We had about 27 people participate in the first online meeting of the Content Strategy Network.
We opened the meeting with quick introductions from the moderators (Sarah O’Keefe, Alan Pringle, and Bill Swallow), then ran a few polls to get an idea of participants.
As expected given the meeting time, participants skewed heavily to the Americas
A majority of participants were content creators or managers of content creators.
The Other responses included information architects and content strategists.
Then we asked the question that brought everyone to the meeting: Is structured content worth the effort?
Nobody said No, but a majority of people responded Not Sure or It’s Complicated.
So then we asked why. And the floodgates opened.
- “I keep wondering who we’re serving — ourselves or our customers. That’s why I think it’s complicated”
- “Learning curve”
- “Infrastructure to support is expensive but hard to “sell” within the company outside of tech pubs (and maybe training) folks”
- “I think a disadvantage is structured writing can often be focused on the internal-workings of the finished product (a document), and that can be hard for people (management, SMEs) to understand when they are just focused on the end product.”
- “Depends on size of company, type of content, and L10N potential”
- “We’re trying to get to topic-based publishing. But if writers do not know the concept of “topic”, the whole structuring thing does not work. So yes, training on DITA concepts is crucial. Am I making sense?”
- “also: i would never do dita without a good content management system”
- “Sometimes reuse gets messy in the hands of inexperienced writers – for example, deleting content that’s conref’ed elsewhere.”
We were curious about source formats, so we asked:
Finally, we turned our attention to general house-keeping:
And options for communication:
- So based on the poll results, we set up a few new things:
The Content Strategy Network LinkedIn group
Content Strategy Network email list (Google group)
The Slack team is already running. Email us for an invitation.
We had a lot of feedback about how to operate this meeting, including requests for more targeted topics, the ability to submit questions ahead of time, and better interaction among the participants. We will be working on all of that before our next meeting, which is scheduled for August 23. Registration is already open via Gotowebinar, but watch this space and others for details on the topic and how to shape the discussion with your contributions.
Many thanks to those of you who took a chance on our beta launch of Content Strategy Network discussions. We will be working hard to make the next one even better, and hope to see you there!