A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.

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A Team Approach to Information Architecture

A case study of a team approach to information architecture at Duke University by graduates of the Duke Continuing Studies Technical Communication Certificate program.

Olson, Amy, Sangita Koli and Dino Ruggiero. Carolina Communique (2008). Articles>Business Communication>Information Design>Content Management


Alternatives to XML: Keeping Down your Document Conversion Costs

While I'm a big fan of XML for many purposes, it's a misconception that it's the single best solution in every scenario, and it's worthwhile to consider the alternatives in situations where the benefits of XML are not necessary. In this article, I discuss alternatives to XML, SGML, and HTML that might be suitable when budgets are more limited. While XML is perfect for highly coded information, other options can work well for many kinds of information. Markup languages are at the high end of the cost spectrum, so if you don't need the benefits they provide, you certainly should consider the alternatives discussed below.

Gross, Mark. Data Conversion Laboratory (2009). Articles>Content Management>Information Design>XML


Are Structured Authoring and Wiki Opposing Forces?

There are two camps in technical documentation. There’s the “quick web” folks who connect easily and author easily, and then there’s the “structured quality” camp that requires more thoughtful testing and time spent on task analysis and information architecture.

Gentle, Anne. Just Write Click (2007). Articles>Content Management>Information Design>Wikis


Back-End Designs and the CMS Cycle of Disillusionment

Usually, the one thing missing from the planning of a WCM-driven web site is what's most likely to shoot the implementation in the foot: the functional design of the CMS back-end. The form and function of how the CMS will work, look and feel for the end-user of the system, not the visitor to the web site, is too often overlooked. This is odd: isn't the rationale for getting a CMS in the first place usually based on some kind of ROI in efficiency in actually producing the content and sites?

Bloem, Adriaan. CMSwatch (2009). Articles>Content Management>Information Design>Content Strategy


Better Content Management through Information Architecture

Content Management Systems promise so much: content is easier to publish, easier to update, and easier to find and use. Lots of promises, but do CMSs really deliver? Masood Nasser examines why Content Management Systems often fail and shows how Information Architecture can come to the rescue.

Nasser, Masood. Boxes and Arrows (2007). Articles>Content Management>Information Design>Content Strategy


Building a Content Framework

A content framework is a library of content types and metadata along with detailed guidelines for how to use the framework to create specific customer experiences. A content framework provides the underlying concepts, best practices, guidelines and structure to enable you to rapidly design, build, test and deliver an effective customer-centric content experience. This article provides an overview of the components of a content framework.

Rockley, Ann. Rockley Bulletin (2006). Articles>Content Management>Information Design


Building a Document Delivery System from Off-the-Shelf Standards-Conformant Parts

OK. So you have your documents in XML. How do you deliver them to readers? You've heard great things about separation of form and content, and would like different kinds of readers to see the documents styled in different ways. And in order to make the collection of documents more useful, you would like to have full-text search. The quality assurance people would like some help with tools for checking documents and finding errors and inconsistencies in existing ones. Oh, and by the way, we just took a budget cut, so can you do it without breaking the bank?

Sperberg-McQueen, C.M. IDEAlliance (2004). Articles>Content Management>Information Design>XML


Content Curation versus Content Creation

Content curation is much easier than content creation, because you don’t have to strain for original thought. Just note something interesting, maybe make a few remarks, and voila, you’re satisfying your hungry audience’s need for information.

Johnson, Tom H. I'd Rather Be Writing (2010). Articles>Content Management>Content Strategy>Information Design


Content Curation: A Manifesto

A Content Curator is someone who continually finds, groups, organizes and shares the best and most relevant content on a specific issue online. I think that professional writers and technical writers should consider a move towards this role. We already search for and find the best content, sift through loads of content, discard poor content, and publish the most worthy content whenever a software release goes out. This description also sounds like something a content strategist would do as part of their analysis of the content.

