[VIDEO] Bluesmart: The World’s First Connected Luggage

The Content Wrangler - Fri, 2016-02-12 04:11

Smart products are hitting the market daily. Everything from toothbrushes to frying pans are being reimagined and made intelligent. The San Francisco-based crew at Bluesmart have produced the world’s first Bluetooth-enabled connected luggage that allows — among other things — you to recharge your phone, locate it when lost, and weigh the contents before you arrive at the airport check-in counter.

Take a peek at this video review of Bluesmart from The Telegraph.

The post [VIDEO] Bluesmart: The World’s First Connected Luggage appeared first on The Content Wrangler.

Categories: DITA

Learn To Write, Publish and Launch Your Book

The Content Wrangler - Thu, 2016-02-11 22:36

Join Scott Abel, The Content Wrangler and Helen Chang, Founder of Author Bridge Media, for a free online video series entitled, “Write, Publish & Launch Your Book,” March 8-10, 2016. Learn how to create a book that can transform people’s lives, support your business, and position yourself as an expert.

This isn’t another “Write your book in one weekend” event. This is about getting your book into the hands of potential clients and finally having the return on investment you desire.

The line up is amazing. 18 writing, publishing and marketing experts will share the secrets to publishing success. And, it’s free.

What are you waiting for? Register today!

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Categories: DITA

Filmed in Zero Gravity

The Content Wrangler - Thu, 2016-02-11 15:01

According to ABC News, “OK Go band members spent three weeks in Russia filming the video for their new single, ‘Upside Down, Inside Out.’ The band says they spent around two hours and 15 minutes in weightlessness while filming the video at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center, near Moscow.”

We thought it was a fun combination of music and space technology. And, it’s a catchy tune as well.

The post Filmed in Zero Gravity appeared first on The Content Wrangler.

Categories: DITA

Should Marketing Content Be Translated Or Localized?

The Content Wrangler - Wed, 2016-02-10 04:19

In his highly informative webinar, Why We Shouldn’t Translate Marketing… And Why We Do It Anyway, Wayne Bourland, Director of Localization at Dell, tackles a common problem facing most businesses operating across international lines: how to produce efficient and scalable marketing content that also meets the unique cultural expectations of a foreign market. The issue is trickier than it seems and often misunderstood.

The crux of the problem, Bourland argues, is that many businesses fail to understand the difference between the two processes used to “translate” content—translation and localization. Both entail different means and resources; and both yield different results. In this post, we’ll cover Bourland’s main points: his thoughts on the translation vs. localization problem, and his proposed framework for balancing efficiency and quality in delivering globally-oriented marketing content.

Translation versus localization

For starters, translation is about crossing the language barrier, whereas localization is about crossing the cultural barrier.

Translation is about taking existing content and converting it to its closest equivalence in another language, while localization is about adapting a content’s “message” to make it more meaningful and relevant to a foreign market (even if it means significantly altering, or transcreating, the original content). Translation processes are more manageable and cost-effective, whereas localization processes are less controllable and costly.

Marketing content and the language/culture barrier problem

Let’s take a step back and consider the role that marketing content plays in a global product campaign. Businesses expand into foreign markets for one primary reason: to gain revenue by capturing market share. Sales revenue is contingent upon market demand; demand is preceded by product awareness; and product awareness is driven primarily by marketing operations. Following this sequence, it is clear that marketing content plays a critical role in the opening moves of a campaign.

But for marketing content to be effective, not only must the workflow be operationally sound (efficient, scalable, and cost-effective), the content itself must be capable of penetrating the target market; it has to resonate with prospective customers. This latter task often serves as the space for a major “disconnect.”

As Brand Quarterly’s Paula Shannon puts it, brands must “speak to customers not just in their language but in a voice they understand.” For a brand to “speak their language,” a good translation might suffice, but the content won’t necessarily “speak in a voice they understand.” To accomplish the latter goal, content needs to be localized—adapted to meet the cultural expectations of a local market–and not merely translated.  In other words, there’s a big difference between language and localization.

Language and “localized” language

Bourland opens the webinar with a humorous introduction: “English is my 3rd language…I spoke only Texan for the first 20 years of my life…I spoke only [U.S. Army] jargon for the next 10 years.” Joke aside, Bourland is providing an example of different localizations within the same language. Obviously, Texan and U.S. Army jargon share a common source language: English. But speaking to one group in the localized language of the other will not work in certain situations. The tone of speech, idioms, specific terminologies, and sentiments shared by one group will not always “translate” well into the other despite their common source language.

Knowing that differences exist between a language and localized uses of that language is critical to understanding the translation/localization issue. Content may be translated from one language to another, assuming that the words and structures have a proximate equivalence in the target language. But localization is a particular way of using language that reflects the experiences, activities, values, and sentiments shared within a cultural group. It’s an experience of language that is often felt rather than structurally perceived.

The translation/localization trade-off

From a business perspective, translation and localization imply different sets of pros and cons.

The translation process receives most of its source input from a marketing campaign that is developed in-house.  Because the original source is created and managed internally, the translation process is much more controllable with regard to scale, efficiency, and costs. However, this has a number of limitations. First, it would be unreasonable to expect a marketing team to have expert-level knowledge of all functional and cultural expectations in every target market. Second, the very fact that a marketing campaign is developed in-house—in other words, from a domestically “local” perspective–already assumes a particularly localized (read: exclusive) viewpoint. Third, the nuances contained within domestically-created messages will often get lost in translation.

