Browsing articles in "Reference Articles"

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.

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.

 

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

Infographics: 7 Elements of Respect

Apr 18, 2016   //   by Barry Saiff   //   Blog, Concepts and Definitions, How-To, Managing Technical Writers, Outsourcing, Reference Articles  //  No Comments

We’ve condensed the 21 Dimensions of Respect into a more digestible 7 elements.

Check out these 4 infographics illustrating the 7 elements!

Click on each image to expand for downloading.

BALANCE Infographic 1 of 4

BALANCE Infographic 2 of 4

BALANCE Infographic 3 of 4
BALANCE Infographic 4 of 4

 

 

A Motivating SLAP!

Apr 1, 2016   //   by Barry Saiff   //   Blog, Concepts and Definitions, How-To, Managing Technical Writers, Outsourcing, Reference Articles  //  No Comments

Here is an acronym that summarizes the key success factors for motivating professionals:

SLAP!


Success

SUCCESS: People need successes to feel good about themselves and their work. Make sure there are small things that even the worst performer has a chance to succeed at. And then “catch them doing something good” and praise them. Your primary responsibility is to support your staff to succeed.

Learn

LEARNING: If a person is not interested in and motivated by learning, and by opportunities to learn, then they were probably not a good hire. Give your staff chances to grow. If you are creative, you will see learning opportunities everywhere, in everything.

Accurate Feedback

ACCURATE FEEDBACK: You owe this to each person on your staff. Separate emotion from fact. Separate actions and behaviors from person/identity. When someone makes a mistake, tell them. When they do something well, tell them. Do not let anything go. Be fair, precise, frequent, and helpful in providing feedback.

 Praise

PRAISE: Everyone needs praise. A study found that people need 5 times as much positive feedback as criticism to achieve their best performance. Think about that. If you are not in the habit of praising people frequently, change. (Remember, only praise accurately!)

What do you think? Have you discovered other key success factors for motivation? I’d love to know your thoughts! Please post your comments.

Posters – 7 Habits of Highly Effective Technical Writers

Feb 18, 2016   //   by Barry Saiff   //   Blog, Concepts and Definitions, Evaluating Technical Writers, How-To, Outsourcing, Reference Articles  //  2 Comments

Click on the thumbnails below to open them in a new window where you can save them.

1 Page Poster

Poster - 7 Habits 1pager

2 Page Poster

Poster - 7 Habits 2pager 1of2

Page 1 of 2

Poster - 7 Habits 2pager 2of2

Page 2 of 2

See our 7 habits of highly effective technical writers aritcle here.

The 21 Dimensions of Respect

Feb 18, 2016   //   by Barry Saiff   //   Blog, Concepts and Definitions, How-To, Reference Articles  //  1 Comment

Sometimes taken for granted, RESPECT is one of a manager’s key success factors for leading productive, diverse, multi-cultural teams. The ability to deeply, broadly, and authentically respect others may not come naturally to everyone. Even if you are a “natural,” you may find these tips helpful.

RespectForForeigners

We can respect people by:

  1. Understanding them
  2. Seeking to understand before accusing
  3. Considering their feelings
  4. Listening to them
  5. Believing in them
  6. Expecting more of them than they expect of themselves
  7. Not buying into their perceived limitations
  8. Believing that they can achieve great things
  9. Being careful not to assume things about them
  10. Judging them as individuals, fairly, not as members of a group (gender, culture, etc.)
  11. Being creative about how to reduce the impact of your own biases on your decisions
  12. Hearing their unspoken concerns
  13. Knowing the signs of upset, disappointment, and anger for each person
  14. Appreciating and acknowledging them regularly, always authentically, and calibrated to give them an accurate idea about how they are doing
  15. Praise everyone: “catch them doing something well”
  16. Being responsible for your impact on them
  17. Modeling the behaviors you want to see
  18. Being as willing as you ask them to be
  19. Being careful not to blame them for your mistakes
  20. Being more responsible than they need to be
  21. When things go wrong, looking first at your own actions and way of being

Adopting a broad, global view of respect will improve morale, increase productivity, and strengthen your international business relations.

Agree, disagree? Comment below.

Join us for a special free webinar on the CARVE/SLAP/THRIVE approach to managing technical writers on April 14!  Register at the link below:

How to Motivate and Empower Globally Competitive Teams of Content Professionals

About the Author

Barry Saiff has led several small to large multicultural teams consisting of Technical Writers, Graphic Designers, Marketers, and other professionals at 7 different companies in the U.S. and Philippines. The integration of cultures has created a global knowledge base for world-class quality.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Technical Writers

Jan 24, 2016   //   by Barry Saiff   //   Blog, Concepts and Definitions, How-To, Reference Articles  //  19 Comments

A Technical Writer’s maximum potential can be uncovered through developing these 7 habits, regardless of which country they are operating in:

1. Do not take it personally (learn)

Don't take it personally

Great technical writers thrive on criticism. They understand  that it enables them to improve, and to improve the accuracy and readability of their content. So, don’t take criticism personally. Use it to your advantage.

