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Author: Sarah O'Keefe

Podcast Podcast transcript

The pros and cons of markdown (podcast, part 1)

In episode 97 of The Content Strategy Experts podcast, Sarah O’Keefe and Dr. Carlos Evia of Virginia Tech discuss the pros and cons of markdown.

“I think markdown has a huge user base because most people need to develop content for the web. But there’s a set of people that need to be working in something more structured for a variety of reasons, and those are the ones who use DITA.”

–Dr. Carlos Evia

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Podcast Podcast transcript

DITA 2.0: What to expect (podcast)

In episode 95 of The Content Strategy Experts podcast, Sarah O’Keefe and Kris Eberlein (chair of the OASIS DITA Technical Committee) discuss the upcoming release of 2.0. What can you expect if you are currently in DITA? And what do you need to know if you are considering DITA?

“If you’ve been shoehorning diagnostic information into troubleshooting topics,  you’re going to have a good semantic place to put that content with DITA 2.0.”

–Kris Eberlein

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Content strategy

Content scalability: Removing friction from your content lifecycle

First published in Intercom (October 2020) by the Society for Technical Communication.

Scalable content requires you to assess your content lifecycle, identify points of friction, and remove them.

Company growth magnifies the challenges of information enablement. When you grow, you add products, product variants, markets, and languages—and each of those factors adds complexity. Process inefficiencies in your content lifecycle are multiplied for every new language or customer segment.

As a result, content scalability—increasing content throughput without increasing resources—becomes critical. Consider a simple localization example: when you translate, you have a few manual workarounds that require 1 hour of work per 100 pages of translated content. So if you translate 100 pages of content into 8 languages, you have 8 hours of workarounds. But as your content load grows, you are shipping 1,000 pages of content per month and translating into 20 languages. Suddenly, you are facing 200 hours of manual workarounds per month—the equivalent of one full-time person per year.

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Content operations

Content operations (content ops)

Content operations (content ops or ContentOps ) refers to the system your organization uses to develop, deploy, and deliver customer-facing information. Rahel Bailie refers to it as the way that your organization operationalizes your content strategy.

Over at easyDITA, there’s a more aspirational definition, which includes the purpose of good content ops:

Content Operations — ContentOps — is the infrastructure that maximizes your content creators’ efforts and guards against procedural errors by automating as much of the content development process as possible. 

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Podcast Podcast transcript

The personalization paradox (podcast)

In episode 84 of The Content Strategy Experts podcast, Sarah O’Keefe talks with Val Swisher of Content Rules about why companies fail and how to succeed at delivering personalized experiences at scale.

“It all has to be completely standardized in order to be successful. There have to be small, individual, standardized chunks of content that are devoid of format that can be mixed and matched. Then the output can be personalized to the person who asked for it and sent to them at that moment in time.”

—Val Swisher

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Content strategy

Enterprise content strategy maturity model

“Whether you like it or not, your prospects already use technical content.” 

In the paper age, it cost money to distribute information. That gave big organizations some control over information flow. A prospect interested in purchasing a product would get “pre-sales” information–marketing materials, sales pitches, and perhaps a data sheet. Only after buying the product could the prospect access “post-sales” information, such as technical content. (Buyers could and did request technical information from their sales representative, but the decision whether or not to provide the information rested with the organization.)

But in the digital age, information distribution is free, and that makes it difficult or impossible to control what information people receive. As a result, the distinction between pre-sales and post-sales content is blurring. If you are in the market for a new desk, and you’re considering “some assembly required” options, you might take a look at the assembly guide. If the build process looks daunting, a not-so-handy person may look elsewhere. If you’re considering a piece of software, you might glance at the user documentation to see whether tasks are explained clearly at a level that makes sense to you. 

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