliver content as part of the product, you need to make sure that your product has enough storage space available for product content.
  • If you want to deliver web-based content with periodic updates, how do you handle the connection from the product to the content?
  • What if you want to have troubleshooting instructions that use product information directly? How do you integrate the instructions with the product status? How do you do that in 57 different languages?

This leads me to the unified theory for development:

Product, content, and localization maturity are interdependent. A mature process in one area requires alignment with mature processes in other areas.

Instead of waterfall, think of content, localization, and product as sides of a pyramid.

 

Three-face pyramid with content, product, and localization on the faces.

Content, product, and localization all contribute to the overall development process.

Your development process is a slice across the pyramid that intersects all of the faces.

Three-face pyramid with horizontal slice.

If your processes are equally mature, development works well.

What you want is a horizontal slice—the development process in sync across all of the faces. If the processes are out of alignment and do not have similar levels of maturity, you end up with an unstable platform that is impossible to stand on. Problems on the lower (less mature) side will cause instability everywhere.

Three-face pyramid with angled slice.

Different levels of process maturity make for an unstable development platform.

Here’s are some examples of misaligned processes:

  • Localization needs to deliver languages that the product didn’t account for. Suddenly, you have a need for Thai characters, and no way to embed them in the software.
  • Product is cloud-based software that is updated weekly. Content development process can only provide PDF that is updated every six months.
  • Product ships with all languages enabled, but localization process requires another eight months to provide content in all languages.
  • Content development process is frenetic and unpredictable. Localization costs skyrocket because of lack of style guides, consistent terminology, and formatting templates.

When we develop content and localization strategies, we must assess the maturity of the product development process. The right content strategy may require the organization to make changes in product development and vice versa. Product, content, and localization strategies all need to be aligned at similar levels of maturity.

Put another way: Your content strategy can’t get too far ahead of your product strategy.

Webcast: Risky business: the challenge of content silos

June 25, 2015 by

In this webcast recording, Sarah O’Keefe discusses how content silos make it difficult to deliver a consistent, excellent customer experience. After all the hard work that goes into landing a customer, too many organizations destroy the customer’s initial goodwill with mediocre installation instructions and terrible customer support.

Do you have a unified customer experience? Do you know what your various content creators are producing? Join us for this thought-provoking webcast.

(more…)

Localization, scalability, and consistency

June 23, 2015 by

When companies need to change the way they’re producing content, localization and scalability can be two of the biggest motivating factors. If your company’s content is not consistent, you may face significant challenges with translating it into new languages or distributing it via new platforms. A content strategy that embraces consistency and emphasizes planning for the future will help your company navigate these changes more smoothly.

(flickr: Beverley Goodwin)

(flickr: Beverley Goodwin)

Localization

Localization is usually difficult, time-consuming, and expensive—especially if your company is doing so for the first time. Even if you’re already localizing your content, a major increase in the number of required languages or a demand for new types of languages (such as right-to-left) may suddenly feel like more than your current process can handle. Here are some ways you can make localization easier and offset costs:

  • Prepare your content. Using consistent terminology, avoiding jargon, and practicing cultural awareness when you’re creating your source content can make it more ready for translation.
  • Plan ahead. As your company grows, localization will become more and more of a requirement. If you have target markets in other countries in mind, it never hurts to start researching their localization needs ahead of time.

Scalability

Companies can grow and scale up their operations in a number of ways. Maybe your company is growing larger, hiring more employees, and developing more products. Maybe you’re getting requests for content distribution through a wider variety of channels (print, PDF, HTML, online help), optimized for desktop and mobile. You might also be expanding into the global market, which means scalability will go hand-in-hand with localization.

Thinking about your company’s long-term goals for growth and planning for the future can help you avoid some of these common roadblocks to scalability:

  • Your content creation process is too slow or too small-scale to keep up with the demands of company growth.
  • Your content creation process can’t handle new localization requirements.
  • Your content is developed in a way that results in limited output types (such as a desktop publishing system that can’t produce output in electronic formats).

Consistency

When it comes to localization and scalability, inconsistent content can be part of the problem, so making your content more consistent can be part of the solution. Inconsistency makes translation and legacy conversion difficult, introduces accessibility issues, and ultimately hurts your brand. Here are some ways you can make your content more consistent:

  • Have a style guide (and use it). Train your content creators on consistent style and make checking for consistency a major focus of the review process.
  • Replace manual processes with automated ones. If a style guide alone is unreliable, use templates to help enforce it. The more you automate your content development, the less room you have for human error.
  • Consider controlled language software. If inconsistency is a huge pain point for your company, it may be best to invest in technology that can strictly enforce language and style.

