DITA

Interview: The Wrangler on International Communication, Nightclub DJs, and Higher Education

The Content Wrangler - Thu, 2015-07-23 21:40

In this 45-minute video interview for connexions magazine, the international professional communication journal, Scott Abel, The Content Wrangler waxes poetic on the state of communication today.

Highlights include The Wrangler’s view on outdated communication practices, rules, and standards; how working as a nightclub DJ prepared him for his current career as an intelligent content strategist; why breaking down content silos can help help us provide better customer experiences with content; and, what educators should be doing to prepare our students for future careers in today’s mobile, global business world.

Interview with Scott Abel – connexions interview for issue 2(1), 2014 from connexions journal on Vimeo.

Scott Abel is a content management strategist and social media choreographer whose strengths lie in helping organizations improve the way they author, maintain, publish and archive their information assets. Scott is an editor of technical, medical and scientific documents and books.

This interview was recorded for issue 2(1) of connexions • international professional communication journal. The interview was conducted by Kyle Mattson, via Skype, on November 24, 2014. The interview was transcribed from the recorded interview by Quan Zhou, connexions’ section editor.

The interview transcription is available on the connexions journal website at http://tinyurl.com/mbyw95m

Categories: DITA

In Music and Content Marketing, It’s All About Creativity: An Interview with Jon Wuebben

The Content Wrangler - Wed, 2015-07-22 22:13
Jon Wuebben Headshot 2015

Jon Wuebben

Danielle Villegas had an opportunity to talk with Jon Wuebben, the best-selling author of the content marketing book, Content Rich: Writing Your Way to Wealth on the Web, and founder/CEO of Content Launch, a leading content marketing software company. Jon will be speaking at the upcoming Information Development World conference, September 30-October 2, 2015 in San Jose, CA. His talk is titled, “Nurturing with the Right Content to Build Loyalty and… Sales,” and based on the conversation below, it looks like it’ll be a great event! Danielle and Jon talked about the role of content marketing in business today, and music, too!

Danielle Villegas (DV): Let’s start with some foundation questions. You’re a business guy. I saw that you have an MBA and have done a lot in marketing. What pulls a person like yourself into content marketing, and starting their own content marketing business?

Jon Wuebben (JW): I’ve always been a writer. I’ve always enjoyed writing. I worked for Ford Motor Company about fifteen years ago, and after that I worked for Kia Motors America, so I was in the automotive business for a while. I did a lot of marketing for them, writing for them and their dealers. I really wasn’t happy with the corporate world. I figured I had the entrepreneurial bug—this is about thirteen years ago—so, I started my own company in 2003.

Originally, the idea was to just write copy for ad agencies here in California, write copy for their banner ads, and their print ads, and things like that. That was eleven years ago when we started that. Then, SEO (search engine optimization) really took off, and more and more companies were getting on the web, and everybody needed a website. I quickly realized that content was the heart and soul of the web, and I liked to write….So it was a perfect marriage.

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure how successful we were going to be because I didn’t realize how many businesses needed our services! I thought, because I was a good writer and I enjoyed writing, everybody else did, too. That was not the case at all! Not only did companies not have the time to write, but a lot of people don’t enjoy writing, or a blank screen just stares back at them in the face. They find it difficult to write, and to write well and connect with people.

That was sort of a light-bulb moment for me, realizing there was a huge market for content in the B2B area. We started working with companies like HubSpot, and working with a bunch of digital agencies across the country. I decided that I needed to write a book about this because I didn’t think there was a really good book about content marketing out there—and this was 2008—when I wrote my first book (Content Rich: Writing Your Way To Wealth on the Web)…

DV: Right, I was going to ask you about your books…

JW: That was a big risk because I self-published it. I spent $40,000 on the printing and the marketing, and I paid for everything. But I believed in what I was doing, and I knew that there was a need for a book on the topic. I went to every Barnes & Noble store in Southern California, I met people, I got on Amazon, and we ended up selling 5000 copies, which for a self-published title is pretty good.

DV: That is pretty good!

