Month: November 2006

Podcast: Does Your Documentation Jibe With Your Marketing Communications?

“Marketing provides the product content that customers read first,” writes Harry Miller, a technical editor at Microsoft. “This content introduces customers to features, to actions, and to parts of the user interface. Customers will then expect to find those things in the documentation, using the terminology they read in the marketing materials to search the contents or to check the index. For example, if the Web site says “Publish your documents using the Simple Deploy wizard from My Servers,” users will look for documentation about publishing, about the Simple Deploy wizard, and about the My Servers section of the UI. Does the documentation use those same terms? If any names were changed by the product team or by marketing, were the new names communicated to everyone in time to use them consistently? Even though the marketing team and the writing team generally move in different circles, each needs to pay attention to what the other team is doing.” In this nine-minute podcast, Harry Miller interviews Michael Hernandez, product manager for Visual Studio for Microsoft Office., about the importance of assuring a common vocabulary between marketing and technical...

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Podcast: How to Increase Collaboration and Performance – Interview With Emma Hamer

In this podcast, Tom Johnson interviews performance improvement guru Emma Hamer. The discussion is an excellent and important one, focusing on how to set up the ideal collaborative workspace, overcoming fear of change, and addressing other common change-related problems in the workplace. Topics include: Helping writers cope with major changes (such as implementing a CMS) Understanding the difference between a group and a team Radically increasing collaboration and communication on project teams Changing the way your workspace is organized Encouraging your employees to present great ideas Dealing with lack of consensus in a department Understanding human factors about managing and leading Making performance reviews less burdensome and more accurate Listen to the...

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Content Management and the World Enterprise

Today I’m in Boston at the Westin Copley for the Content Management Professionals Fall 2006 Summit: Content Management and the World Enterprise. The Summit attracts an intimate group of influential content professionals from around the globe. Both non-members and members of the organization attend the Summit. We’re expecting 70-100 attendees—from well-known content management consultants to representatives of corporate content management project teams—from independent content strategists to important industry analysts—from writers, editors, and translators working in the trenches to business managers of content-heavy organizations. We will be working together to help solve difficult content challenges, share lessons learned and best practices, develop new business contacts, and obtain useful skills to take back with us when we return to the office. I plan to take photos and upload them to Flickr. I also plan to make available the presentation slides and other materials here after the event is...

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Understanding Hosted Content Management: Interview With Jim Howard, CrownPeak

Selecting a content management system (CMS) is an increasingly challenging task, especially if you don’t understand the various types of content management systems, how they work, and what the differences are between them.  Most CMS shoppers lack the knowledge and experience necessary to find their way through the maze of CMS misinformation available on the web. It’s easy to see where the confusion comes from. Industry jargon and terminology misuse make comparing apples to aples difficult, if not nearly impossible. In this exclusive interview with Jim Howard, CEO of CrownPeak, we seek to help our readers better understand hosted content management solutions. TCW: Jim, thanks for agreeing to chat with me today. For our readers who don’t know who you are, please tell us a little about yourself, your past experience, and your role as CEO of CrownPeak. JH: As the CEO of CrownPeak, I’m the chief evangelist of Web content management delivered as a software service. My background, like the background of my co-founders, is in content management and Web technologies. Back in the mid-90’s my co-founders and I worked at one of the first Web technology companies in the country. After we built that business up we sold it to USWeb just prior to their public offering. In my time at USWeb (later USWeb/CKS and MarchFIRST), I held senior positions in sales and then in operations...

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Whose Content Is It Anyway? An Argument For Modular Writing

By Pamela Kostur, Partner, Parallax Communications Writing modular content that can easily be reused is important not only when working in a content management environment, but also in the world of “everyday” technical communication. However, after spending several years consulting with companies on their content management initiatives, I’ve noticed that many technical writers have problems creating modular content or reusing content that others create. Either they are not called upon to do so (it’s not how their company or group typically operates) or they are reluctant to do so for reasons ranging from “it’s easier to start from scratch” or “it stifles my creativity.” But, there are good reasons to adopt modular writing, among them: Modular writing allows you to easily reuse content, ensuring consistency of content that must be repeated in a number of different places. Not only does reusing content ensure its consistency, it is also efficient. It’s costly for several people to create the same product description (or procedure or error message) over and over again. Instead, one person can create it for all uses, based on a standard that accommodates all uses. Module writing requires that standards be applied to so they can be reused transparently. Standards ensure that all procedures and comparisons and processes are treated the same and standards are based on usability to ensure that the module’s structure is suitable for the...

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