Browsing articles in "Content Strategy"

Technical Writing Outsourcing: Helping Your Business Toward Success

Feb 14, 2019   //   by Josh Gatus   //   Blog, Content Strategy, Outsourcing, Tips for Doc and Tech Comm Managers  //  No Comments

blue and gold text that reads: outsourcing technical writing: a forum on a banner. Beside the text are four interlinking puzzle pieces with different symbols on them in gold: icons of people and a fountain pen nib.

In-house, outsourced, onshore, nearshore, and offshore outsourcing offers countless possibilities. How can outsourcing help? Companies have resorted to outsourcing for both foreign and domestic contracts for decades. We’ve seen this practice extensively in quality assurance and programming functions.

Technical writing outsourcing comes with a lot of risks and benefits. Many technical writers think that once their company outsources, they must lay-off existing writers, which results in reduced morale of their respective teams. Outsourcing often catches the blame as a cause of disruption, dysfunction, and organizational failure. In many cases, these negative outcomes actually result from poor management, including poor planning and managing of outsourcing.

Outsourcing, if done properly, can help your business improve both in processes and content quality. A multicultural team can give you an advantage. If managed well, it improves global responsiveness, provides quicker response times, and increases your team’s cultural understanding of your customers. Technical writing outsourcing can expand capacity at lower cost, give you a larger team, and produce higher output.

Barry Saiff, founder and CEO of Saiff Solutions, created a roadmap to outsourcing success in his book Outsourcing Technical Writing: A Primer. In this roadmap, one of the sequences involves Choosing an outsourcing partner. You want a vendor who is capable of meeting your needs, with a broad commitment to excellence. So, how will you choose a trusted partner for your documentation?

Technical Writing Outsourcing: Factors to Consider

Here are some of the factors to consider:

  1. Be careful about the country you choose – Consider factors such as language, infrastructure, economic growth, stability, and cultural fit.
  2. Get to know your vendor – Are they knowledgeable, competent, and honest? What types of quality control practices or systems do they have in place?
  3. Learn about your vendor’s approach to management – Instead of sharing your own management philosophy (which amounts to asking leading questions), ask probing questions about their attitudes.
  4. Take IT and data security very seriously – For example, ensure that their employee and consultant contracts include confidentiality clauses.
  5. Understand the vendor’s ownership and organizational structure.
  6. Ask for references or find them on your own, and be very careful about contracts.
  7. Before embarking on a large, risky project, try out the vendor in a smaller, lower risk pilot project.

Do you want to know more about the Roadmap to Outsourcing Success? Learn more about technical writing outsourcing to give your team an extra boost!

Head on over to XML Press and grab a copy of Outsourcing Technical Writing: A Primer today. You can also purchase the book on Amazon.

The New Era of Content: Why Chatbots Matter

Jan 24, 2019   //   by Barry Saiff   //   Blog, Content Strategy  //  No Comments

A robot sitting crosslegged with a laptop on a blue banner title with the words 'The Era of New content: Why Chatbots Matter'

The way we deliver content has evolved through Siri, Alexa, Cortana, and other similar chatbots. Chatbots, an emerging technology using AI (Artificial Intelligence), have piqued the interest of small and big organizations to provide succinct, correct answers to the user’s queries in a conversation, automatically.

Organizations with content at scale can adapt their content framework to new methods and mediums of content delivery. Organizations who have yet to adopt the use of chatbots can look into how this growing technology can work for them. Ready to use content will ensure a smoother adaptation of chatbots or any other emerging technologies.

Transitioning to chatbots can only be effective if the technology is fed with structured content that it can easily process.  When content is structured and processed well, the chatbot identifies user intent and extracts relevant information, which improves the user experience.

How can we improve content for chatbots?

One way to structure your content is through microcontent. Microcontent is a unit of information structured for human brains and machines to process easily. Information that is broken into chunks can be retrieved, re-used, and re-purposed.