Getting your content consistent can be difficult, especially if you’re currently working without a style guide or templates, but the rewards are worthwhile. Consistency can save your company money by allowing you to produce, translate, and publish your content more quickly and efficiently. With consistent content, localization and scalability will seem less like insurmountable obstacles and more like exciting markers of company growth.

To see how much your company could save by creating more consistent content, try our business case calculator.

The content strategy of things

June 15, 2015 by

This post is a recap of the presentation I delivered at Localization World Berlin on June 4, 2015. It describes how and why to adapt a content strategy in support of The Internet of Things. The presentation slides are available on SlideShare.

What is the content strategy of things? To simplify definitions, content strategy is the planning for and governance of the content lifecycle, and the Internet of Things is the connecting of devices and software to provide greater value. To adapt content strategy to the Internet of Things, the content strategy of things can be defined as the planning for and governance of connected content to provide greater value.

The Thinker

Flickr: Brian ⚓ Hillegas

As with any content strategy, proper planning is critical. All parties involved in hardware, software, and content must be involved. A shared understanding of the associated systems and the people using them is required. And since these connected devices, systems, and people could be anywhere, localization and cultural understanding is critical.

When we think of content, minimum viable content for consumption must be accurate, concise, and complete. This means it must exist and be available when needed, that it is factually correct, and that it is appropriate for the audience (in the proper language and format).

However, content that supports the Internet of Things cannot stop there. Since device and systems communication involves fragments of information being passed as needed, the content that supports this communication must also conform to this fragmented model. To engage users and talk between devices and contexts, content must be intelligent.

Intelligent content is structurally and semantically rich, reusable, reconfigurable, and adaptable. Content can stand alone as small snippets of information or be combined into longer blocks of information. And since it is XML-based, it can be transformed into any format required.

There are many models that support intelligent content, but one that stands out is the SNOMED CT model. In this content model, every concept gets a unique ID and contains multiple human-readable descriptions and relationships.

SNOMED is probably the best example that explains how content needs to work in order to support the Internet of Things. Rather than think in terms of independent topics, we need to start thinking in terms of contextual topic families. A family could consist of short and long entries for feature names and descriptions, and could contain many other types of topics depending on the types of information needed. Depending on the device and purpose of the content, only certain topics from that family would be requested and presented.

Topic family example

While we currently lack governance over human-facing content in the Internet of Things, moving to such a model would allow for a nimble transition to a future standard, and would continue to suit more traditional content deliverables.

If you would like to learn more about modeling content in this manner, you can contact us or leave a comment below.

Localization strategy and the customer journey (premium)

June 8, 2015 by

This premium post is a recap of a presentation delivered by Sarah O’Keefe at Localization World Berlin on June 4, 2015. It describes how and why to align localization strategy to the customer journey.

The new buzzword in marketing is the customer journey. What does this mean for localization?

The customer journey describes the evolving relationship between a company and a customer. For instance, a simple customer journey might include the following stages:

  • Prospect: conducts product research
  • Buyer: purchases product
  • Learner: needs help to figure out how to use the product
  • User: uses the product
  • Customer: owns the product, uses it occasionally
  • Upgrader: needs new features or has worn out the product and needs a new one
  • Repeat customer: buys the next version
Funnel with trade show, research, SEO, engagement, white paper, prospects, and emails going in at the bottom. Purchase is the output at the bottom of the funnel.

The marketing funnel ends with a purchase.

The idea of the customer journey is replacing the sales and marketing funnel, in which the end state (the bottom of the funnel) is a purchase.

Instead, the customer journey acknowledges a more complex relationship with the customer.

Stages of customer journey in a circle: research, buyer, learner, user, customer, upgrader

The customer journey continues after buying.

In the traditional marketing funnel, content is critical before the “Buy” decision. After that, content is not important. In a customer journey, all stages are critical and consistency is important.

There is content required at each stage of the customer journey:

  • Research: web site, marcomm, and white papers
  • Buyer: e-commerce and proposals
  • Learner: training
  • User: documentation
  • Customer: knowledge base, support
  • Upgrader: what’s new

Unfortunately, delivering this content with consistency can be quite difficult because it is created in lots of different places in the organization.

Corporate organization chart shows content being developed in different locations: training is under the CIO, proposals are under the COO, and so on.

The organizational chart makes consistent content difficult.