ContentIsCurrencybookcover_Wuebben

Jon’s second book, now available on Amazon.
(Click on the image to order.)

JW: I wrote my second book [Content is Currency: Developing Powerful Content for Web and Mobile]  in 2012. I’ve always had a passion for writing, and for books, and it’s just been something that’s been a part of me from when I was a little kid.

DV: It sounds like you’re somebody for whom it clicked in your head—probably before a lot of people—about the importance of content marketing. My own understanding is that people are just starting to come around to content marketing, whereas the light bulb in your head went off a lot earlier than other people.

Why do you think it’s taken a while for people to connect with the idea that businesses should be connecting more with content rather than traditional marketing?

JW: That’s a great question. I really like that question a lot! It’s surprising to me, even after going through the last four or five years [thinking about why this connection has taken so long]…well, first of all, let me say that it was interesting because I was getting into this whole content marketing back in 2007/2008, and I didn’t realize there was another guy back in the Midwest named Joe Pulizzi [of the Content Marketing Institute]…

DV: Sure, I know who he is…

JW: …he was the Midwest version of me. When I met Joe, it was a meeting of the minds. He and I have been good friends since that time. There were a lot of other people, too, besides me who were really understanding the importance of it, and were really doing a lot to spread the “gospel”, if you will.

I think a lot of people that work for companies, especially bigger companies—there’s just something that happens. They start falling in love with their companies, they start falling in love with their products and services. When they market their products and services, they really don’t think about what’s in it for the customer, or what the user’s needs are. They’ll say, “We’ve got the greatest products on Earth, and people should buy them!” Then, they’ll write brochures and marketing pieces that are all about the product and its features.

No one wants to read that stuff anymore! I didn’t want to read that ten years ago! I saw that happening, and I always wondered why companies were so sales-focused and so feature-focused. It just doesn’t work anymore, right?

Fast-forward to now. What’s happened is that consumers, customers, people out there—regular people now have the power that they didn’t have fifteen or twenty years ago. People got fed up, and said, “You know what? I don’t like to be sold to anymore. I’m sick of reading a boring brochure that doesn’t tell anything about how it’s going to affect my life or improve my life.” So that happened at the same time [as my realization about content marketing], and that’s driven a lot of it.

Review sites like Yelp, and Amazon, and all these places where people can REALLY say what the truth about that company or those products and services have really shined a light on all those companies that were not doing a good job and maybe didn’t have great products or services.

It took this to happen over the last ten or fifteen years for people to have the power to put these companies in their place. A lot of those companies are no longer doing business, quite frankly, because all they had were a bunch of marketing brochures that really didn’t mean anything. So that’s a long answer to your question, but…

DV: …but it’s good, it’s good. I just finished taking a digital marketing mini-MBA course at Rutgers, so a lot of what you’re saying resonates with me. One of the things we talked about in my class was the idea that the whole sales paradigm has changed for the consumer, as it used to be that you were pitched a product, you built brand loyalty, and then you read about the details, or you got the basics from marketing and sales.

But from a technical communications perspective, it was really important for the follow-up and the customer service that went after that. And now, that big after-part is really at the beginning—everything’s turned upside down in the buying process! So it sounds like you were ahead of the curve on that!

JW: Well, thank goodness that it happened [that way], because I think the way that people bought products and services before was because they happened to be talking to some really slick sounding salesperson. Because they were talking to some really slick sounding salesperson, they bought (the product or service), which is the last reason to ever buy anything. Thankfully most of those folks are no longer in the equation.

DV: It sounds like you are very passionate about creating those kinds of exceptional content experiences. What would be something that you consider to be the number one thing that is really obvious to almost anybody in marketing or even content writing, but most businesses miss the ball on?

JW: I would say any kind of lead generation content, so whitepapers, e-books, downloadable assets on a website—that’s still a miss for a lot of companies. When I tell them that they need that stuff, a lot of them look at me with a blank stare, like, “What do you mean I’ve got to give away something at my site for the people that come there? I don’t understand!” Well, why don’t you understand that?