Localization processes, on the other hand, are typically outsourced to local ad agencies in the target markets.  Local ad agencies are capable of producing more culturally relevant content. But this process too has limitations. First, local ad agencies have limited knowledge of a company’s culture (they’re hired guns, not employees). Second, ad agencies may create content with little detailed knowledge of a company’s marketing briefs. Last, locally-created content can sometimes be indecipherable to the home company, as the total content process—from inception to final product—might be carried out exclusively in a foreign language.

Businesses are then faced with a set of trade-offs:

  • Translation vs. localization
  • Efficiency vs. quality
  • Business expectations vs. market expectations

Striking a balance between these trade-offs is key to successfully creating a global message that also meets business objectives.

Managing efficiency in the translation process

As Bourland states in an article in Brand Quarterly, “we don’t translate to get good local copy.” Instead, he continues, “we translate for revenue, period.” Revenue dictates the need for a scalable process; one that is efficient, manageable, and cost-effective. Translation costs are a fraction of localized copy; and translation teams are best equipped to produce and deliver at scale.

In the graph below, Bourland explains how he was able to reduce the cost-per-word (CPW) and turnaround time by 50% in the translation process. By increasing machine translations over human translations, and replacing translation reviews with selective sampling (1,000-3,000 words per sample), Bourland was able to reduce CPW from $0.23 to $0.12. The reduction in translation CPW means an increase in profit margin.

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 3.09.19 PM

Having made the translation process more efficient, Bourland was able to effectively integrate the localization process. This presents another challenge. How do you decide which content (and how much content) to translate and localize? Assuming you are dealing with multiple foreign markets, how can you strategically allocate translation/localization efforts across multiple languages keeping in mind budgetary and other project-related constraints?

Integrating translation with localization

To tackle this challenge, Bourland suggests a tiered approach.

Start with integration at the organizational level

Executives and managers need to be fully aware of the capabilities and limitations of each operational unit that may be involved—marketing, translation, and ad agency—in relation to the translation and localization process.  This awareness is a fundamental step toward accomplishing the following:

  • Preventing misallocation of tasks due to ill-informed expectations (such as expecting localized content from the translation team)
  • Avoiding content silos in which multiple teams work on the same content project but in an isolated manner
  • Establishing better communication and coordination between teams; and
  • Developing benchmarks to manage the overall workflow with regard to time, quality, and cost

Once teams have been integrated, Bourland suggests working backwards from market to process.

Assess the value of markets

Which markets among those currently served are showing the strongest sales? This information helps establish a sense of priority; it can also serve as a benchmark from which to assess the potential effect of increased localization on sales revenues.

Which markets have the largest potential for revenue? Whether you are entering a new market or trying to compete for a larger share in an existing market, it is important to know which markets will require greater focus, effort, and investment based on potential returns.

Determine which markets and content are “locality-critical”

Not all foreign markets require localization. Bourland provides an example of the Nordic IT industry where the majority of the population speak English in addition to their domestic language. Localization may not be as critical in the Nordic regions as in other countries such as China where currently only a small fraction of the population speak English.

Similarly, not all portions of marketing copy need to be localized. Content that can be read literally (descriptive, technical, instructional, etc.) depend more on readability than rhetoric. By determining which markets and content are locality-critical, capital reserved for localization can be directed toward areas that need it the most.

Determine resource allocation

The ultimate goal is to keep the bulk of the effort on the translation side so that more capital is available for select localization projects. At Dell, Bourland was able to implement a 4:1 ratio in which roughly 80% of the effort was directed toward translation and 20% on localization. The reduction of expenses in the 80% allowed for greater capital investment in the 20%.

This ratio will not work for every company, as each company will have a different set of markets with different values and locality-critical regions. But a tiered approach does serve as an effective framework for balancing translation and localization processes in light of budgetary and resource constraints.


Content cannot cross the language barrier without some degree of transformation in message and meaning. The extent of the transformation depends on the connotative aspects of the message. Marketing content is packed with connotative nuances reflecting the cultural perceptions of those who created it.  It is this aspect that often gets “lost in translation,” as the feelings evoked by certain words and phrases cannot be “translated” into a culture that doesn’t share the same “code” for unpacking it.

Yet the conversion of marketing content from one language to another is fundamental to global product sales. This calls for a balanced approach that combines translation with localization.  And such an effort requires a clear understanding of the differences between both processes and close coordination of the teams involved. “If marketing and localization leaders invest time in pulling these often conflicting parties together,” Bourland states, “the end result is a highly scalable, polished global message that meets business objectives.” Only through a tightly integrated approach can a company deliver marketing content that achieves, “the best of both worlds” with regard to “scale and quality of message.”


The post Should Marketing Content Be Translated Or Localized? appeared first on The Content Wrangler.

Categories: DITA

[JOBS] DITA Information Experience Architect

The Content Wrangler - Tue, 2016-02-09 23:14
[JOBS] Hewlett Packard Enterprise is looking for an Expert Information Experience Architect to work with Global IT on designing an end-to-end content management system. Your job would be to deliver a modern, socially-connected, personalized and contextual information experience for Hewlett Packard Enterprise customers.   You would need to be able to work across all functions to set up a shared content environment between marketing, support, documentation, training based on a DITA system foundation. You will be a partner-centric individual, used to working cross-functionally to create a world-class content experience. Apply today!

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Categories: DITA

Intelligent Content: The Marketer’s Frontier

The Content Wrangler - Tue, 2016-02-09 17:51

By Marcia Riefer Johnston, special to The Content Wrangler

A year ago, I started working with the Content Marketing Institute team on stories related to intelligent content. Coming from a technical communication background, I knew about intelligent content from that perspective, but I wasn’t sure how it would apply to marketing.