2. Learn before asking (respect, impress)

Learn before asking

Learn as much as you can from available resources before asking questions. In this way, you can respect others’ time and impress your colleagues with your ability to ask intelligent questions.

3. Ask (often)

Ask

Technical writing requires good people skills. Don’t attempt it alone. Ask questions. Ask for help.

4. REWRITE (always)

REWRITE

Pick 3 of your favorite writers. If you were able to see their first drafts, you’d probably think, “I can do much better.” The best writers in the world are the best re-writers. Always rewrite, rewrite, and rewrite some more.

5. Acquire Feedback (test, reviews)

Acquire Feedback

Technical writing is almost never 100% on the first draft. Without adequate testing and review, accuracy is often unattainable. Make sure you get the feedback you need to excel.

6. Understand (before publishing)

Understand

When you start, you may not fully understand your subject matter. That’s fine. By the time you publish, make sure you do understand. If you don’t understand what you write, your readers are not likely to understand it, either.

7. Contribute

Contribute

Notice things. Does the prototype work as expected? Are the user interface labels capitalized consistently? Ask questions. Make suggestions. Be a part of the product team.

Agree or disagree? We’d love to hear your comments below.

2016 New Year’s Gifts

Happy New Year from Saiff Solutions!

Please accept these presents which we think you’ll find useful for planning a successful year:

2016 calendar with information typing tips

2016 Calendar

Front | Back

2016 planning questions for your team, department, organization

 

GoalAt Saiff Solutions, Inc., we use these questions every year to support our growth and development.
Feel free to use them to support your own growth and development, as individuals and as an
organization.

  1. What did you accomplish in 2015 that you want to be acknowledged for?

 

1a. How well did you perform on your intentions and promises for 2015?

 

  1. What did you learn in 2015? (LESSONS LEARNED)

 

  1. What did you fail to accomplish in 2015?

 

  1. What is still incomplete for you? Consider your answers above, as well as people, events, or situations that you may be incomplete with.

 

  1. Are you willing to let it go? If not what do you need to do in order to get complete? By when will you do that?

 

  1. What is your vision for 12/31/16? Name at least 3 things.

 

  1. What do you intend to learn in 2016?

 

  1. What are you grateful for?

 

  1. What is your greatest challenge?

 

  1. What support do you need?

 

Optional bonus questions:

A. Fill in the blanks: I am willing to give up _______________ in order to have _________

B. What are you willing to promise for 2016?

C. What requests do you need to make to get started on fulfilling your promises and your vision?

Creating a Customer-Centric Information Architecture

Aug 25, 2015   //   by Barry Saiff   //   Blog, Concepts and Definitions, Content Strategy, How-To, Outsourcing, Reference Articles  //  No Comments

How much difficulty do your customers have accessing your documentation and finding the exact information they need? You can improve findability, and increase customer satisfaction, with a well-designed information architecture. Information architecture is defined as:

“The art and science of structuring information (knowledge) to support findability and usability.”
— Cluadia Wunder, The Language of Content Strategy

Why is information architecture important? Because most people would rather find the information they need themselves than contact Customer Support. By improving findability, you are creating a win-win situation: Happier customers and reduced customer support costs!

In the age of instant information access, people have less patience, and may not be willing to work to find what they need.

Creating a complete customer-centric information architecture requires a thorough analysis of your content, and results in a comprehensive model that guides the organization and delivery of your content. You can get started on improving findability by implementing a few key approaches:

  • Clear topic titles that follow consistent rules help people find what they need. Even if you are still using a book paradigm, how you name your chapters and sections can make a big difference. And those sections can all be put into a hyperlinked information database.
  • A rich, varied structure of links between topics supports people who need specific information and people who want to learn more broadly.
  • The ability to find the information in your topics via searching, ideally by using a popular search engine, is crucial. If your information is only available in PDFs, this won’t work well.
  • Indexing that isn’t limited to your feature-naming scheme. A good index includes words that people unfamiliar with your product might use to describe product functions. For example, if you consistently say “power off” in your content, your index should list power off, turn off, shut down, and anything else you can imagine. To provide the best possible assistance to your users, you need to follow different rules in your index than in the rest of your content.

Do you have a customer-centric information architecture? What approaches are you using to improve findability and usability? We’re interested in your thoughts and experiences.

Are you considering outsourcing content development? Do you need some help planning your information architecture or your content strategy?
Saiff Solutions, Inc. can help you develop a strategy to succeed. Contact us if you’d like to talk:
barrysaiff AT saiffsolutions DOT com

Pages:12»

Saiff Solutions In The Media

- TechWhirl
- Nominated for 2015 Rice Bowl Asean Start Up

Click image to enlarge

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.