Author: Marcia Riefer Johnston

Marcia Riefer Johnston is the author of "Word Up! How to Write Powerful Sentences and Paragraphs (And Everything You Build from Them)" and "You Can Say That Again: 750 Redundant Phrases to Think Twice About." She has run a technical-writing business for… a long time. She taught technical writing in the Engineering School at Cornell University and studied literature and creative writing in the Syracuse University Masters program under Raymond Carver and Tobias Wolff. Marcia lives in Portland, Oregon. Follow her on Twitter @MarciaRJohnston. For more, see http://Writing.Rocks.

How Structured Content Makes Chatbots Helpful

Remember when context-sensitive help was the revolutionary way to deliver the right content to the right people at the right time in the right way? Just a few years ago, many technical communication teams did nothing but create context-sensitive documentation for software products. They aimed to provide contextually relevant, helpful content based on what the customer was doing in the software at any given moment. These forward-thinking teams deconstructed large technical documents into discrete chunks, which they then hooked into the product interface. Customers no longer had to paw through a fat user manual or poke around in an online...

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Building Chatbots with Intelligent Content

Industry analysts predict that chatbots and intelligent personal assistants will overtake traditional web interfaces as the primary consumer touchpoint, that they will replace or augment mobile apps, and they will completely transform customer service. If those predictions don’t boggle your mind, read them again. Is your content team ready for that future? Most aren’t. The good news is that with some engineering, chatbots can employ and extend an existing content repository. Intelligent content allows us to use single-source publishing to push content out to interactive channels, including those that involve chatbots and intelligent assistants. Possible benefits: Boost the ROI of existing...

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How To Estimate The Impact of Business Decisions on Content Teams

Every strategic business decision has an impact on content. Entering a new market creates the need for localization. Images that work well in our home market may need to be altered or replaced in order to avoid offending members of new audiences. Mergers and acquisitions create a need for content updating and adaptation. Content obtained from others requires rebranding, creates the need for new metadata tags, and training content creators on new tools and workflows. A new product feature may require your content team to update your content strategy. Unfortunately, business strategists don’t always foresee the impact of their decisions...

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Longing to Conquer Google? Get “SEO Simplified” by Barry Feldman

Do you long for your web pages to jump to the top of your dream audience’s search results? And do you think, “Yeah right—why bother?” Even if your web pages don’t have a prayer today, you’re probably already doing some optimizing for search, and I bet that you’d like to do more … but what, exactly? The SEO advice I come across all the time often strikes me as either too basic or too advanced. Like Goldilocks, we’re all looking for advice that’s just right. Barry Feldman’s new book, SEO Simplified for Short Attention Spans, hits that spot. I...

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Reading, Writing, and ’Rocrastination: 3 Authors’ Wit, Wisdom, and Whatnot

This month, I was asked by the editors at The Content Wrangler to review a few books, including: The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction by Alan Jacobs Writing Riches: Learn How to Boost Profits, Drive Sales and Master Your Financial Destiny with Results-Based Web Copy by Ray Edwards The Art of Procrastination: A Guide to Effective Dawdling, Lollygagging, and Postponing (Or, Getting Things Done by Putting Them Off) by John Perry. At first glance, these books may seem atypical of The Content Wrangler content. None of these authors talks up some next big thing. They do...

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