Today, it’s still not clear exactly how intelligent content will eventually connect with what marketers do every day. I have talked with a lot of marketers who are intrigued by the promise of intelligent content. They would love to make their content more findable, more efficient to produce, more scalable, and more personalized. They get that content needs to be treated as a strategic business asset, not as part of a short-term campaign.

But marketing’s challenges, workflows, systems, tools, and goals differ from those of product documentation teams (the early adopters of intelligent content). The pain points between marketing and documentation are similar, but not identical. So, while some convergence seems inevitable, it may be a while before we have how-to stories that light the way for marketers who would like to put these concepts into action in their own realm.

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 9.33.02 AM

For marketers, intelligent content remains a frontier.

This is a good time, with the Intelligent Content Conference (ICC) coming up in March 2016, to review what intelligent content means, how the definition has evolved, and why many of us believe that today’s marketers will become tomorrow’s intelligent-content pioneers.

Imagine yourself as one of those pioneers. Let’s say you’ve been inspired by the stories of the earliest explorers—those who have proven the value of the intelligent-content approach in their own realms and have come back to tell their tales. You crave a map. But no one can give you the map you’re looking for.

If you set off with hope of returning with tales of your own—returning with the map that other marketers can follow—your immediate challenge is to figure out what questions to ask yourself. I aim to help you meet that challenge.

And, of course, I encourage you to register for ICC, where you can hear more tales from your fellow explorers. (You don’t have to be in marketing to attend—all are welcome—but now that the Content Marketing Institute owns ICC, the conference focuses on content strategy for marketers.)

The traditional definition

You’ve no doubt seen Ann Rockley’s traditional six-part definition:

“Intelligent content is content that’s structurally rich and semantically categorized and therefore automatically discoverable, reusable, reconfigurable, and adaptable.”

I won’t go into detail since these terms have been so widely defined. In case you’d like a refresh, here are summaries from a series of six articles I wrote earlier this year.

Structurally rich

Technology can do its magic only after structure is in place. People—not technologies—create the structure; you can restructure your content today without tools. When you move to intelligent content, start with structure.

Full article

Semantically categorized

To get the most from your content, create semantic categories—meaningful metadata—and train your team to use them consistently. Verify that your semantic categories support business goals and customer needs. Although semantic categories alone don’t make your content intelligent, your content isn’t intelligent without them.

Full article

Automatically discoverable

Metadata tagging drives search engines. The intelligence that you build into the content enables you to sort through mountains of information to discover the content you need. Customers and colleagues expect to find what they’re looking for—and even what they aren’t looking for but need—in your organization’s content.

Full article


While not every piece of content can be reused, and while reuse isn’t appropriate everywhere, the more reusable your content, the more it becomes a strategic asset. And the more intelligent—automated, widespread, and controlled—your reuse, the more benefits your organization realizes.

Full article


Modular content that can be automatically reconfigured enables you to give people only the information they need, where they need it, when they need it. You might not hear them, but when you deliver content in this way, customers and prospective customers say, ‘Whoa.’

Or not. The more sobering possibility is that they don’t even notice. They simply expect your content to reconfigure itself or to enable them to do the reconfiguring. People who have experienced reconfigurability—and by now, who hasn’t?—expect reconfigurability; any other experience leaves them feeling frustrated or shortchanged.

Full article

Adaptable (adaptive)

Your organization’s success may rest on creating content that can adapt to a variety of devices, to user-specific information, or to any number of other factors—content that basically says, I know you. I understand where you are. I get what you’re going through. Here, I have what you need right now. 

To create content that’s this easy and useful on the receiving end, you have to do a lot of things that may seem hard. The good news is that those hard things are becoming easier to achieve by the day. (Your competitors are figuring that out, too.)

Full article

 A Primer

An updated definition

The definition of intelligent content continues to evolve. In their new book, Intelligent Content: A Primer, Ann Rockley, Charles Cooper, and Scott Abel—pioneers of intelligent content—have refined the definition. Instead of six elements, they now list eight:

“Intelligent content is designed to be modular, structured, reusable, format-free, and semantically rich and, as a consequence, discoverable, reconfigurable, and adaptable.”

What’s significant about the updated definition, for the purposes of this article, is its newly pronounced fulcrum—as a consequence—which separates the five characteristics from the newly identified capabilities:

  • Discoverability
  • Reconfigurability
  • Adaptability

Why does this distinction between characteristics and capabilities matter? For one thing, as Ann, Charles, and Scott told me at Content Marketing World, the new distinction helps people communicate more effectively. When you’re talking with someone who is interested in what makes intelligent content tick, you can talk about the whole shebang—the characteristics and the capabilities. Get your geek on.

On the other hand, when you’re talking with someone who controls company purse strings, you probably want to keep the characteristics to yourself. Say “modular” or “format-free” to most VPs, and their eyes glaze over. To get your project funded, talk in terms of discoverability, reconfigurability, and adaptability. The three capabilities. The things that intelligent content makes possible. Turn the glaze into a twinkle.

What’s so special about the three capabilities? They have enabled the earliest content pioneers to create scalable, brand-differentiating customer experiences. And they can make your own pioneering as a marketer worth the risks.

Pioneering questions to ask yourself

Like any frontier, intelligent content has its perils. To give yourself the best chance of not just survival but success, ask yourself and your pioneering team the following questions.

  • What are my company’s pain points related to content and marketing?
  • How might an intelligent-content approach address those pain points?
  • What kind of improvements would most benefit my company?
  • What content model would support those improvements?
  • What small project might my team tackle to prove the value of our ideas?

Hat tip to Ann Rockley, intelligent content’s trail blazer, for helping to formulate these questions.

