The content strategy experts at Scriptorium discuss how to manage, structure, organize, and distribute content.
The content strategy experts at Scriptorium discuss how to manage, structure, organize, and distribute content.
The true cost of quick fixes (podcast, part 2)
In episode 79 of The Content Strategy Experts podcast, Gretyl Kinsey and Bill Swallow continue their discussion and talk about solutions to quick fixes.
“A big part of your content strategy should be how requests come in, how the timelines are built, and what you’re responding to and how you’re responding to them in the first place.”
* The true cost of quick fixes (podcast, part 1)
Gretyl Kinsey: Welcome to the Content Strategy Experts Podcast, brought to you by Scriptorium. Since 1997, Scriptorium has helped companies manage, structure, organize, and distribute content in an efficient way. In this episode, we’ll be continuing our discussion on quick fixes, this time focusing on solutions. How can you undo quick fixes or better yet avoid them in the first place? This is part two of a two-part podcast. Hello and welcome everyone. I’m Gretyl Kinsey.
Bill Swallow: Hi, and I’m Bill Swallow.
GK: And today we’re going to be revisiting our previous discussion on quick fixes, but this time with a bit more of a positive spin. Just to recap a little bit from last time, what we mean when we talk about quick fixes are when you take a one off or bandaid approach to your content strategy, you do some sort of a work around to get content out the door, usually on a tight deadline or under a constrained budget, and then that later can cascade into lots of problems down the road if you have done a quick fix instead of planning and doing things the right way. And where I want to start things off today, talking about how you can undo or avoid quick fixes, if your company decided to use a quick fix in the past, what are some reasons that you might need to change that now?
BS: Well, I think one of the first things that you should be looking at is the amount of time your team is spending on overall tasks and to see exactly how much time is being spent fighting with, or otherwise futsing with their content development tools. Are they going in and constantly having to reformat things? Are they constantly having to retag things? Are they fighting with the tool to get it to work the way they need it to? And looking at these types of things to figure out, do I have a problem with quick fixes? Did we implement things correctly? Are we using the tool the way we should be using the tool, and is the tool right in the first place?
GK: Yeah, absolutely. And I think this kind of touches on the flip side of the scenario that we talked about in the previous episode, where we mentioned things like template abuse and tag abuse, and people going outside those parameters that you have defined in your structure or in your template and doing these one off quick fixes for formatting. So if you realize that you’re spending a whole lot of time on those kinds of things, then suddenly that’s not really a quick fix. That’s a very time consuming fix when you put all of those little individual quick fixes together. So if you realize that you’ve got a lot of writers doing that, then that can lead to something like a limitation down the road. If you realize, for example, “Hey, we really need to streamline templates that we have, or we need to introduce a new template or a new publishing output that is a lot more sleek and efficient than what we’ve already got,” and you’ve got writers all over the place breaking the existing templates, then suddenly they’re imposing a limitation unnecessarily on the tools that you have.
The true cost of quick fixes (podcast, part 1)
In episode 78 of The Content Strategy Experts podcast, Gretyl Kinsey and Bill Swallow talk about the true cost of quick fixes in your content strategy.
“Even if a quick fix might save you some time or a little bit of upfront cost or upfront effort on planning, it’s almost always going to add costs in the long run.”
* Content strategy pitfalls podcast: tools
* Content strategy pitfalls: planning (podcast, part 1)
* Content strategy pitfalls: best practices (podcast, part 2)
Gretyl Kinsey: Welcome to The Content Strategy Experts podcast, brought to you by Scriptorium. Since 1997, Scriptorium has helped companies manage, structure, organize, and distribute content in an efficient way. In this episode, we’ll be talking about the true cost of quick fixes and common issues that might lead an organization to taking this kind of bandaid approach to content strategy. This is part one of a two-part podcast.
GK: Hello and welcome everybody. I’m Gretyl Kinsey.
Bill Swallow: Hi, I’m Bill Swallow.