These people that come to your website already know about you, and they are already researching you. They’ve been to seven or eight or nine different places. They’re coming to you totally knowledgeable [about your product or service]—way more knowledgeable than you might think. You’ve got to give them something—some kind of education to start building that relationship. So, I think the lead generation content is a big miss for a lot of companies still.

Most companies get the blog thing, and I think most companies understand the social thing, but the actual downloadable assets that can be used for lead generation on a website…I think about a third to about half of the companies out there don’t understand the power of that and how that all works.

DV: That’s a good point. Now, you’re going to be speaking at Information Development World, and your topic is about nurturing the right content to build loyalty in sales. Would you say that your talk at IDW is an extension of what you were just talking about?

JW: Yes, I think that’s part of it, for sure. I think the other part of it—and there are many, many parts to it—but another really important part is the fact that you have to talk to your customers and prospects. You have to understand what’s important to them, and you have to do it on a regular basis. You have to check in with them.

When you do that, you’re going to get a lot of good information. But, you’re also going to find out who your passionate customers are, who your really loyal customers are out there, and which people will help you market and brand yourself, because that’s what a lot of people do in social media all the time, every day. So if you can find out who your passionate and devoted customers are ahead of time, and tap into that, that can be a big win.

Jon Wuebben - Vocal Session for Album 12.10.14

Jon recording a vocal session for his album.
(Photo courtesy of Jon Wuebben)

DV: Oh yeah, absolutely! If you don’t mind me shifting gears ever so slightly, I understand that you are a musician, and you’re going to be sharing your dulcet tones with us at Information Development World as well.

Because you have a passion for music, and you have a passion for content marketing, what sort of things occur in music that you also see occurring in content marketing? Can you make analogies for people to understand how they work closely together?

JW: That’s a great question. I’ve often wondered that myself—why are music and marketing are my two passions, and is there any overlap? I think there’s a lot of overlap. First of all, I call myself or identify more as a songwriter first. A musician is the third thing that I am. Typically, when I write my music, I hire session musicians to actually cut the songs and cut the albums, because I’m not good enough to make it sound how it’s sounding in my head.

DV: Oh, it’s like Billy Joel when he wrote classical music. When he started, he said he would write it down, but then he’d get a classical pianist actually do the recordings, so that way the songs would come out the way he thought they should.

Jon jamming with Probyn Gregory, a session musician who plays for the Beach Boys. (Image courtesy of Jon Wuebben)

Jon jamming with Probyn Gregory, a session musician who plays for the Beach Boys.
(Photo courtesy of Jon Wuebben)

JW: Yeah! Even the Beach Boys and the Beatles had folks who would play for them. But back to your original question, I think number one [similarity] is the creativity thing. There’s a lot of creativity in writing. Writing is a creative talent…

DV: Right, I was going to say that songwriting is, well, as I thought, “That’s the writer in him.”

JW: Yes! What’s interesting about writing a song is that it’s a combination of right brain and left brain skill sets. The right brain is obviously creating something from nothing, and creating a melody, and writing some lyrics that have metaphors and mean something significant. The left brain is actually constructing the song, and writing the chord patterns. Notes are very mathematical. It is a combination of your left and right brain, and I think marketing is the same thing.

You are using both sides of your brain for both [music and marketing]. But I think the biggest part of it is the creativity piece of it. When you are in marketing, you constantly have to call upon your creative powers, whether you’re actually creating something, act as the designer or the writer or whatever you are, or you’re creating a marketing campaign, or you’re starting a business. I often wonder why I’m an entrepreneur, why I started businesses. I think it’s a very creative pursuit.

It all comes down to, I’m a pretty creative guy and I just use it in different ways.

DV: Sounds good! I’m looking forward to hearing you at the Information Development World conference. What kind of songs do you tend to write? Do you go for a certain style?

JW: I’m a big fan of the Beach Boys and Brian Wilson. There’s an album called, “Pet Sounds” that came out in 1966…

DV: Yup, that’s a classic!