The localization maturity model is helpful here. The original was developed by Common Sense Advisory, but I have created a slight variant:

Instead of reactive, managed, optimized, negligent, and so on, we have anger, denial, bargaining, depression, and acceptance

With apologies to Common Sense Advisory, I have simplified their maturity model

Minimum viable localization is somewhere between level 1 and level 2 (between reactive and repeatable in the true maturity model). In most organizations, the localization maturity is different for different types of content. If you think about your content and map it against the customer journey, it probably looks something like the following:

Marketing content gets a 2; user documentation gets a -3 on the CSA localization maturity model.

Localization maturity varies by content type

Seen from the customer journey point of view, the problems are obvious. The prospect and buyer gets pretty good localized content, the learned gets something acceptable, and the user/customer gets the dregs. The company then attempts to redeem itself as the customer moves into the new buying cycle with better delivery for the upgrader/potential customer. This seems like a dangerous approach. A better strategy is to move all of the content into alignment at the same maturity level.

Consistency is critical. We recommend starting with the following:

  • Consider using a single vendor to make consistency easier. At a minimum, avoid fragmented, siloed localization efforts.
  • Work on voice and tone in source and target languages. Assess how they are different for different kinds of information.
  • Implement consistent terminology.

For some localization service providers (LSP), the need for consistency presents a business opportunity. A customer might choose a single vendor to make consistent content delivery a little easier. For a specialist LSP, this could be a problem. For example, a company that focuses on transcreation of marketing content would not be well-positioned to take on technical training materials. A company that specializes in a particular industry, such as biotechnology, might be in a position to argue for more investment by their customers.

For localization buyers, here are some recommendations:

  • Establish long-term vendor relationships. Commodity buying is not going to get you the quality you need to support a great customer journey.
  • Make sure the translation memory is available, updated, and shared among all your vendors.
  • Consider assigning LSPs by product rather than content type.

Localization strategy needs to change to support a customer journey. Here are some basic tips:

  • Understand your (or your client’s) customer journey
  • Understand localization requirements at each point in the journey
  • Develop a strategy that addresses each requirement
  • Ensure that you have terminology management, translation memory, and other assets in place across the enterprise
  • Different parts of the customer journey need different approaches to voice and tone. Include those in your customer journey planning.
  • Different locales may have different customer journeys. Align your translation priorities accordingly.

The customer journey is only as good as the weakest link in the content and localization chain.

 

Reducing tedium in content workflows with exceptionally mobile technology

June 2, 2015 by

The content lifecycle can involve many needlessly tedious tasks. Perhaps the most tedious of tasks is review tracking. There are many ways to send content out for review. Some people prefer using a manual process, others prefer automated workflows. Whatever approach you use is fine, provided one critical detail: that the reviewer actually read the material.

To date there is no sure-fire way to ensure that reviewers read the material assigned to them. No matter how many alerts they receive, and no matter how many times you bug them, there is no systematic way to ensure that reviewers read and comment on the material in a timely manner.

But what if there was?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, there is a wonderful technology being adopted for any number of purposes, from photography to package delivery:

DRONES!!!

Drones are small, highly maneuverable, emissions-free (well, the electric ones are), and they can be piloted automatically using sensors and programmed instructions. They would be the perfect companion to any writer who is desperately chasing after reviews!

drone copter

Flickr: Richard Unten

Imagine the ease of producing a review copy of a document and having a drone fly it over to a reviewer. To ensure that the reviewer doesn’t miss the delivery, you can configure the review system to monitor the reviewer’s workstation. When activity is confirmed, the drone can fly over, sound off an airhorn, release confetti and drop the document off for review (perhaps with a piece of chocolate for an added incentive and an advance “thank you” to the reviewer).

A few days before the review is due, if you haven’t received feedback, the drone can be sent out to gently remind the reviewer of their responsibility. You can use the same routine as you did in the initial drop-off, or you can equip the drone with any number of attachments to provide an extra incentive. (Please consult your employee manual and HR department before enabling air-to-surface projectiles.)

If the review date arrives and you still haven’t received feedback, you can then switch the drone to Bloodhound Mode. The drone will seek out the reviewer and follow them until the review is complete. Depending on the accessories you equip the drone with, it could play an audible alarm, flash lights, and record what the reviewer is doing instead of reading the material. You can even tie the cameras into your company’s intranet so everyone can see first-hand just how busy your reviewer is!