GK: And we’re going to be talking about quick fixes in your content strategy today, and how that can lead to all kinds of issues down the road. So I think the place to start is just talking about what we mean by quick fixes.
BS: And that can be pretty much anything that doesn’t fit the greater plan. Doing things that kind of make things fit or responding to an immediate need with an ad-hoc approach to getting something done.
GK: Yeah, absolutely. And I think we’ve both seen plenty of examples of this happen. Even if you’ve gotten a really solid plan together for your content strategy, there are oftentimes things that just pop up that do go outside of that plan. And so then it’s often really tempting to sort of apply this quick fix to get you through it. So what are some examples that you’ve seen of these kinds of quick fixes?
BS: One that jumps right out is formatting abuse. So whether you’re working in structured content or not, ignoring any styles or any elements or whatever you’re using, and just kind of using whatever feels right to you in order to make things look or behave a certain way rather than following what the styles should be.
GK: Right. And I’ve seen this, like you said, both in structured and unstructured content. And so from the structured side of things, that’s usually going to be a situation where you’ve got some sort of separation between your content itself and your formatting. But if you are used to working where you’ve got that control over the formatting, and then you suddenly don’t have that anymore when you go to structure, I’ve seen people do this tag abuse thing where they will use a tag in a way that is technically legal within the structure, but it is trying to control formatting. And then that can have all kinds of unintended consequences across your actual transformation processes that produce your output. But that’s just a very common thing that people will say, “Oh, I need a page break here, or I need a table to look like this here.” And they do something that’s just a tag abuse thing to get it out the door.
GK: And from the unstructured point of view too, I’ve seen people do what I would call template abuse....
Content reuse: different industries, same problems (podcast)
In episode 77 of The Content Strategy Experts podcast, Alan Pringle talks with Chris Hill of DCL about content reuse and what it looks like across different industries.
“You really have to start seeing content creation as a collaboration and build trust between the people who create content.”
* Use cases for content reuse
* Reuse in DITA and beyond (podcast)
Alan Pringle: Welcome to The Content Strategy Experts podcast brought to you by Scriptorium. Since 1997, Scriptorium has helped companies manage structure, organize, and distribute content in an efficient way. In this episode, we take a look at content reuse with special guest Chris Hill of DCL. Hi everybody. I am Alan Pringle. And today we have a guest on the podcast. It’s Chris Hill from DCL. Hi Chris.
Chris Hill: Hi Alan, good to talk to you.
AP: Yeah, it’s good to talk to you as well. Today, we are going to talk about content reuse and what that looks like across different industries. And the first thing I want to ask you, Chris, is why should people even care about reuse from say the executive who has departments that create and distribute content to the content creators themselves?
CH: Yeah, that’s a good question. And it’s one that’s evolved quite a lot over the last 20 years as we’ve moved more and more content to formats that support reuse really the critical things about content is there’s a cost to managing content regardless of how you do it and every piece of content you can think of as an expense. As you build up more and more content, the expense rises because you have more cost to manage it, to find it, to dig through it, to decide what’s relevant. And it slowly will build up to the point where it becomes daunting to deal with larger and larger volumes of content. So content reuse really came about to help control that.
CH: And when we see documentation that maybe has similar procedures or similar warnings or similar boiler plate text, whether it’s a copyright statement, you need to keep these things consistent. And so your users, your consumers of your content, benefits from reuse in that you create a consistency in the content that’s reliable, and that will not lead to confusion about what you’re trying to say. The creator themselves is often responsible for trying to deliver that quality consistent content to the users. And so a reuse oriented approach lends a great deal to be able to control and make sure that content is consistent and is accurate.
CH: If you have a lot of duplicated content and I find out that there’s a problem with that piece of content, or maybe something needs to be updated in that content. I suddenly am faced with a huge search task of digging through everything, to find where that content was used. If I’m using a real reuse strategy, that content should only appear once in the content. And so if I need to update it, it can be done so accurately by just going to the single source and knowing that it’s reflected in all of the places where that content might appear. So that’s from like a user and maybe a creator level. Now, sometimes management might say to themselves, well, I don’t really care. I’ll pay someone to do that work. It costs a lot maybe to move my content to a content management system. Why should I do that?