JW: …yeah, and I write music that sounds similar to that style. It’s more soft, more melodic, lots of key changes and chord patterns. I have a few fast songs on the album, but I’ve [also] got six or seven slower songs. It’s more of the seventies’ singer/songwriter-ish kind of vibe with some cool instrumentations. We’ll see how it goes! I’ve never actually performed it live, but the album’s coming out in about a month.

DV: Oh cool! Hopefully you’ll have copies at the conference that people can pick up?

JW: Yeah!

DV: I hope so! I’ll make sure I get a copy!

JW: Cool!

DV: Well, I think that covered my questions. Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk with me today. See you at Information Development World!

JW: Thanks for having me! See you there!

Read more about Jon and his presentation on the IDW website.

Categories: DITA

Gilbane Advisor 7-21-15 – Why desktop apps are making a comeback

Why desktop apps are making a comeback Well, they certainly still have a role to play, right tool and all… Most software products need an interface. That interface can come in different forms, but usually boils down to either an installed program, or a browser-based web application. For the desktop (mobile is another issue entirely), […]

This post originally published on http://gilbane.com

Categories: DITA

Gilbane Advisor 7-21-15 – Why desktop apps are making a comeback

Why desktop apps are making a comeback Well, they certainly still have a role to play, right tool and all… Most software products need an interface. That interface can come in different forms, but usually boils down to either an installed program, or a browser-based web application. For the desktop (mobile is another issue entirely), […]

This post originally published on http://gilbane.com

Categories: DITA

The Importance of The Human Voice in Multilingual Multimedia Content

The Content Wrangler - Mon, 2015-07-20 19:52

In the June issue of Multilingual Magazine I interview Todd Resnick, founder of The Voice Company, a voice over production company that specializes in adapting content to make it more meaningful, appropriate, and effective for a particular culture, locale, or market using the human voice. By combining aspects of content strategy, acting, storytelling, and localization with audio and video production expertise, Resnick’s firm helps movie studios, television networks, video game developers, eLearning companies, and corporate communication departments in nearly every vertical market create compelling, believable content.

As more and more global brands explore the need to create multimedia content, understanding the issues and considerations surrounding management of the human voice — especially across cultures and languages — is going to become a critical differentiator. Those brands who do it well will be able to provide relevant customer experiences to prospects and customers alike.

Read the article.

Categories: DITA

CMS Supplier Dilemma: RFP Schedules

Really Strategies - Mon, 2015-07-20 14:52

RFP.jpgAs a supplier of software solutions and publishing automation tools we regularly receive Request for Information (RFI) or Request for Proposals (RFP).  In many cases there is an aggressive supplier schedule to return questions, then submit a final document.  Some are just ridiculously short periods of time to adequately digest the information and respond appropriately, but we try our best to showcase our knowledge and software capabilities.  After working long hours to address the short turnaround time, one of the following inevitably happens: 

  1. Schedule extended:  Solicitor received too many proposals and will need more time to review them.
  2. Vendor pushback:  Submission period is extended since some suppliers balked at the short timeline and the solicitor wants their bids.
  3. Mismanagement:  Nothing (worst case)

Lets look at each of these situations a bit more closely to get to the root cause of each one.

Scheduled extended – Many times a company has a template driven procurement process.  The procurement department forces the software vendor to adhere to the timeline without regard to complexity of solution or the number vendors being sent the RFP.  If there are only three vendors in a niche marketplace, procurement will still require the business sponsor to send the RFP to ten vendors regardless of their applicability to the actual project.  This happens over and over again when we receive Web Content Management RFPs when our software is classified as an Enterprise Content Management System.  With a little homework, the company looking for a solution can distinguish between the two, but in all fairness, some vendors blur the lines between solutions in their marketing speak to make their solution broader in capability then it truly is.  When the procuring business receives back way more responses than they anticipated, of course they are going to need more time to review each proposal.  Again, sending out an RFP to a large disparate group of software vendors is going to result in a large disparate group of RFP responses which then confuses the entire procurement process which leads to delays.  Think about receiving vendor proposals whose approach is to build from scratch versus vendor proposals that want to use best of breed tool integration versus vendor proposals listing third party systems that only require a little configuration.  Three valid types of responses, but very different RFP responses.  Confusion around solution approaches usually leads to procurement delays.