The applications aren’t only limited to reviews, though. Authors who are approaching their own deadlines can be “motivated” by a friendly visit from the drone squadron, as could subject matter experts who can’t seem to find the time to share critical project information. Add an extra battery or fuel tank and you could even send them out to check on your localizers!

Employing drones in every step of the content lifecycle will achieve results and add excitement to any work environment! You’re certain to see an immediate return on investment as well. As your traditional “office drones” are freed up to perform more meaningful work while the flying drones handle the chasing and hounding, productivity will soar as high as morale will carry it! So choose your features wisely and RELEASE THE DRONES!!!

Renovate or rebuild? Construction as a content strategy model

May 26, 2015 by

Does your house have good bones? Ugly paint, terrible carpet, and dated appliances are all fixable. But if a room is too small, a door is in the wrong place, or the rooms don’t match your requirements (need a downstairs master bedroom?), then you have a serious problem.

Content can also have good bones. Or not.

The content audit is like a home inspection. What information do you have already? Is it the right information? How is it put together? What sort of issues are there in the content? Do you need to update your kitchen, er, content?

Meeting building codes

If you don’t meet building codes, you are going to have a serious problem with your city building inspector when you try to sell your house.

Your content strategy needs to take into account the content building codes, which may include the following:

  • Requirements for accessibility
  • Regulatory requirements
  • Reader expectations

Build these into your upfront construction plan, or face huge expenses later when you fail your inspection.

The foundation

You need a strong foundation for your content. Unfortunately, that can be difficult because foundation requirements vary by industry.

Back to our house analogy: Here in the Piedmont region of North Carolina, we have clay soil. It’s fabulous for making bricks and growing tobacco, and very little else. With clay soil, you generally build either slab or pier-and-beam foundations. Very few houses have basements, unless they are built on the side of a hill. Unlike California, we don’t worry too much about earthquake-proof foundations. In coastal areas, we worry about hurricane tie-downs and possibly flooding.

With content foundations, you have a couple of different problems: Only a few lucky industries have bedrock content architecture that you can rely on. Everywhere else, you can count on seismic shifts in your requirements every few years. There will be new content platform that you must support, new regulatory requirements, new languages, changes in available skill sets, and new requirements for integration across the organization. (You thought you were building a house for your family, but now your quirky cousin from Maine is living with you. And she brought two tons of books with her.)

Overbuilding

Kitchen with missing appliances. Remodeling in progress.

Kitchen remodeling // flickr: sellis

One of the biggest home renovation risks is overbuilding. A little granite here, an appliance upgrade there, a few dozen custom cabinets with inlaid wood, an inability to say no to those organic bamboo floors, and suddenly your kitchen looks like something out of Food & Wine. It’s fabulous, but you are the Queen of Takeout. Why do you have a built-in wok and a triple oven?

Some organizations need industrial-strength content. Others just need to reface the cabinets or maybe clean the range for once. Before you start your content strategy work, understand your neighborhood. Will you get your investment in content back? What is your ROI? Will additional investment give you better results?

Scorched earth: when is razing appropriate?

In some housing markets, complete tear-downs are common. The house is sold, and then the new owners raze the building and build something brand-new on the same site. Tear-downs usually occur in desirable areas where land is very expensive—the land is relatively valuable compared to the building.

Perhaps you have a great web site URL and terrible content that populates it? Or perhaps your content is so dingy that it would be cheaper to start over. If you need to redesign all aspects of content production from who creates it to its delivery mechanism to the information architecture, it may be less expensive to start over than to try to glue your new design onto avocado-colored 70s content.

Cosmetic fixes are cheap

All renovations are deeply painful for the content owners and the inhabitants of the house. Basic fixes, like new paint or a new look-and-feel for your output, are faster, cheaper, and easier than moving walls or breaking down content silos.

But is a cosmetic fix going to fix your problem?

A word about rental property

If you live in rental property, your redesign options are limited. You can paint and move furniture around, but you probably can’t do more. If you are publishing content on a host platform, like Facebook, Medium, or Pinterest, you are constrained by what your landlord allows.

What makes a good leader—and a successful content strategy

May 19, 2015 by

General Stanley McChrystal offers sage leadership advice you can apply to your content strategy.

Here are your marching orders:

Acknowledge change resistance

Within the US Army, General McChrystal encountered high change resistance because people in the organization become very attached to existing processes:

[An individual’s] very identity is wrapped up into how things have been done.

