Brushing your teeth with DITA: Leveraging relationships to improve usability

Presentation at the 28 May 2008 meeting of theĀ RTP DITA Users' Group by Shane Taylor, Computer Task Group. Originally presented at DITA 2006 by Shane Taylor and Karen Mobley (IBM).

After you have written your topics in DITA and created a table of contents with a DITA map, you can take your information architecture a step further and greatly improve the ability of your users to find the information they need by creating effective relationship tables. Using the simple documentation example of an information center on toothbrushing, we will demonstrate how to improve topic interlinking and usability by designing effective relationship tables which are easy for writers to implement.

We will cover the evolution of a relationship model which was developed for the IBM Director documentation, illustrating how changes to the model affect the relationship tables, and in turn, the inter-topic links in the information center. We will discuss the appropriateness of exceptions to the rule with the principle that usability for the customer trumps consistency. Examples will illustrate how application of the model -- and the judicious use of exceptions to the model -- improve the user experience.

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