A hypothetical example of reuse

Let’s say that your marketing team publishes lots of articles, many of which appear first on blogs and later in print magazines (or vice versa). Let’s say that every time you reuse an article, taking it from one channel to another, people spend hours copying, pasting, reformatting, and reproofreading the content.

That effort—every second of it—is a pain point. It costs your company money. It takes people away from what they would otherwise be doing. 

How painful does this effort have to become to justify automating reuse? What would it take to dig into that question?

A hypothetical example of personalization

Let’s say that your team, which publishes lots of articles on your organization’s website, ends each one with a list of links to related articles. Let’s say that your system generates that list at random.

What if that list were personalized? In other words, imagine that your system knows that each site visitor comes “from x geography, searches y phrase, and visits z pages,” as content engineer Cruce Saunders says. Imagine that each time a visitor comes back, instead of showing a random list of related articles, you show “an xyz related content set.”

What would that kind of personalization mean for your company? How much more time would people spend on your site? How much more often would they share links to your articles? How many new visitors would those shared links bring to your site? How much would your sales or subscriptions—or whatever measures your business cares about—go up?

Standing Out From The Crowd

Calling all marketing pioneers

Oh, pioneers, to answer questions like the ones I’ve suggested, you need to summon your team’s most creative thinking to envision what’s beyond your horizon. You need to do some research—including reaching out to trail blazers in other departments and other organizations.

You’ll find lots of those trail blazers at ICC in March. (I’m going. Find me and say hi.)

The more strategically you pursue your questions, the more likely you are to find gold and return with your hands full of the glittery stuff, and readier you’ll be to show others the way.

Thousands of us want to hear the muddy details of your adventure: where you took wrong turns, what broke along the way, how you fixed it, what happened next, what you learned, where we should start. Meet us at the campfire.

Register today for the Intelligent Content Conference. Save $100 with the code WRANGLER100. 

Don’t miss Scott Abel, The Content Wrangler, at the Intelligent Content Conference. Scott will be presenting three sessions: A full-day workshop with Ann Rockley and Charles Cooper, March 7 (Introduction and Essentials of Intelligent Content for Marketing Professionals), a panel discussion (with representatives from Acrolinx, Hippo, Kanban and Marketing.AI), March 8 (The Best Tools for Multi-Channel Publishing), and a presentation, March 9 (Beyond Multi-Channel Publishing: How To Prepare Your Organization for the Future).

The post Intelligent Content: The Marketer’s Frontier appeared first on The Content Wrangler.

Categories: DITA

RSI Content Solutions Launches New Version of its Award-Winning RSuite Publishing Solution

Really Strategies - Tue, 2016-02-09 15:29

rsuite_logo_nocms.jpgRSI Content Solutions Launches New Version of its Award-Winning RSuite Publishing Solution 

Latest release provides enhanced integrated workflow and automated publishing capabilities, to be unveiled in live webinar on February 16.

Audubon, Pa.— February 9, 2016 — RSI Content Solutions, the industry-leading content agility company, announced today the availability of RSuite® 5, its next generation publishing solution based on the MarkLogic® platform.  The latest version provides a more tightly integrated user experience to efficiently create and manage all types of digital content.  In addition, improved navigation and workflow features provide the user with a visualization of workflow steps to better understand the state and status of individual and team work assignments.  These innovative advances in managing content and business processes significantly improve user efficiency and support our historic product time-to-market reduction of 50%.

 “We have taken a significant step forward with the release of RSuite 5” stated Lisa Bos, Chief Technology Officer at RSI Content Solutions.  “This version will provide a more integrated view of the content and assets to users and managers and immediately improve overall publishing efficiency."

 RSuite 5 builds on the solution’s core publishing capabilities, including:

  • Word-to-XML transformations
  • Multiple integrated browser-based authoring/editing tools
  • Support for Adobe InDesign as well as automated composition of PDF, HTML, EPUB and other outputs
  • Component content reuse
  • Semantic content enrichment integration and exploration

A live webinar showcasing RSuite 5’s new and improved publishing automation features and user interface will be held on Tuesday, February 16, 2016 at 10:00AM EST.  Interested participants can register here.

About RSuite

RSuite has been built specifically for publishers to serve as their centralized publishing solution. RSuite is optimized for the creation, management, repurposing and multi-format, multi-channel delivery of content by utilizing an enterprise?strength native XML repository which stores and indexes XML content in its natural hierarchical format.  In addition to its strong XML capabilities, RSuite manages any and all forms of digital assets (MS Word, PDF, images, audio, video, etc.) and all of its associated metadata. 

RSuite’s powerful and highly-configurable workflow engine allows customers to implement multiple workflows that incorporate both manual and automated tasks, such as transformations, packaging, delivery, and more.  Customers are implementing RSuite to manage the end-to-end publishing process, from content creation through multi-channel, multi-format deliveries.  For more information, please visit www.rsuitecms.com.


About RSI Content Solutions

For over 15 years, RSI Content Solutions has been at the forefront of implementing content agility solutions for publishers, media companies, Fortune 1000 businesses, government organizations, and more.  With headquarters outside Philadelphia, PA, USA, an engineering center of excellence in Chennai, India, and affiliate offices around the world, RSI has helped over 250 global organizations implement appropriate content agility solutions.  For more information, please visit www.rsicms.com.  

Categories: DITA

[VIDEO] What is Code?

The Content Wrangler - Tue, 2016-02-09 00:56

Watch this Bloomberg Business video and you’ll learn how computers and code work together to create the magic that we take for granted daily. Business week author Paul Ford explores the topic in this three minute clip.

The post [VIDEO] What is Code? appeared first on The Content Wrangler.