Vendor pushback – Let’s be honest, many companies have preferred vendors when they send out an RFP.  If those preferred vendors push back on the company because the timelines are just too short to respond, a miracle occurs and the deadline gets extended.  If the vendor is not on the preferred list, most likely the schedule will not be extended and the vendor will submit a basic response just to stay in the game.  Some organizations do however hold tight to the schedule regardless of how ridiculous the timelines for questions and RFP response truly are.  Those are the rules and its my game, so do as I say.  Unfortunately some very good vendors are weeded out when this happens because the procurement department is just too rigid.  There needs to be a give and take between the procuring business and the vendor.  Actually, realistic timelines would be most welcome.

Mismanagement – I could probably write an entire blog post about how poor some companies are with managing the RFP process.  In general, the process does not come second nature to anyone in the business and the procurement department is forcing the process onto the organization because that is their mandate from management.  In addition, many companies really don’t care about timelines after they receive RFP responses.  At that point, they have the information they need and will take whatever time THEY need to review the information and figure out next steps.  It always amazes me that suddenly when the RFP responses are turned in, a black hole appears and no communication comes out of the organization.  Timelines are missed by the procuring company, phone messages are left and follow-up emails are sent by the vendor…silence.  Miraculously communication picks up a month after the deadline to communicate to the vendors and now the procuring company has 100 questions that need to be answered in 48 hours or less.  And did I mention that if the procuring company actually read the RFP, the questions are answered in the text.  You see, most companies read the executive overview, look at the proposed implementation schedule, and obsess on the budget numbers.  The rest of the RPF response to them is filler.

There is no single way to fix the procurement process.  Some companies have a very good procurement process while others seem to do it to appease procurement and therefore really have no interest in following the process unless it is advantageous to them.  Let’s start by having both sides adhere to the timelines set forth in the RFP.  That includes final selection and start of the project.  All any vendor wants is a fair shot at winning the opportunity and having the procuring company live up to their side of the relationship.  

If you want to see why we receive RFPs for publishing automation solutions, register here to see a demo of RSuite®.

Schedule RSuite Demo

Categories: DITA

Why web pages suck

In Why Web Pages Suck Ben Thompson takes off on John Gruber’s complaint about fat slow websites, and basically argues that publishers don’t have a choice, and in effect, neither do advertisers. Ad exchanges and programmatic advertising work well enough (I know, except when they don’t) that advertisers can’t ignore them. Advertisers’ strong preference for […]

This post originally published on http://gilbane.com

Categories: DITA

Why web pages suck

In Why Web Pages Suck Ben Thompson takes off on John Gruber’s complaint about fat slow websites, and basically argues that publishers don’t have a choice, and in effect, neither do advertisers. Ad exchanges and programmatic advertising work well enough (I know, except when they don’t) that advertisers can’t ignore them. Advertisers’ strong preference for […]

This post originally published on http://gilbane.com

Categories: DITA

Visualizing DBpedia geographic data

bobdc.blog - Wed, 2015-07-15 12:34
With some help from SPARQL. Bob DuCharme http://www.snee.com/bobdc.blog
Categories: DITA

RSuite and MarkLogic: A Decade of Partnership

Really Strategies - Mon, 2015-07-13 14:50
Lisa_ML_Video_quote

Watch Video

RSuite and MarkLogic have been partners for over a decade. Publishers need to deliver more than they ever have in the past. They need to do it faster and they need to reuse content in ways that simple have not been historically possible. One of RSuite’s greatest strengths is enabling the discovery and reuse of content, not only at a document level, but at a very deep, granular level. That’s something that MarkLogic’s native XML support helps to enable. RSuite enables publishers to automate their publishing. RSuite is Publishing Automated.