Technical writers document complex materials suitable for any audience. They write for clarity and accuracy. The broad technical skills of these writers help communicate information to users with diverse backgrounds. Using microcontent, technical writers can chunk information into the right context. This makes content adaptable in emerging technology for content delivery.

Technical communicators aim to satisfy our customers by giving them the best user experience and providing the information they need. Whether you’re using chatbots or other interfaces, applying microcontent will improve the accessibility of your content.

There is so much more to learn about chatbots and microcontent. Click here to discover how applying microcontent can impact your transition to using chatbots.

Achieve Inner Mastery in Managing Content Development Teams

Dec 17, 2018   //   by Barry Saiff   //   Blog, Concepts and Definitions, Content Strategy, Tips for Doc and Tech Comm Managers  //  No Comments

blue banner with a silhouette of a yellow-colored man. Next to him is blue text with the words: "Achieve Inner Mastery in Managing Content Development Teams"

CARVE your way to success! On October 21, Barry Saiff, CEO and founder of Saiff Solutions, led a workshop called Managing Content Development Teams: Inner Mastery for Outer Success at LavaCon 2018. He discussed the power of vulnerability, basic management principles, and the inner strength of a manager. The key message of the workshop is that management is a sacred trust. As a manager at any level, you have the power to build or destroy careers, achieve miracles, or destroy the enterprise. Remember that management matters.

You can use the CARVE acronym to help you in managing your team. Every letter in CARVE stands for an important trait of a manager that serves as a key to your success.

Caring

A manager cares about the enterprise, the results, the process, and the people.

Access

A good manager makes himself or herself available to lessen stress in the workplace and meets one-on-one with each team member on a regular basis.

Being Respectful

A good manager understands how to respect people. This includes having high expectations. A manager does not react. A manager creates. Understanding the difference between passion and emotion is important. Not taking out your emotions on your staff is crucial.

Vision

Without vision, management can be damaging. Everyone wants to be part of something that matters. Keeping the mission, vision, and values of the company alive is essential. Everyone is more productive when they understand the impact of their work on the enterprise. Be inspired and you will inspire others.

Expect Excellence

A good manager does not accept “I can’t,” unless the statement is factually true, based on a generous assessment of the person’s capabilities. Expectations matter. Choose them wisely.

And that’s how we CARVE our way to success.

Did you know that Saiff Solutions is a Sapphire Sponsor of LavaCon? Find out more about our content strategy adventure at the exciting 2018 event here.

Is Your Content Driving Away Readers? Try Motion Infographics!

Nov 13, 2018   //   by Barry Saiff   //   Blog, Content Strategy, Reference Articles  //  No Comments

You work hard to develop your text content, only to have readers click right past it. How can you transform the content from a slow read to catchy eye candy? Motion infographics might be the answer to visually and quickly relay your message to your audience.

After all, the problem isn’t necessarily with the content. Instead, the form of the content could make reader comprehension less likely. On average, humans only read 20% of the text they see, and just scan the rest. With visual information, however, people remember 80% of what they see. What’s more, they understand visual information faster – 60,000 times faster – than they understand text!

In other words, if you want to communicate effectively with your audience, text-only strategies represent an enormous wasted opportunity.

Want to learn more about motion infographics and how they can help you present your content for maximum impact? Check out our blog. Our multimedia team has also collected several great articles on the subject:

13 Reasons Why Your Brain Craves Infographics
By NeoMam Studios
This explains why infographics are digested by the brain more fully  than other types of content.

5 Reasons Why You Should Use A Motion Graphics Video
By YumYum Videos
The article describes how motion infographics can be an effective tool in turning your complex information into an enticing read.

3 Ways to Turn Your Infographic into an Engaging Animated Infographic
By Column Five Media
If you’re already familiar with basic infographics, check out this article and learn how to add animation.

The Power of Visual Communication Infographic
By Wyzowl
This article describes the relationships that infographics create between writers and readers.

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What is Microcontent?