Categories: DITA

[Video] How To Plan A Great Presentation

The Content Wrangler - Sun, 2016-02-07 14:38

All great presentations have one thing in common: they are well organized. This video from our content partners at Common Craft illustrates how to plan your next presentation so that your audience easily understand what you have to say. It teaches:

  • Why effective presentations matter
  • How to organize and group ideas using sticky notes
  • How to use an outline to develop specific points
  • How to move your points into PowerPoint or Keynote slides
  • Why visuals are important and how to use them


Back to Top

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Categories: DITA

[FREE BOOK] Butterick’s Practical Typography

The Content Wrangler - Sun, 2016-02-07 02:24

Ty­pog­ra­phy is the vi­sual com­po­nent of the writ­ten word. And be­ing a pub­lisher of the writ­ten word nec­es­sar­ily means be­ing a ty­pog­rapher. This bookPractical Typography—will make you a bet­ter typographer. And, it’s free. Although, if you like the book, consider donating to the author, Matthew But­t­er­ick, for making his amazing work available online for all.

The post [FREE BOOK] Butterick’s Practical Typography appeared first on The Content Wrangler.

Categories: DITA

[WEBINAR] Evaluating Localization Providers: Results from a GALA Community Project

The Content Wrangler - Fri, 2016-02-05 05:52

Localization managers often complain that it’s difficult to assess and compare language services vendors – that they all look alike. When you add the challenge of understanding the supply chain for translation and localization services, even the most experienced procurement staff struggle to understand the complexities of pricing, supplier types, services, subcontracting relationships, and specialties. Some try to solve the problem with complicated RFPs, but find this is only marginally successful.

To address this common challenge, language industry experts from the Globalization and Localization Association (GALA) community formed a working group and carried out research to determine the fundamental parameters by which service providers can be measured and compared. This webinar will examine the results of their research – a list of twelve key dimensions in three main areas – that can help procurement staff compile clear data for evaluation and comparison purposes.

Join Scott Abel, The Content Wrangler and Véronique Özkaya, Chairman of the Board at GALA, for this free webinar to get a better understanding of the translation supply chain, learn about key metrics by which to measure and assess translation/localization providers, and the questions to ask yourself and your prospective language services vendors before embarking on a project.

Register today!

The post [WEBINAR] Evaluating Localization Providers: Results from a GALA Community Project appeared first on The Content Wrangler.

Categories: DITA

4 Ways To Create Content That Converts

The Content Wrangler - Thu, 2016-02-04 21:49

People dance around the topic of conversion with content marketing but never really explain how it actually pays for itself with sales. Maybe they don’t want to share their trade secrets—or maybe they don’t know. What we know is that is content can deliver sales if done right. Here are some approaches to consider.

#1 Find a Niche
Developing content to further marketing means writing to your target audience and addressing their concerns. That means drilling down. Start with your company’s unique selling propositions: what makes it great and how does it serve the customers? That can kick off ideas.

Example: Office supplies. Depending on the company, lots of customers may be small business owners stocking up on supplies. So one area for your content to explore could be the challenges they face, such as hiring, getting financial help to expand, tax planning, dealing with problem customers, managing a lean inventory system, etc.

With some ideas in place, Google them. See what else has been written on the topic. Instead of following the crowd, build some twists into your content topic to stand out. This way, your content has its own identity and becomes more valuable because the target audience doesn’t have 100 other places to find this information.

This won’t convert off the bat—but conversion starts with traffic, and you won’t get good traffic without offering content that’s distinctive to your brand Remember, there are a lot of voices shouting in the wilderness that can drown yours out.

#2 Build in Offers 

Let’s say you start a blog and push it out to get some traffic. People find your site and read your posts. Like any other media outlet, you can run ads for special offers. These can be sidebar banners or you can embed them directly into blog posts. Your offer doesn’t have to be a discount—it can be an eBook or infographic that solves a very specific problem…one that your product happens to solve. The reader clicks and downloads the eBook after entering in their contact information. Now you know a bit more about their interests and can contact them, perhaps with a specific offer. Or, you can combine the eBook offer with a discount code to see if this spurs them to buy.

#3 Retarget—with More Content
When you visit a company website, they’ll often retarget you with an ad in your Facebook feed. This can be effective, but you may lose out on potential clients with the immediate hard sell. Yet if you retargeted people with a specific content offer, you could get a better idea of their potential as a prospect and target them more effectively.

For example, a beauty site could retarget customers who visit its site with a video tutorial on eliminating dark circles. Those who click on that tutorial are more likely to have dark circles. Once they see the video, offer an eBook with even more tips. At that point, the potential customer is further qualified—and the landing page to download the eBook can capture their contact information. Then, you can target those clients specifically with email offers for products that remove dark circles. You can set up your retargeting to offer content with a range of problem solvers to further segment out people who have specific interests and thus address their concerns rather than push out different general advertisements that you hope will ring some bells.

#4 Reward Them
A compelling, exclusive content offer that accompanies a product offer can incentivize a customer to buy, such as a free eBook tutorial on cutting-edge wrinkle removal or access to how-to videos on a site that is password-protected. Another application is to build content into reward programs for frequent customers that no one else gets. Of course, this requires strong development work so that any content you offer is not easily found anywhere else. It’s unlikely you can make it unique—but you can certainly make it distinctive, and that will make the offer valuable.

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Categories: DITA

[Webinar] Information Architecture as an Organizing Discipline

The Content Wrangler - Thu, 2016-02-04 06:00

“Information” and “architecture” are broad and abstract concepts, but when they combine as “information architecture,” their scope is often narrowed and concretized to focus on the design of web applications with an emphasis on the presentation layer. We can reclaim this breadth and abstraction by reframing information architecture as an “organizing discipline” that intentionally organizes resources to enable interactions with them.