Moving to structured content: Expectations vs. reality (podcast)
In episode 76 of The Content Strategy Experts podcast, Elizabeth Patterson and Alan Pringle talk about expectations versus realities of tools when moving to smart structured content.
“You can have different people using different tools and still pour all of the content into the single content management system. People connect to it differently based on the authoring tool that they prefer, and what works best for them.”
* ROI for content strategy: Getting around roadblocks
* XML business case calculator
* Structured authoring and XML
EP: Welcome to The Content Strategy Experts Podcast brought to you by Scriptorium. Since 1997, Scriptorium has helped companies manage, structure, organize, and distribute content in an efficient way.
EP: In this episode, we talk about expectations versus realities of tools when moving to smart structured content. Hi, I’m Elizabeth Patterson.
AP: And I’m Alan Pringle.
EP: And I want to get things started by just having a brief definition of what structured content is.
AP: Smarter structured content is a content workflow that lets you define and enforce a very specific, consistent organization of your content. And it also captures some intelligence about your content. For example, what the audience is, for what product it is, you can embed that intelligence inside the structure for that content.
EP: Okay, great. So when you decide to make that move to smart structured content, what are some questions that you need to ask yourself before you make that move?
AP: Once you’ve established that business case that you do need to move to structure content, one thing you can start to do is really take a look at what you’re doing right now with your tools. I’m going to make the assumption that you were working in some kind of unstructured tool, some kind of desktop publishing tool, word processing tool. There are lots of them out there, Microsoft Word, InDesign, FrameMaker, any of those kinds of tools that are more on the traditional desktop publishing design side. And take a look at what you’re doing with those tools right now, are you using a template? Are you doing things or your people in your department doing things, shall we say in a Wild West way? Where anything goes. Because having a template is kind of like a baby step towards structure, because you have very specific tagging that your content creators assign and it gives an implied structure to your documents.
AP: So there’s that mindset already there, yes. There are certain tags that I need to use and it’s best that if I use them in a certain order. And that kind of mindset would be very helpful when you move into structure where there is an actual enforcement under the covers by the software, to be sure you are following that particular organization of content.
EP: And then also, you should probably take a look at the profiles of the people who create and review that content because that’s going to look different across the board.
AP: Yes, it will. You have different kinds of content contributors in an organization. And for example, you may have people professionally, that’s all they do, is write content. Now that could be marketing content, that could be training content, that could be product content, support content.
Saving localization costs with content reuse (podcast)
In episode 75 of The Content Strategy Experts podcast, Elizabeth Patterson and Bill Swallow talk about how content reuse can help you save on your localization costs.
“The savings you get from a reduced word count is all fine and good, but the translation is only as good as the quality of the translation itself.”
* Reuse in DITA and beyond (podcast)
* Use cases for content reuse
Elizabeth Patterson: Welcome to The Content Strategy Experts podcast brought to you by Scriptorium. Since 1997, Scriptorium has helped companies manage, structure, organize, and distribute content in an efficient way. In this episode, we talk about how content reuse can help you save on your localization costs. Hi, I’m Elizabeth Patterson.
Bill Swallow: And I’m Bill Swallow.
EP: And we’re going to dive in to talking about how content reuse can help you save on your localization costs. So I want to get started with just a really general question, and when we talk about reuse, what are we talking about?
BS: That’s a very good place to start. When we talk about reuse, what we’re not talking about is copying and pasting of content. You could think of that in terms of reuse, but it’s not really what we’re talking about here. When you copy and paste content, you’re essentially duplicating it and then need to manage it in multiple places. What we’re talking about is more intelligent reuse of content, so writing it once and using it by reference wherever you need to use it. So this way it’s only written once, and it’s used multiple times as needed.
EP: Great. And we have done a podcast and an additional blog post just solely on reuse, so I will link those in the show notes. But I want to dive into now looking more specifically at how content reuse, now that we’ve defined that, can help us save on localization costs.
