Browsing articles in "Concepts and Definitions"

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.

How can Technical Writers Support Voice Automation?

Dec 6, 2018   //   by Barry Saiff   //   Blog, Concepts and Definitions  //  No Comments

What is voice automation? Voice automation enables digital devices to interact with users via sound. Chances are, if you own a smartphone, you’ve already conversed with Siri, or one of her sisters.

Voice automation is everywhere these days. It’s proven to be successful for GPS navigation programs and even home automation systems. Thanks to voice automation, we now have intelligent assistant technologies such as Siri, Alexa, Cortana, and Bixby.  The potential of voice automation doesn’t stop there. Medicine, engineering, and finance are just some of the industries that can integrate voice automation into their processes, products, and services.

Some might think that voice automation will eventually take over the functions of a technical writer. However, Saiff Solutions’ webinar with Precision Content on neuroscience, chatbots, voice, and microcontent suggests otherwise. In our previous microcontent blog, we discussed how we can narrow down content into its most simplified form through microcontent.

Microcontent

Microcontent is a unit of structured information that can be easily processed by both the human brain and machines. This is exactly what we need to feed voice automation with more precise information. Technical communicators are best equipped with the skills needed to produce voice automation-ready microcontent.

Now, how exactly can technical writers support voice automation? Here are three good ways:

  • Technical writers can identify user intent.

Technical writers are known to be experts in audience analysis, and audience analysis is the best method to identify user intent. User intent is one of the most crucial parts of microcontent. The intent declares the function of the information.

  • Technical writers can apply user intent to content.

Once technical writers get a full grasp of their audience’s intent, they can determine the writing structure needed for microcontent. According to Saiff Solutions’ and Precision Content’s webinar “The Future is Now: Neuroscience, Chatbots, Voice, and Microcontent,” microcontent sentences change tense and perspective depending on reader intent. This shapes the authoring of your content, thus enabling voice automation to be more eloquent and conversational.

  • Technical writers can adapt to any business that  requires the development of voice automation.

Technical writers can adapt to any technical field, and the same goes for microcontent. Won’t it be interesting to experience voice automation everywhere? The adaptability of technical writers opens endless possibilities for voice automation.

Imagine the possibilities of this growing content delivery system! With voice automation, you can:

  • Expand the capabilities of AI
  • Contribute to the development of eLearning
  • Enhance your marketing and technical content

So, if you want to learn more about how voice automation can make your content shine, see our previous webinar with Precision Content here and view the slide deck here.

Watch out for our microcontent blog series on the Saiff Solutions blog page here.

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.

 

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.

Be an Effective Tech Comm Professional with this 2017 Technical Communications Calendar

Jan 3, 2017   //   by Barry Saiff   //   Blog, Concepts and Definitions, Evaluating Technical Writers, Reference Articles  //  No Comments

Featuring the 14 Habits of Highly Effective Technical Writers &  Technical Communications Leaders

You’ve read the blog post and seen the STC-sponsored webinar. Now you can have the 14 Habits of Highly Effective Technical Writers and Technical Communications Leaders guide you through 2017 with this desk-stand calendar.

2017 Technical Communications Calendar - Desk Stand

Download the PDF and get your favorite print shop to print it on 6.5″ x 4.5″ card paper and bind it. Then display it on your desk and be reminded to Ask, Rewrite, Get Feedback, and Be a Customer Advocate to maximize your effectiveness as a tech comm professional.

If you’d rather be inspired whenever you look at your office wall, then print this wall-hanging version on 8″ x 11″ paper.

2017 Technical Communications Calendar - Wall Hanging

And if you’d like to know further how we can help your customer experience and process improvement advocacy by scaling up your technical documentation, send us a message at barrysaiff@saiffsolutions.com.

Events: Virtual Summit on Advanced Practices in Technical Communication 2016

virtual-summit-on-advanced-practices-in-technical-communication

December 6-8, 2016

The Content Wrangler is sponsoring The Virtual Summit on Advanced Practices in Technical Communication, a free, three-day event designed especially for technical communication professionals. The event features 12 free one-hour sessions from some of the industry’s best and brightest talents — experts in agile outsourcing, XML authoring, content strategy, content management, translation and localization, intelligent content, plain language, customer experience, and more. Learn more.

tech-writing-outsourcing-in-agile

As part of The Virtual Summit, Saiff Solutions, yours truly, is sharing its knowledge on Managing Technical Writing Outsourcing in an Agile Environment on December 8, 2016 at 6pm EST. Register below, it’s free!

register-here-button

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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] has extensive experience both as a manager of technical writers and as a writer. As a manager, he is fair, encourages innovation, and is open to divergent points of view. As a writer, he can grasp very complex concepts and explain those concepts to end user through administrator audiences. Additionally, he has expert knowledge of all components of the documentation process, including corporate style guides, editing, writing, working with localization, and production. Barry is very much a people person and wherever he goes, he cultivates a large network of friendly yet professional relationships. He’s worked successfully with both on-site subject matter experts as well as those across the world. During my time working with Barry, he’s run a number of successful efforts to improve the usability of documentation. In one such case, he recruited a cross-functional team to overhaul the documentation based on the recommendations of this user-facing group of subject matter experts.”

Steve Anderson
Principal Technical Writer, Symantec
December 16, 2010

Read more testimonials here.