Oct 25, 2018   //   by Barry Saiff   //   Blog, Concepts and Definitions, Content Strategy  //  No Comments

Companies often overlook content organization. Some companies publish content on their websites without proper planning and analysis of the structure. Some websites have a pile of PDFs, and Google doesn’t search within them. On far too many websites, audiences grope blindly to find the content they need.

Online readers forage for information, hopping from site to site until they find what they need. So how do you get them to stop and notice your pages? By delivering easy-to-read content that actually answers their questions.

Microcontent makes that possible.

Not only does microcontent address specific questions, but it also assesses the reader’s context and intent. Microcontent presents information in the simplest and most concrete way possible. The question remains: where do technical communicators fit in this new content delivery?

This may seem like a big leap from traditional authoring, but microcontent demands the skills of technical writers even more. The world will always need translators and documentation teams for content creation. Precision Content’s post The Rise of Microcontent perfectly explains how technical writers shape this new delivery of information.

Want more information on microcontent? Watch BrightTalk’s recorded webinar The Future is now: Neuroscience, Chatbots, Voice, and Microcontent.

 

How to Create Motion Infographics Part 2

Sep 27, 2018   //   by Barry Saiff   //   Blog, Content Strategy, How-To  //  No Comments

How to Create Motion Infographics part 2

Tweaking a static infographic to include animated elements can help you stand out. If you’re not sure where to begin, let us help!

Visual content is one of the best ways to keep your reader engaged on your blog or website. In today’s digital age, readers often suffer from text overload. A colorful image or two can sustain readers’ interest. Animating your images keeps readers’ eyes from wandering away from your page.

When it comes to creating infographics, you have lots of great tools at your disposal. Applications like Adobe After Effects or Illustrator can help you design powerful, effective images. 

Our multimedia team uses GIF formatting to create motion infographics. Among a variety of formatting options, GIF is the most effective and cost-efficient. GIFs contain micro-animations – continuously moving images that catch the attention of your audience.

If you want to know more about how our multimedia team creates motion infographics, here is a quick primer:

  1. We use Adobe Illustrator to create images based on a client’s needs.
  2. We use Autodesk Maya to create a 3D model of the image to be animated. The movement is drawn frame-by-frame and is called an image sequence.
  3. We then import the image sequence into Adobe Media Encoder CC.
  4. In Adobe Media Encoder CC, we render the moving image as an .Mp4 file to reduce the file size without compromising quality.
  5. Lastly, we use Adobe After Effects CC to add text and graphics that support the infographic.

Useful Links

If you want to deepen your knowledge on motion infographics, our multimedia team has shared some useful tips:

  • 4 Must-Have Motion Graphic Design Applications
    From Adorama Learning Center

    This article provides a list of four must-have applications for aspiring video editors, videographers, and motion graphic designers. Read it here.
  • 7 Motion Design Lessons Learned the Hard Way
    From Pond5 Blog

    This article shares seven key lessons that you need to learn to succeed in motion design. Read it here.
  • Layout Cheat Sheet: Making the Best Out of Visual Arrangement
    From Piktochart

    This article teaches the importance of using white space and layout arrangement to take your infographics to the next level. Read it here.
  • Motion Graphics Software You Should Know
    From RocketStock

    This article compiles a list of motion graphics software perfect for bringing your ideas to life. Read it here.

Missed our September 13 webinar? View the recording here, and the slide deck here. Discover the future of microcontent with host Scott Abel of The Content Wrangler, and special guests Rob Hanna of Precision Content Authoring Solutions and Barry Saiff of Saiff Solutions.

Want to know more about what’s going on in technical communication? Fill in the fields at the top of your screen to subscribe to our newsletter. Get the latest blog posts, webinars, and other educational events in your inbox.

Motion Infographics Part 1: How to Create Effective, Engaging Visual Content

Aug 14, 2018   //   by Barry Saiff   //   Blog, Concepts and Definitions, Content Strategy  //  No Comments

Design 4 (1)

How do you turn content into a visual masterpiece that can provide people with an easy, enjoyable, and effective learning experience? Could motion infographics be the answer?