This perspective on information architecture puts conceptual modeling at the foundation and facilitates the discovery and reuse of organizing principles and patterns for arrangements and interactions. It enables information architects to work effectively on a much wider range of design problems and domains that include publishing, business to business transactions, information-intensive services, collaborative authoring, and behavioral economics.

Join Scott Abel, The Content Wrangler, and his special guest Robert J. Glushko, for this one-hour webinar focused on exploring why we should take a broad view of information architecture and treat it as an “organizing discipline” that can apply to much more than just web application design.

Register today!

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Categories: DITA

The ROI Of Customer Experience

The Content Wrangler - Wed, 2016-02-03 02:20

To understand the connection between customer experience (CX) and loyalty, Temkin Group examined feedback from 10,000 U.S. consumers that describes both their experiences with and their loyalty to 293 companies across 20 industries. Temkin found a strong correlation between customer experience and loyalty factors such as repurchasing, trying new offerings, forgiving mistakes, and recommending the company to friends and colleagues. While all three components of customer experience—success, effort, and emotion—have a strong effect on loyalty, Temkin finds that emotion is the most important element.

Source: Report: ROI of Customer Experience, 2015

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Categories: DITA

Rethinking DITA "Custom" Attributes

Dr. Macro's XML Rants - Tue, 2016-02-02 19:04
I had a bit of an epiphany today as regards the definition of "custom" attributes and their DITA conformance or lack thereof.

To date I think I have been consistent in saying "You can't define attributes for individual elements in a way that is a conforming DITA specialization."

But in discussing this today with some colleagues I realized I have been too limited in my thinking. In particular, I now think that @base is an appropriate specialization base for any "custom" attribute and can be combined with constraint modules to limit the appearance of those attributes to specific element types.

If the initial requirement is, for example, "I want the attribute @foo on table" then I think you can make this a conforming @base specialization as follows:

1. Declare a normal attribute domain module for your new attribute, specializing it from @base:


<!-- @foo attribute domain module: -->
<!ENTITY % me_fooAtt-d-attribute "foo CDATA #IMPLIED">

<!ENTITY me_fooAtt-d-att "a(base foo)" >
<!-- End of domain module -->

2. Define a constraint module that allows @foo on the elements you want it to be allowed on:


<!-- @foo attribute constraint module: -->

<!ENTITY me_footAttTableOnly-constraints
"(topic me_fooAttTableOnly-c)"

<!-- End of constraint module. -->

3. In your shell, include the domain module but *do not* add it to the @base overrides (the not including it is a constraint and needs to be declared as such on the @domains attribute, which our separate constraint module will do for us):

<!ENTITY % me_fooAtt-d-dec
PUBLIC "urn:pubid:example.com:dita:attributes:me_fooAttDomain.ent"
<!-- Constraint: Not including @foo in base attribute extensions: -->
<!ENTITY % base-attribute-extensions
4. In your shell, include the constraint module:

<!-- ============================================================= -->
<!-- ============================================================= -->

<!ENTITY % me_fooAttributeConstraint.def
PUBLIC "urn:pubid:example.com:dita:constraints:me_fooAttributeConstraint.mod"

5. In your shell, add the constraint domains contribution to the @domains attribute:

<!ENTITY included-domains

You've now declared a specialization of @base but then constrained it to only be allowed on <table>, as defined in the separate constraint module.

The 1.3 specification says this about the @base attribute:

"A generic attribute that has no specific purpose. It is intended to act as a base for specialized attributes that have a simple value syntax like the conditional processing attributes (one or more alphanumeric values separated by whitespace), but is not itself a filtering or flagging attribute. The attribute takes a space-delimited set of values. However, when acting as a container for generalized attributes, the content model will be more complex; see Attribute generalization <http://docs.oasis-open.org/dita/v1.2/os/spec/archSpec/attributegeneralize. html> for more details."
-- http://docs.oasis-open.org/dita/v1.2/os/spec/common/select-atts.html#select-atts

As long as your attribute's values will satisfy the requirement that "The attribute takes a space-delimited set of values." then your attributes will be conforming instances of @base.

An interesting implication of using @base is that normal generalization processing will convert @foo="bar" to base="foo(bar)". Which means you can also author @base attributes using that syntax (just as you can author @props using the same syntax, e.g. props="mycondition(myvalue)", which is equivalent to having a @props specialization named "@mycondition" with the value "myvalue"). In particular, this provides a standard way to interchange documents in terms of the OASIS-defined vocabulary without loss of information by generalizing specialized attributes to their @base and @props bases (which is part of the point of attribute specialization in the first place).

The result of all this is that you have an attribute this is a conforming specialization of @base and it's limited, via constraint, to only those places that you want to allow it. Your intent as a grammar designer is clear: I want this attribute to be limited to these element types.

If the constraint module isn't used (but the attribute domain is in the normal way), all your existing documents that have @foo on <table> will continue to be valid, which is one test for the correctness of a constraint. If they are generalized so @foo becomes base="foo(bar)" they will also continue to be valid.

So I reverse my earlier position on the appropriateness and conformance of element-type-specific attributes: the @base attribute combined with the constraint mechanism allows it without having to play any semantic tricks. Interchange is preserved through generalization, everyone is happy, and peace and prosperity reigns across the land.
Categories: DITA

How Global Is Your English: 8 Ways To Keep It Simple And Save Big

The Content Wrangler - Tue, 2016-02-02 16:02

By Marcia Riefer Johnston

What the *&^! does that mean? We’ve all said it. Well, we’ve all said something like that. In fact, you can’t know what *&^! stands for. It’s ambiguous. If even I don’t know what word should go there, how in the world would a translator know what to do with it?