 

Categories: DITA

The Content Wrangler XML Press Summer Book Sale

The Content Wrangler - Wed, 2015-07-01 22:40

Our friends at XML Press have arranged a special book sale, just for you! For the month of July, all books in The Content Wrangler Series of Content Strategy Books are on sale (printed books and ebooks). We also have a bundle with all five books in the series available for one low price (and free shipping in the US).

In addition, XML Press is offering discounts on every book in its catalog, including print and ebook editions. Shop today and save!

The Content Wrangler Content Strategy Series features publications from content industry experts, including Scott Abel, Rahel Anne Bailie, Paula Land, Kevin Nichols, Val Swisher, and Rick Yagodich.

 Included in the series:

9781937434342-165x255The Language of Content Strategy (edited by Scott Abel and Rahel Anne Bailie) is the gateway to a language that describes the world of content strategy. With fifty-two contributors, all known for their depth of knowledge, this set of terms forms the core of an emerging profession and, as a result, helps shape the profession. The terminology spans a range of competencies with the broad area of content strategy.

The Language of Content Strategy defines fifty-two terms that are central to the discipline of content strategy. Each term has been defined by an expert in that area, and each definition contains an essay that describes why that term is important.

Terms are grouped into five categories: Core Concepts, Core Deliverables, Technical Concepts, Extended Deliverables, and Global Content.

Buy the book!

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Content Audits and Inventories (by Paula Ladenburg Land) shows you how to begin with an inventory, scope and plan an audit, evaluate content against business and user goals, and move forward with a set of useful, actionable insights.

This practical, tactic-filled handbook walks you through setting up and running an inventory using an automated tool, setting the stage for a successful audit. Specific audit tactics addressed include auditing for content quality, performance, global considerations, and legal and regulatory issues. You will also learn how to do a competitive audit and incorporate personas into an audit.

Tips on presenting audit results to stakeholders will help you deliver effective strategies.

Buy the book!

CW_Cover_Nichols-front-1650x2550

Enterprise Content Strategy: A Project Guide (by Kevin P. Nichols)

outlines best practices for conducting and executing content strategy projects. His book is a step-by-step guide to building an enterprise content strategy for your organization.

Enterprise Content Strategy draws on Kevin Nichols’ experience managing one of the largest and most successful global content strategy teams to provide an insider’s look at how to build an enterprise content strategy.

Full of definitions, questions you need to ask, checklists, and guidelines, this book focuses not on the what or why, but on the how.

Buy the book!

CW_Cover_Swisher-front-1650x2550

When you want to engage customers, you must have great content that speaks to them in their language. Success in foreign markets takes research, planning, and sensitivity regarding the culture, expectations, and buying habits of each target customer. Because of this, more and more companies are translating more content into more languages every day. But few companies have a strategy for managing their global content.

Global Content Strategy: A Primer (by Val Swisher) gives you the information you need to get started navigating the global content landscape. From tips on making your global content more accessible to details on how to ensure that your words and images are prepared for the world, this book provides information every global organization needs to be successful.

Buy the book!

CW_Cover_Yagodich-front-1650x2550

Author Experience: Bridging the Gap Between People and Technology in Content Management (by Rick Yagodich) focuses on the value of managing the communication process effectively and efficiently. It deals with this process from the point of view of those who create and manage content.

This book defines author experience, outlines the challenges that stand in the way of a good author experience, and provides a set of design patterns that will help you define and implement an author experience that improves content quality and author efficiency.

Buy the book!

Categories: DITA

Got Great Content? Enter The Customer Experience Recognition Awards Today

The Content Wrangler - Wed, 2015-07-01 15:52

Does your information development team deserve recognition for the good work they’re doing? Then consider entering the Customer Experience Recognition Awards (CERAs). The annual award ceremony, which takes place during the Information Development World conference, recognizes outstanding contributions to exceptional customer experiences by information developers (the folks responsible for creating content) in a variety of disciplines including technical communication, marketing, content strategy, customer support, translation, and product management.