Motion infographics combine the best elements of minimalism, instructional design, and information architecture to produce content that enables people to learn quickly and painlessly. Motion infographics don’t merely make learning fun and easy. They have the potential to revolutionize technical documentation by simplifying complex topics and fully engaging users.

Producing effective, engaging visual content requires technical skills and design knowledge. Don’t worry, our top multimedia artists collected their top links for best practices and how-to guides on creating motion infographics. Take a look at our list of some of the best resources that can help you.

  • Animated Infographics: How Do They Work and What Makes Them Effective?
    From The Content Wrangler
    This article provides a basic tutorial and overview on how to create simple motion infographics. Read it here.
  • The Best Animation and Motion Graphics Software to Learn
    From School of Motion
    This article compiles an extensive list of applications that you need to learn to create motion infographics. Read it here.
  • Animagraffs: Education Animated by Jacob O’Neal
    From Adobe Blogs
    This article contains the fundamentals and best practices for creating motion infographics. Read it here.
  • Pro-Tips for Creating Interactive Infographics
    From Creative Bloq
    This article shares must-know tips to guide you in creating effective visual content applicable to motion infographics. Read it here.

Do you want to know more about motion infographics and other technical communication trends? Let us know! We’d love to hear from you. If you haven’t already, subscribe to our newsletter (form above), and receive updates on our latest blog posts, webinars, and other educational events.

Visual Learning Ecosystems (VLEs) Part 2: Are VLEs Really Something New?

Mar 13, 2018   //   by Barry Saiff   //   Blog, Concepts and Definitions, Content Strategy  //  No Comments

Visual Learning Ecosystems (VLEs) combine media elements such as animations, videos, graphics, and text to create large sets of educational information, presented to consumers based on their choices and their learning experiences.

VLEs can be incorporated within products, or interface with those products, to provide real-world, practical educational experiences, addressing the short attention spans and visual and auditory preferences of modern consumers. VLEs can facilitate customers through pre-sale or post-sale content, and make possible immersive, interactive, experiential learning journeys, customized based on the consumer’s wants and needs.

But are VLEs really new? Haven’t we seen all this before? Are VLEs just hype?

Let’s compare VLEs to three other types of content collections: Elearning Modules, Multi-media Presentations, and Knowledge Bases.

Elearning modules and VLEs both make use of multiple forms of media such as animations, videos, graphics, and text to facilitate a learning process.

Elearning modules are delivered through a pre-designed syllabus or curriculum. You can go through all of the materials, or just pick the parts that you want to use. However, you are confined to the pre-designed scope of that specific course. Not all of the materials may fit your learning style.

On the other hand, using VLEs, you design your own journey through a set of educational materials that matches your learning preferences and needs. If you want to learn more about a topic, VLEs can help you branch out and find more relevant information, presented in media that suit your learning style.

Elearning modules provide an interactive and practical method to educate and learn, but don’t necessarily cater to each user’s learning preferences and needs. VLEs further explore the potential of digital educational media by turning learning experiences into personalized journeys.

What about multi-media presentations? These pre-designed collections of content have been around for many decades. While they allow for a varied conglomeration of relevant information, presented in a variety of media, they are even less user-directed than elearning modules.

How about knowledge bases? Knowledge bases are often focused on post-sales content that helps consumers use products and services effectively. They can provide information in a wide variety of media. And they sometimes allow users to choose from a variety of learning options at different stages of their journey through the material.

In fact, some of the most advanced knowledge bases in use today can be accurately described as VLEs. While both knowledge bases and VLEs can focus on either post-sales help information or other types of content, knowledge bases are strongly associated with product support. The term VLE may be more appropriate to describe the wide variety of interactive, customizable content collections that enable unique user journeys through educational, marketing, pre-sales, post-sales, and even entertainment content.

Are you ready to achieve a level of success that leads the world? Contact Saiff Solutions today.