Why make your translator’s job harder—and more expensive—than it has to be? Why not remove ambiguity in the first place?

That’s what Global English helps writers do. Along the way, it saves companies big translation bucks. Greg Adams, a managing editor at Cook Medical, gives this example:

“After starting to use Global English, our translation costs decreased by $1 million in 18 months. And we received many positive reviews from overseas colleagues about the increased usability of our translations.”

What would your boss say to results like that?

I learned about Global English from a webinar led by Greg Adams (quoted above) and Matthew Kaul on The Content Wrangler channel. This article summarizes their main points. If you create English content for a global audience, you’ll find their points valuable even if your text is never translated and even if you’ve heard it all before.

What is Global English?

Greg and Matthew define Global English (also known as International English) as “A form of written English that is optimized for translation … that has powerful benefits even when you’re not writing for translation.”

Follow Global English guidelines even if your English isn’t translated. Greg Adams & @MatthewJK [blog-post-URL] Click to tweet

In this sense, Global English may remind you of plain English (which Wikipedia defines as “a generic term for communication in English that emphasizes clarity, brevity, and the avoidance of technical language—particularly in relation to official government or business communication”). Some of the practices are the same. And in both cases, the benefits apply to native speakers, too. The main difference is that plain English doesn’t address writing for an international audience. Global English does.

To understand what Global English is, understand what it is not:

  • It’s not prescriptive grammar (like the so-called rule “Never start a sentence with and”).
  • It’s not dumbed-down English (it simply helps you communicate more clearly).
  • It’s not stilted (it sounds natural to native speakers).


Global English accomplishes two important objectives:

  • It eliminates ambiguity.
  • It eases translation.


Who benefits from Global English?

If you follow the Global English practices in your source English text, you’ll help many people:

  • Translators (they’re more likely to translate correctly)
  • Nonnative English readers (they rely on what might seem like small cues—like the and an—to make sense of sentences)
  • NonEnglish-speaking readers (they get better results when they use Google Translate or other machine-translation services)
  • Native English readers (even they are more likely to understand your content)
  • Subject-matter experts (understanding of the subject matter doesn’t guarantee understanding of ambiguous text)
  • Visually impaired readers (people who rely on screen-reading software are more likely to get an accurate sense of the content)
  • Patients (all of us need the clearest possible understanding of information about our health)
  • Employees (document reviews happen faster when people can understand the content as it’s being developed)



What are Global English techniques we can use right away?

Global English techniques are based on evidence—on the experiences of translators and nonnative speakers. Here are Greg and Matthew’s top recommended techniques that you can put to use right away.

1. Keep most sentences under 30 words.

Long sentences aren’t necessarily hard to understand. A 50-word sentence can be more clear and helpful than a 5-word sentence. Don’t take put too much stock in word count. The longer the sentence, though, the more likely it is to contain ambiguity.

Look for opportunities to increase clarity by breaking up long sentences.

Example: This sentence contains 30 words—enough to give you lots of flexibility, plenty to convey a single thought, and fewer than many of the sentences in your company’s typical content.

Sample the sentences your company puts out. How many are under 30 words?

2. Keep the articles and other determiners (a, an, the, that, etc.). 

Articles and other determiners matter. I’m talking about those little words that alert us to a noun coming: a, an, the, this, that, those, my, her, his, its, their, every, many, one, two, second, last. Writers often think that removing these words makes their text more concise. In fact, these words give people cues they need to extract meaning.

When you leave out the the, people have to supply a determiner for themselves. Why risk having them supply the wrong one?

Example: Block open port on catheter fitting. <— What the *&^! does this mean? It could mean any of the following:

  • Block [the] open port on [the] catheter fitting.
  • Block [an] open port on [the]catheter fitting.
  • Block open [the] port on [the] catheter fitting.

Use the the. Don’t make your translators or anyone else guess what you mean.

3. Include all the important information. 

Have you ever heard a writer say, “People will figure it out”? Don’t assume that context gives people enough information to figure out meaning.

Example A: Store in a loose coil. <— What the *&^! does this mean?

Better: Roll the cord into a loose coil for storage.

Example B: Verify graft position. <— What the *&^! does this mean?

Better: Verify that the graft is in the correct position.

Exercise your critical thinking to make sure that you don’t leave important information between the lines.

4. Avoid slashes (/). 

A slash (/) can be interpreted various ways.

Example: Advance the catheter/sheath. <— What the *&^! does this mean? It could mean any of the following:

  • Advance the catheter and the sheath simultaneously.
  • Advance either the catheter or the sheath.
  • Advance the catheter-sheath unit.

5. Generally, convert passive voice to active voice. 

Passive voice isn’t wrong or bad. Use it as needed. Otherwise, use active voice.

How do you recognize passive voice? You might think you know, but do you? Even English teachers sometimes get this wrong. Passive voice includes a be-verb (am, are, were, was, etc.) combined with the past-participle (-ed) form of the main verb.

Example: The cat was chased. <— What the *&^! does this mean? Who or what was chasing the cat? Here, the passive voice obscures this key information.

Better: The cat was chased by the mouse. <— This version is still passive, but at least it tells us who did the chasing. If you want to emphasize the cat, this phrasing may make sense.

Even better (usually): The mouse chased the cat. <— This version uses active voice, which is generally more clear, informative, and translatable.

Some languages have no appropriate equivalents for certain passive constructions. Who knew? I didn’t—until I listened to Greg and Matthew’s webinar.