The same is true in content development: workers become very adept at using the current tools and feel threatened when approached with the possibility of implementing new processes. The fear of the unknown is universal, and a strong leader will counteract that fear by resolving to…

Share information “until it’s almost illegal”

On the surface, this advice to overshare is surprising—it’s coming from a military official who had access to classified information the general public will never see. That said, company initiatives (content related or not) gain supporters much more quickly when management is painstakingly thorough in communicating the business requirements driving the changes, seeking input on the evaluation criteria for new tools, and so on.

Harness data to make it useful

[T]he idea that big data is suddenly going to give us the answer to the problem is something that [is] incorrect because the speed at which data is being created and changed stays ahead of our ability to harness it.

A company can supply vast amounts of data through multiple channels: tech comm, marcom, support, etc. Unless customers can pinpoint the information they want when they want it, that sea of data is useless. Therefore, our content processes must be intelligent to ensure information is findable and useful.

Moving past content strategy roadblocks (premium)

May 11, 2015 by

Keeping a content strategy implementation moving forward is important, but it isn’t always easy. You may have to deal with an extremely slow-moving project or unexpected delay. You may even have to put a project completely on hold. Here are some common obstacles that get in the way of progress, and some ways you can work to overcome them.

Obstacle 1: Funding

Don't let roadblocks stop your project. (flickr: Ryan McKnight)

Don’t let roadblocks stop your project.
(flickr: Ryan McKnight)

Content strategy is ultimately about improving your company’s bottom line, but there are always up-front costs involved. Even if you’ve proven that your strategy will have an excellent return on investment, you may have to work within limited financial constraints. Funding for your project may only be available during a certain time period based on your company’s budget and fiscal year. You may be required to use your funding by a specific date or lose it, and that date may not align with your project schedule and goals. You may also have funding alloted to your department by an executive or manager, only to have that budget cut or delayed until later.

Tips for dealing with funding constraints:

  • Do what you can with the money you have. If you end up with less funding than you anticipated, adjust your strategy accordingly. This may mean starting with a small-scale pilot project, converting only the most essential legacy content, or breaking up the project into less expensive steps that are rolled out one at a time. It’s not ideal to slow down a project because of funding, but it’s better than stopping altogether.
  • Plan in advance. Once you know that financial limitations might be an issue for your project, plan ahead as much as possible. This will help you stay in the confines of your budget so that you can work with it, not against it. The more you think ahead about potential limitations, the less chance they’ll have of throwing your project off-track.
  • Keep business goals at the forefront. Remind your management of the ways your content strategy will improve the bottom line, and have the numbers to back it up. This may increase your project’s chances of surviving a budget cut.

Obstacle 2: Bureaucracy

The larger your company’s size or the more complex its management structure is, the more difficult it can be to keep a project moving forward. When implementation decisions must be approved my many people at different levels (and sometimes in different departments), it can take a long time for any action to happen—and it can be far too easy for the project to come to a stop. It can also be a struggle to get past unexpected challenges or new circumstances that change the project’s direction.

Tips for dealing with bureaucratic constraints:

  • Demonstrate your expertise. Do the research it takes to develop a clear understanding of your content-related goals, your plan for implementing them, and the ways they will help your company. You will most likely need to explain the reasoning behind your project to many people in order to get things started. The more knowledgeable and confident you are, the more you’ll be taken seriously as you’re trying to gain support.
  • Know the chain of command. Learn how to navigate your company’s bureaucratic structure and use that knowledge to make helpful connections. Talking to the right people can go a long way toward moving a project forward, especially if you find yourself limited by how long you’ve been with the company or the position you hold.
  • Plan around slow movement. You know that it takes your company a long time to make changes, so build extra time into your implementation plan to account for this. Likewise, if you see the need for a future content strategy, don’t wait—start working on it as far in advance as you can.

Obstacle 3: Scheduling

It can be difficult (and sometimes feel impossible) to fit an overhaul of your content creation process into your company’s already-busy schedule. When faced with a choice between taking a major step in an implementation or sticking to production deadlines, most companies will choose the deadlines—especially if the implementation is still in its early stages. Of course it’s unreasonable to expect a company to delay its product releases for the sake of a content project, but if they never schedule time for the project, it can easily fall by the wayside. This leads to a “we say we’re going to do it but it never happens” kind of mentality.