VLEs are the cutting edge of information design, interactive learning, customer service, and marketing. Have you experienced using a VLE, or something close to it? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

This is the second entry in an educational series exploring the power of VLEs. If you haven’t already, subscribe to our newsletter (form above), and receive updates on our latest blog posts, webinars, and other educational events.

Visual Learning Ecosystems (VLEs) Part 1: The Future of Technical and Marketing Communication

Feb 12, 2018   //   by Barry Saiff   //   Blog, Concepts and Definitions, Content Strategy  //  2 Comments

We live in an age of rapid technological development. Information is becoming more and more essential and valuable. Content is everywhere, delivered rapidly, via every form of media.

Are you getting exactly the content that you need? How can you tell? Much of the content we consume is curated for us, for example, our Facebook feeds.

Let’s say you want to master a new field of knowledge. Of course, you can use the internet. But, how do you go about it? If you are unfamiliar with the field, you may not be able to distinguish credible information from inaccurate or misleading information. Also, maybe you don’t like reading long passages. Perhaps you prefer to watch short videos, or view content that has graphics and text. The presentation of information greatly affects the quality of the content, and the experience of the user.

What is the answer?

One way to address the needs of learners is something we call a VLE, a Visual Learning Ecosystem. VLEs combine media elements such as animations, videos, graphics, and text to create large sets of educational information, presented to consumers based on their choices and their learning experiences.

VLEs can be incorporated within products, or interface with those products, to provide real-world, practical educational experiences, addressing the short attention spans and visual and auditory preferences of modern consumers. VLEs can facilitate customers through pre-sale or post-sale content, and make possible immersive, interactive, experiential learning journeys, customized based on the consumer’s wants and needs.

Creating VLEs requires a mixture of skills and talents. Experience creating graphics, videos, animation, and films alone is not adequate. VLE teams also need textual content experts such as technical writers, instructional designers, marketing professionals, and various creative, content, and technical professionals. Unique among technical content development companies, Saiff Solutions actually employs all of these types of professionals.

Our reputation for excellent content quality, and our commitment to integrity and outstanding customer service, will allow us to deliver on your vision of interactive educational journeys, and your commitment to creating an exceptional customer experience throughout the sales cycle.

Are you ready to achieve a level of success that leads the world? Contact Saiff Solutions today.

VLEs are the cutting edge of information design, interactive learning, customer service, and marketing. Have you experienced using a VLE, or something close to it? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

This is the first entry in an educational series exploring the power of VLEs. If you haven’t already, subscribe to our newsletter (form above), and receive updates on our latest blog posts, webinars, and other educational events.

Tech Comm Intrapreneurship: 5 Key Approaches Infographic

Oct 6, 2017   //   by Barry Saiff   //   Blog, Concepts and Definitions, Content Strategy, Tips for Doc and Tech Comm Managers  //  No Comments

Discover how adapting an “intrapreneurial” mindset can help you sell the value of innovative ideas, new approaches, and improvements in technology.

This infographic features 5 key approaches tech comm intrapreneurs can use to bridge the gap between tech comm teams and upper management.

Tech comm intrapreneurship 5 key approaches

 

Want to know more? Check out our webinar on this topic, here.

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Saiff Solutions In The Media

- TechWhirl
- Nominated for 2015 Rice Bowl Asean Start Up

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Testimonials

“Barry [Saiff] truly is a force of nature – he is a consummate professional with deep technical expertise when it comes to technical writing which lets him just “get it” right out of the box. Barry pairs very strong writing skills with the ability to easily speak both “business analyst” and “software engineer” in the same meeting. Barry was the lead information developer for my product at Symantec, and I had the utmost confidence in his abilities and work ethic. On top of all that, Barry has a wonderful sense of humor and an infectious laugh that can transform the work environment in an instance. I strongly endorse Barry’s many talents and would welcome working with him again in the future.”

Angelos Kottas
Principal Product Manager, Symantec
December 17, 2010

Read more testimonials here.