This past October, we had the pleasure to attend the 2013 LavaCon Conference in Portland, Oregon. The week was filled with insightful presentations and thought-provoking roundtable discussions, making this conference worthwhile for any attendee. Vendors, guests, and speakers took advantage of Twitter throughout the conference by tweeting at the trending hashtag “#lavacon2013.” Through this hashtag, Twitter users were able to communicate their key takeaways and opinions about the sessions and the conference itself. Here, we recap a few of the most popular #lavacon2013 tweets as shared by some of the presenters and attendees at the conference.
This month, we asked Vasont CMS user Deb Bissantz, Technology Lead from LSI Corporation, for her tips on the roles needed when moving to a content management strategy. As LSI’s Technology Lead, Deb’s responsibilities include: CMS administration, structured template maintenance, WebWorks ePublisher stationery maintenance, and training. Deb is also an active member of the DITA Technical Committee and the DITA Adoption Committee. Here are Deb’s tips:
Technical communicators play a key role in keeping an organization’s customers happy. As a primary touch point between the company and the customer, the content you produce and deliver can make customers feel comfortable and satisfied about your products and services when it is accurate and easily accessible. On the other hand, it can frustrate customers and send them to your competitors when instructions and information aren’t clear and helpful. The experience a customer has when using your content can make a big difference in their loyalty to your company.
Strategies for Identifying Potential Content Reuse
Content reuse is the heart of a content management strategy. Content reuse can provide many of the benefits of using a CMS, including translation cost savings and savings in content creation time. Whether your content is in XML or still in unstructured Word documents, you can begin to identify where content is identical or very similar. Here are some tips to help you find your reuse potential:
Scenario: After getting several reports of customers complaining about the user guides for their products, the technical communications managers spend weeks developing new guidelines to make their content more consistent and clean up the vocabulary used by the writers. They create a list of acceptable and unacceptable terminology. Then, they hand over the packet of new guidelines to their team of writers. The writers get to work.
After a few weeks, the managers realize that the writers aren’t consistently instituting these new rules, causing the content they collectively produce to be discordant. So how can the managers get the writers to comply with the new guidelines? Here are some tips to consider:
Tips for Creating a Publishing Backbone
Do you have the elements you need for a solid publishing process? You need a strong backbone to support your publishing initiatives. This is more important than ever, since there are so many formats and devices in which to publish content.
Some of the hottest gifts in the last year were tablet computers, ebook readers, and smart phones. This emphasizes how communications are changing; people want to access information digitally on these mobile devices more than ever.
What Does a CCMS Do That Other Systems Don't
We often hear questions like, “Can I still use DITA if I don’t have a component content management system (CCMS)?“ . The answer is “Yes“ …but… Like any method of publishing, you can perform various functions to a certain point without a CCMS. However, there are things a CCMS does that other tools don’t do that can make you more effective in your publishing process:
Tips for Content Conversion
CMS content conversion can involve the transformation from a print to digital content format, or from one digital format to another. Whether you are considering content conversion to digital formats for the first time or assessing your process for ongoing needs, a clear strategy will give you the greatest chance of a smooth experience and a successful end result. Here are some key points to keep in mind when readying your content for conversion:
Each year, CFOs review the costs expended by their companies to verify that the money being spent is worthwhile. If they find that spending cannot be justified with positive results, budgets may be cut for those departments. In that case, you may need to say good-bye to the tools, the support, and the services that you might rely on to do your job if you can’t prove its worth.