Gentle, Anne. Just Write Click (2009). Articles>Content Management>Information Design>Technical Writing


Content Reuse the Easy Way

For years you've been hearing about how structured authoring and XML-based workflows can help technical authors reuse content more efficiently. By converting all of your topics to an XML standard, investing in a CMS, and building custom DTDs and XSLT translations, you can avoid having to maintain duplicate content. The downside? Months of time invested in research, evaluation, and conversion only to be followed by a steep learning curve as your team adjusts to a new workflow.

Haiss, Craig. HelpScribe (2010). Articles>Content Management>Information Design>XML


Converting to XML: Is it Always the Answer?

Although managing costs is important anytime, it is especially important in today's economic reality where budgets are shrinking drastically. Getting your money's worth as well as what you need to support your data should be a core factor of any data project. The two biggest cost factors are the type of conversion work you need done and how much of it you'll need. This article focuses on how your goals for your project relate to the output format you choose, and how that format impacts costs. While some outputs, like XML, provide higher capabilities, they also cost more to create.

Gross, Mark. Data Conversion Laboratory (2009). Articles>Content Management>Information Design>XML


Fixing Enterprise Architecture: Balancing the Forces of Change in the Modern Organization

There's long been something fairly unsatisfying about the relationship that enterprise architecture has had with the business side of most organizations. Recently there's a growing realization that traditional enterprise architecture as its often practiced today might be broken in some important way. What might be wrong and how to fix it are the questions du jour.

Hinchcliffe, Dion. ebiz (2009). Articles>Content Management>Information Design


Get Smart With SharePoint Documents

Given the pressures on firms to provide increased value at lower costs, it’s imperative that they find ways to reduce the costs of creating and managing documents and increase their value to clients and personnel. Microsoft SharePoint provides a range of features to make your firm’s documents “smarter,” from capturing rich metadata to automating workflows to intelligent search. As applied, these features can transform passive documents into active, reusable resources. In this article I’ll describe some of the ways that SharePoint can reduce the effort to create, manage and retrieve documents and increase their value, as smart documents, to both your firm and its clients.

Gerow, Mark. End User SharePoint (2009). Articles>Content Management>Information Design>Microsoft SharePoint


Getting a Handle on Your Content Types

“Content types” are among the least understood, and yet most potent, aspects of user experience and web design. Most people encounter them for the first time when implementing a grand-scale content management system (CMS) because you have to define content types before building templates for each kind of content you’re going to publish. Because they associate content types so closely with CMS, some make the mistake of equating content strategy with content management. They’re not the same thing, though they are certainly related. Your content strategy specifies the content types that will then be modeled for your CMS.

Content Strategy Noob (2009). Articles>Content Management>Information Design>Content Strategy


Het Managen van “Schulden”

Een veelvoorkomend aspect van content management werk binnen uw CMS dat tóch vaak over het hoofd wordt gezien, kan worden omschreven als het managen van schulden, oftewel “managing debt”. Taken binnen het CMS die worden uitgevoerd op een “goed-genoeg-voor-nu” manier, in plaats van op een hele goede (slimme, efficiënte) manier, vergroten uw “schuld”. Dit komt omdat deze aanpak later extra correcties vereist en onderhoud tot een lastige, tijdrovende taak maakt.

Crossphase (2010). (Dutch) Articles>Content Management>Information Design>Planning


Information Architects and Their Central Role in Content Management

The process of content management begins when an organization comes to the realization that it needs a system to manage content. While the interpretation of the term content management (CM) can be as simple as a set of guidelines for organizing and maintaining content, more typically today it means a sophisticated software-based system. A full-featured content management system (CMS) takes content from inception to publication and does so in a way that provides for maximum content accessibility and reuse and easy, timely, accurate maintenance of the content base.