BS: Well, generally speaking, reuse reduces the overall number of unique words that you are translating. By using intelligent reuse in your writing once, and using it multiple times by reference, you have the opportunity to choose pieces of content that you will author once and only once, and that content gets translated once and only once regardless of how many times it’s being used. If you copy paste, you can still see a savings if the wording that you’re using is one for one, so if it’s absolutely exact all the time.
BS: For example, I know Microsoft Word has an auto text feature, so you can throw a basic reusable component like a caution statement or some other boilerplate text, and you can use that to insert it every single time. That may save you a bit of time on the offering side and ensure that the text that you’re inserting is exact every single time. The only problem with that is that it is inserted as normal text every single time you insert it, so it does still increase the total amount of words that you need to send to the translator. It might be a 100% match, but they still have to do a check against it to make sure everything is fine. And the systems that they use will still count those words and say, “Yes, this is a 100% percent match.” But it’s still being counted as part of your incurred cost, because there’s something that’s going to the translator for them to see, even though there’s a match.
BS: And in some cases you may even get what they call an ICE match,
The benefits of a taxonomy (podcast, part 2)
In episode 74 of The Content Strategy Experts podcast, Gretyl Kinsey and Simon Bate continue their discussion about the benefits of establishing a taxonomy.
“Communicate with the stakeholders. Don’t just get their input and then go away. Communicate all along what you’re doing and identify your benefits.”
* The benefits of a taxonomy (podcast, part 1)
* Tips for developing a taxonomy in DITA
Gretyl Kinsey: Welcome to The Content Strategy Experts podcast brought to you by Scriptorium. Since 1997, Scriptorium has helped companies manage, structure, organize, and distribute content in an efficient way.
GK: In this episode, we continue our discussion about the benefits of establishing a taxonomy. This is part two of a two part podcast.
GK: So if you are at an organization and you have never had any sort of taxonomy in place and you’re starting to realize that you need something to help categorize your information, how do you go about starting that process to build a taxonomy?
Simon Bate: Well, the first thing of course, is to meet with your project sponsor, the person who’s really asking for this thing and get a sense of what’s their purpose and rationale and what’s the actual purpose, why are you building out the taxonomy.
SB: So then you want to, once you get a sense of that, you can map the scope of the project, including the knowledge domains and both visible and invisible stakeholders in those domains. So in meeting with the sponsor, you find out what do they need and who has a major stake in it.
GK: Yeah, absolutely. And I think it’s really important. A lot of people I think skip that step of getting that sponsor buy-in upfront. Especially if you’re not the one who has the power to or the finances to sponsor that taxonomy yourself, then it’s really important to make sure that you have someone who does have that power to be your ally and really help understand what you need. And so if that person’s not the driving force behind it, but maybe you are, but maybe you’re not in any sort of management or leadership role where you have control over finances, it’s really important to talk to whoever does have that power and make sure that, between the two of you, you can get on the same page and prove to them. Here is the business advantage of establishing a taxonomy and here’s what we are losing if we don’t establish one. Here are all the customer frustrations with not being able to find this information in this way and that will kind of help you get over that first hurdle.
SB: Yeah, absolutely. Having a justification, demonstrable return on investment or whatever, is really important before you can get started on any project like this.
SB: So actually once you’ve then gone past that first step, you’ve got a buy in there, then the next thing to do is to go to those stakeholders that you identified and engage with them. You want to validate your map of the scope, you need to understand their needs and it’s really, really important.
SB: If you try and start building a taxonomy out and you don’t include all the stakeholders, you’re setting yourself up for problems later essentially.
GK: Yeah, and we’ve seen lots of cases where that happened where maybe one department or one small group within a department started a taxonomy because they had an immediate need for i...
Customer ReviewsSee All
Nerd out on content strategy!
A podcast about metadata and taxonomies is the podcast for me! The audio quality could be a little better but I thoroughly enjoy these conversations.