Screen Shot 2014-06-25 at 2.31.23 PMSubmissions are welcome from companies, teams, project leaders, and consultants working in content development within any industry. Honorees demonstrate how content development is an integral part of the project or service and show collaborative effort between design, content development, and experience delivery to achieve business objectives.

Awards will be issued for exceptional work in these areas: accessibility, customer support, technical communication, employee engagement, information discovery, translation and localization, user community, and social media. Award recipients will be acknowledged during the CERA Awards Luncheon, Thursday, October 1, 2015 at the Doubletree Hotel San Jose, CA.

To enter, read the rules, the evaluation criteria, then submit your entry by the deadline: Friday, August 28, 2015.

The CERAs are sponsored by Acrolinx and brought to you by TECHWHIRL, The Content Wrangler, and Content Rules.

Categories: DITA

The convergence of web and mobile design

The actual title of the article I am referring to above is 7 future web design trends, by Jowita Ziobro. The trends are on target and the examples are clear. Worth a read. But what struck me is that the post is a reminder that the way to look at planning and development of web and mobile applications is […]

This post originally published on http://gilbane.com

Categories: DITA

The convergence of web and mobile design

The actual title of the article I am referring to above is 7 future web design trends, by Jowita Ziobro. The trends are on target and the examples are clear. Worth a read. But what struck me is that the post is a reminder that the way to look at planning and development of web and mobile applications is […]

This post originally published on http://gilbane.com

Categories: DITA

Why You Should Attend Information Development World 2015

The Content Wrangler - Mon, 2015-06-29 21:30

Two years ago, Val Swisher and I sat down and tried to figure out how to solve one of the biggest communication challenges facing businesses today: Schizophrenic brand experiences caused by unnecessarily incongruent content. Content produced by different teams of information developers, in different ways, with different words, with different tools, using different tones of voice, different style, different rules, but intended for the exact same audience.

Screen Shot 2015-06-29 at 11.31.21 AMWe decided the best way to bring attention to this important communication challenge was to launch a conference dedicated to helping brands think differently about how they create, manage, and deliver content. That event, Information Development World, turned out to be a great idea. We attracted 400 information developers—folks responsible for creating technical, marketing, and product-specific content—content designed to drive exceptional customer experiences with content.

What do we mean by incongruent content?

Customers expect a unified and consistent experience. But, most brands aren’t set up to deliver what customers expect. Silos get in the way. They damage brand. They negatively impact loyalty. They do nothing to increase sales.

The result of the silo’d approach is incongruent content; unnecessary variations in content experiences delivered to prospects and customers by brands.

Why does this matter?

Once a prospect buys a product or service, the content they interact with is no longer familiar. The instructions provided don’t look, feel, or sound anything like the marketing and sales materials that introduced them to your brand. Neither does the service contract, the warranty, the customer support website, the product documentation, nor the training materials. For no good reason, the content experience changes drastically—and not in a good way. That’s why organizations that recognize the importance of a unified customer experience have started rethinking what it means to be customer-centric.

After last year’s successful inaugural conference, we knew we had stumbled on to a great idea. We summarized some of our lessons learned in this video wrap-up of our 2014 event.

Why should you attend Information Development World 2015?

Screen Shot 2015-06-18 at 2.05.27 PMInformation Development World 2015 is the only conference dedicated to helping organizations rethink the way they create, manage, and deliver content experiences.

Last year, over 400 attendees from every conceivable industry sector convened in San Jose to learn from more than 100 of the world’s best and brightest content strategists, content marketers, information architects, community managers, experience designers, data scientists, translators, taxonomists, usability pros, content engineers, technical writers, medical writers, editors, indexers, videographers, storytellers, and more.

This year, in addition to over 80 presentations, case studies, demonstrations, and panel discussions, Information Development World also provides:

Will you join us?

If your job is to create an exceptional customer experience based on content, consider attending Information Development World 2015. The event takes place September 30-October 2, at the DoubleTree Hotel in San Jose, CA. The conference exists to help organizations learn to create content experiences that convert prospects and retain customers. We hope you’ll join us. If you’ve got questions, let us know.