The more you know about be-verbs—including and beyond their role in forming passive voice—the more you can tighten and strengthen your writing, and the more money you save in translation. For more, see my article “Write Tight(er): Get to the Point and Save Millions.”

6. Use fewer nouns. 

Lots of corporate writing is noun-heavy; it’s full of nominalizations. A nominalization is the noun form of a verb or adjective. For example, output is a nominalization of the verb put out. The poor is a nominalization of the adjective poor.

Like passive verbs, nominalizations have their place. They aren’t evil. But overusing them bogs your writing down.

Example: The operation of the system increases efficiency. <— What the *&^! does this mean? Whose operation are we talking about?

Here, operation is a nominalization. It would help (after you figure out what this sentence means) to use its verb form, operate, instead.

Other nominalizations: utilization, facilitation, activation, completion, movement, reaction, discovery. Alternatives: use, enable, activate, complete, move, react, discover.

Here’s a tip from Greg and Matthew. Watch for –ation and –ment words. Also watch for the little phrase of the. Seriously. Grab a few chunks of English text from your website or a typical e-book, and search for ation, ment, and of the. Think of your results as a big opportunity.

7. Avoid incomplete sentences in bullet points. 

Because word order varies from one language to another, translators can have a tough time with incomplete sentences in bulleted lists. So don’t use incomplete sentences as bullet items.

In other words, don’t do this (example from Greg and Matthew’s slide):

Marcia's Global English post—image1

Instead, make each bullet point a complete sentence, like this:

Marcia's Global English post—image2

This approach increases the efficiency, ease, and accuracy of translation.

8. Give pronouns clear antecedents. 

In English, pronouns—including which, it, she, each, these, those, that—are words that stand in for other words or phrases. (Some languages don’t have pronouns that can stand in for phrases, another thing I learned from this webinar.) When you use a pronoun with no clear antecedent, you risk confusing readers.

Example A: Our new monitor has virtually no background noise, which substantially reduces the number of false positives. <— What the *&^! does this mean? What exactly does the which refer to?

Better: Our new monitor has virtually no background noise, a design improvement that substantially reduces the number of false positives. 

Example B: To sterilize a reusable product using an autoclave, it must first be properly cleaned and disinfected. <— What the *&^! does this mean? Does the it refer to the product or the autoclave?

Better: To sterilize a reusable product using an autoclave, the autoclave must first be properly cleaned and disinfected.

I have to make my best guess on that last one. So would a translator.


Here’s what your writing teams can do today to raise the quality of its English text and lower the cost of translations:

  1. Keep most sentences under 30 words.
  2. Keep the articles and other determiners (a, an, the, that, etc.).
  3. Include all the important information.
  4. Avoid slashes (/).
  5. Generally, convert passive voice to active voice.
  6. Use fewer nouns.
  7. Avoid incomplete sentences in bullet points.
  8. Give pronouns clear antecedents.

There’s more to Global English than these eight points, of course. To learn more, listen to Greg and Matthew’s webinar for yourself, and look into the resources they point to.

You may be on your way to saving $1 million in 18 months, as Greg’s company did. It could be your boss saying, Holy *&^!

Know what I mean?

The post How Global Is Your English: 8 Ways To Keep It Simple And Save Big appeared first on The Content Wrangler.

Categories: DITA

Emotion: The Missing Link in Customer Experience

The Content Wrangler - Tue, 2016-02-02 07:29

Creating clear, concise, and consistent content isn’t enough. You also need to understand how your content makes people feel. The goal, of course, is to make your customers feel good. Empathy—defined as “identification with and understanding of another’s situation, feelings, and motives”—is a key success factor in delivering a great customer experience with content.

This Temkin Group video shows the importance of emotion when it comes to an organization’s approach to customer experience. Visit the Customer Experience Matters blog for more information on emotion.

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Categories: DITA

What Is IBM Watson And How Does It Work?

The Content Wrangler - Tue, 2016-01-26 22:18

Learn how IBM Watson can you can find value and insights hidden in the mountains of structured and unstructured content we struggle to understand every day. It’s not a search engine. It’s a powerful supercomputing system that understands context that can draw inferences to potential answers through a broad array of linguistic models and algorithms.

See how Watson, the powerful cognitive computing engine, works in this Think Academy video from IBM.


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Categories: DITA

Smart Machines: IBM’s Watson And The Era Of Cognitive Computing

The Content Wrangler - Mon, 2016-01-25 22:27

If you are interested in learning more about cognitive computing and understanding what this new era means for business, you’ll want to read “Smart Machines: IBM’s Watson and the Era of Cognitive Computing” by John E. Kelley III and Steve Hamm (2015 Columbia Business School Publishing).

To get a taste before you purchase, read the first chapter “A New Era of Computing”.

Smart Machines: IBM’s Watson and the Era of Cognitive Computing

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Categories: DITA

Documentary — The Story of Content: Rise of The New Marketing

The Content Wrangler - Mon, 2016-01-25 21:18

Technology has changed the game. Consumers can ignore advertising and marketing at will. To break through the clutter, brands need to tell remarkable stories worth listening to and become the media in the process.

The Story of Content: Rise of the New Marketing, a new documentary by the Content Marketing Institute, is the first comprehensive film of its kind for the industry. It explores the evolution of content marketing through the eyes of the world’s biggest leading brands such as Red Bull, Kraft and Marriott; and marketing influencers, including Joe Pulizzi, Ann Handley, Scott Stratten, Jay Baer and more. Featuring case studies from early pioneers to today’s marketing innovators, you’ll learn how content marketing has been–and will continue–to change business and media forever

Can’t get enough content marketing content? Explore the discussion guide.

Categories: DITA
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