Warren, Rita. ASIST (2001). Articles>Content Management>Information Design>Content Strategy


Information Architecture of Content Management

When people think about content management, they generally think about it from a systems perspective, focusing primarily on tools and technology. While it is true that content management usually requires a technological solution, it also requires that content be designed for reuse, retrieval, and delivery to meet your authors' and customers' needs. Content management requires that tools be configured to support authoring, reviewing, and publishing tasks, but first, those tasks must be designed. Designing content and the processes to create, review, and publish it is what information architecture is all about. The Information Architecture section of The Rockley Report will focus on the different aspects of information architecture for content management. This article introduces you to some of the components of information architecture that we will cover in The Rockley Report over time.

Rockley, Ann. Rockley Bulletin (2004). Articles>Content Management>Information Design>Content Strategy


Information Modeling: A Practical Approach   (PDF)

Information models are a critical component of single sourcing, enterprise content management, and dynamic content management. The information model is your blueprint for the effective writing, structuring, and delivery of reusable content. This session explains how to design information models, including information product models and element models. It also explains the role of metadata and how to effectively design it.

Rockley, Ann. STC Proceedings (2003). Articles>Information Design>Content Management>Project Management


Information Technology: Trojan Horse of Information Overload

Information technology has become the Trojan Horse of information overload. It has been invited into the organization as some magical gift that will bring greater efficiency and reduced cost. Once inside, it feeds on resources and spews out unimaginable quantities of low quality data. Information technology has become the problem. The solution is to invest in people again.

McGovern, Gerry. New Thinking (2002). Articles>Technology>Information Design>Content Management


Managing “Debt”

A common but easily overlooked aspect of the Content Management work within your CMS can be seen as "managing debt". Tasks within the CMS that are done in a good-enough-for-now manner, instead of in a really good (i.e. smart, efficient) way, increase your "debt", as they will require extra fixes and corrections later and make maintenance of the system increasingly tedious and time-consuming.

Crossphase (2010). Articles>Content Management>Information Design>Planning


Managing the Complexity of Content Management

Content management systems suck. Or so you would think from the strife heard from analysts and practitioners alike. And yet, many websites regularly publish vast amounts of information with superior control and ease compared to manually editing pages. So where’s the disconnect between what’s possible and the too-often failure of CMS?

Lombardi, Victor. Boxes and Arrows (2004). Articles>Content Management>Information Design>Content Strategy


Manifesto For The Content Curator: The Next Big Social Media Job Of The Future?

A Content Curator is someone who continually finds, groups, organizes and shares the best and most relevant content on a specific issue online. The most important component of this job is the word "continually." In the real time world of the Internet, this is critical. In an attempt to offer more of a vision for someone who might fill this role, here is my crack at a short manifesto for someone who might take on this job.

Bhargava, Rohit. Social Media Today (2009). Articles>Content Management>Content Strategy>Information Design


The Meaning of Knowledge Management

We hear the term knowledge management bandied about. It sounds suspiciously like a trendy new phrase for what we used to call 'documentation.' In truth, knowledge management is more than documentation. It encompasses documentation, data management, library management, and information design. Knowledge management is increasingly important; as the amount of content has increased, the task of locating the information in the content has become more difficult. You see, information is different from content. And knowledge is something that derives from information.

HyperWrite (2004). Articles>Knowledge Management>Information Design>Content Management


Moving from Web Management to Information Management: Four Things You Can Do Now

Web Managers must think globally (information) and act locally (Web) all the while trying to widen your universe and build the internal business relationships which will allow your organization to manage its information more holistically now or in the future.

Welchman, Lisa. WelchmanPierpoint (2009). Articles>Content Management>Content Strategy>Information Design


The Odd Couple: SharePoint and Librarians

How many of us go to work with stories to tell our co-workers? You wanted to talk about a recent decision you had to make. A co-worker could want to complain about the poor management of a project. Usually, co-workers gather around the "water cooler" during breaks to "cool-off" and share recent experiences with fellow employees. It could be productive thoughts on assignments and projects that the organization is working on. SharePoint can help "capture" these ideas by becoming a vehicle to allow staff to share what they think about certain projects or actions that the organization or staff has participated in.

Weldon, Lorette S.J. LLRX (2010). Articles>Content Management>Information Design>Microsoft SharePoint



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