Check out video interviews and keynote and featured presentations from last year’s event. Then, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Slideshare, and Instagram.

Categories: DITA

Gilbane pre-conference workshops announced

It’s only June but we’re already working hard on the 2015 conference program and want to share a bit of what you can look forward to. We’ve got a great lineup of pre-conference workshops that will be held Tuesday, December 1, the day before the main conference, December 2 – 3. Pre-conference workshops: Developing a […]

This post originally published on http://gilbane.com

Categories: DITA

Gilbane pre-conference workshops announced

It’s only June but we’re already working hard on the 2015 conference program and want to share a bit of what you can look forward to. We’ve got a great lineup of pre-conference workshops that will be held Tuesday, December 1, the day before the main conference, December 2 – 3. Pre-conference workshops: Developing a […]

This post originally published on http://gilbane.com

Categories: DITA

Know about deep linking?

We are close to completing the program for this year’s Gilbane Conference and have some topics we still need another speaker, or possibly panelist, for: Mobile and web deep linking / app indexing. What do these do for customer experience? What do they mean for content apps? What do you need to do about deep […]

This post originally published on http://gilbane.com

Categories: DITA

Know about deep linking?

We are close to completing the program for this year’s Gilbane Conference and have some topics we still need another speaker, or possibly panelist, for: Mobile and web deep linking / app indexing. What do these do for customer experience? What do they mean for content apps? What do you need to do about deep […]

This post originally published on http://gilbane.com

Categories: DITA

Beware the "Independent" Consultant Who Wants to Build You a Content Management System

Really Strategies - Wed, 2015-06-24 12:12

Beware the "Independent" ConsultantIt all seems like the logical next step. Hire the independent consultant who has been analyzing your business requirements for several months to build your next content management system. Who better to lead your organization to the CMS promise land? It doesn’t matter that building software is not their expertise, nor does it matter that they don't actually have a development staff. You like the leader, the onsite business analyst is strong, and you’ve had a great working relationship for a long time. This rosy picture plays out more often than one would think. There is no ill will or deceitful practice, it’s just a natural progression of a business relationship. But over the years we have found many pitfalls with this approach:

  1. Staff it and they will build ...something: If the consultant is truly “independent", they will have no interest in building a software solution. However, if they feel they can build the solution because they are leaving money on the table, they cobble together a development team made up of independent contractors and possibly partner with a small development firm that allows them to act like a general contractor, but none of the project team is an employee. This loosely organized tech team may not have the appropriate skill or bandwidth to complete the project, nor have many of them ever worked together before and they each may have different approaches and methodologies to develop the software.
  2. Analyzing and building are two different things: This is the "no duh" statement but often overlooked.  Just because a consultant can analyze and document business and technical requirements does not mean they have the vision or skill to build a solution that meets requirements. Think architect versus carpenter. Building a custom solution can get very messy very quickly and unless the consultant has the software development discipline (i.e., Agile experience), requirements will go unmet, shortcuts will be taken, and I venture to guess the schedule will be missed.
  3. Where is the “independence”?: Having an independent consultant bring together and lead the development team to build a solution is a lot like asking a lawyer to pick the judge they want for their trial. Of course the lawyer will pick the judge who sides with them more often. The same is true for a consultant who brings in a development team. It’s a biased situation. No one is really creating the checks and balances to hold the development team accountable. If the consultant remained independent, there would be a separation of church and state and a better likelihood that the project would succeed.
The observations above are all situations that we have encountered over the past 15 years since we started RSI Content Solutions. This is not to say that some independent consultants can’t pull off a software development project, but in our experience these projects usually don’t end well. How do we know this? RSI was once the “independent” consultant who one day was asked to build out a CMS. It felt so right, but quickly we learned we needed to operate differently and we did struggle. We eventually got it right, but it was a lesson from over 10 years ago that we still remember. Our suggestion is to make sure you keep your “independent” consultant truly independent and let the software solutions up to the people who do it every day.
Categories: DITA
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