Tips for dealing with impenetrable schedules:

  • Point out the costs of putting the project on hold. Your company’s executives keep delaying the project because of the financial risk they face if it interferes with product development. But not completing the project has its own risks. Fixing an unsustainable process costs money—more so if you have to fix it quickly. Waiting until you’re forced to make a change also runs a greater risk of interfering with production deadlines than solving your content problems gradually. If you can show how much delaying or stopping your project will cost your company, you have a better chance at getting things moving again.
  • Take small steps. Encourage the people in your department to fit in work on your new content strategy whenever possible, even if it’s only a little at a time. Even if you’re too busy for a full implementation, you may have enough downtime to start laying the groundwork. Take advantage of it. If you find yourself at loose ends waiting on a review or approval, maybe you could start coming up with specs for your content’s new output types or prioritizing your legacy content for conversion.

Obstacle 4: Learning curve

Your content project was your idea, so you understand all the ins and outs—but that doesn’t mean everyone else in your company does. Sometimes the learning curve for working in a new authoring environment or content management system can be so steep that implementation takes twice as long (or more) than you’d originally planned. In a few cases, it can even keep a project from getting started. If your executives anticipate a severe learning curve, or don’t have a solid understanding of the project themselves, they may be slow, fearful, and hesitant to sign off on a new system.

Tips for dealing with a major learning curve:

  • Educate those with a stake in the project. If you’re a content creator and your managers or executives are having trouble understanding your needs, provide them with information and resources that back up your content strategy. Knowing exactly what your implementation will involve—and what it will accomplish—will give them less reason to worry. Conversely, if you’re in a management position and your content creators are facing a learning curve, let them know what they can expect to change, provide quality training, and look into the possibility of offering follow-on support after the implementation.
  • Provide reassurance. Learning curve is often compounded with fears about how an average day at work will change. Some people who are really struggling to learn a new system may even worry about job security. As you deliver training, address their concerns and show them how their workday will change for the better. This will give them more motivation to learn and less reason to slow the project down by resisting change.

Obstacle 5: Surprises

Unanticipated events or challenges can crop up at the most inconvenient times and put a project on hold. These surprises can be negative (such as losing money on a product release that was expected to succeed, or having a crucial employee leave unexpectedly) or positive (such as being bought out by another company with better resources, or having to focus more on a product that’s suddenly in high demand). Either way, they can interrupt or even completely derail a content strategy project.

Tips for dealing with disruptive surprises:

  • Prioritize your content goals. If something puts your implementation on hold, which parts of the project would have been the most beneficial to your department? Which goals are the most important to keep working toward? If the surprise that stopped your project was a negative one, which parts of the project could be put aside for later while your company mitigates the disaster? Instead of letting a challenge stop your project, let the answers to these questions guide your decision-making in moving forward.
  • Have a backup plan. Many of the surprises companies face are caused by circumstances outside their control. Your company isn’t immune, and your content strategy should show an awareness of this. Make sure that you include plans for what you will do if something goes wrong during your implementation, or if your company undergoes major changes. That way, instead of getting stuck when you run into a new challenge, you’ll have an idea of where to go.

Content strategy implementations don’t always go smoothly, but there are plenty of ways to combat the obstacles that get in the way. Learn how to navigate your way around any roadblocks you might encounter—and remember that it’s always better to keep a project moving slowly than to let it come to a complete stop.

DITA training call for participation

May 1, 2015 by

One of the major challenges in implementing DITA projects is training. Although we (and others) offer fabulous live, instructor-led training, there is also a need for asynchronous learning–where can a student go to learn DITA independently? To address this need, Scriptorium is starting an open-source effort to develop training content for DITA.

We have chosen GitHub for the repository, and you can find the project here:

https://github.com/okeefescriptorium/ditatraining

The content is licensed under Apache (same as the OT) with the possible exception of a few graphics that we might get from Flickr under Creative Commons.

The materials include short videos that help explain key points.

We are also adding external links to information that people have already published.

If you are a DITA user, and especially a DITA expert, we need your help. Please consider contributing content to the repository. We have providing a starting point with basic DITA content, but there is an enormous amount that needs to be done.

To contribute, you’ll need to know a few things about how to use GitHub. If you are already involved in other GitHub projects, you can fork the ditatraining repository. If that sounds vaguely obscene, you might want to read GibHub for Beginners.

There is a very basic style guide provided as a DITA topic at the root level of the repository. Here are some highlights:

  • Most content uses the learning specialization.
  • Include author names in the prolog, along with a creation or modification date.
  • Each learning module has instructional content and assessments.
  • We have provided a recommended file structure and topic breakdown.

Our next step will be to publish the learning content into an interactive web site. More on this later.

Will you help us build a DITA training resource for the community? Please participate on GitHub, or contact us to volunteer your help.