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MindTouch Webinar — Organizing Help Content: The Problem of Findability

Jun 9, 2011 • general

MindTouch WebinarI gave a MindTouch webinar on Friday, June 10, called Organizing Help Content: The Problem of Findability. The webinar was a joint-discussion with Scott Abel, the Content Wrangler.  Here's the webinar description:

Help systems often have hundreds of topics. Arranging this information into a logical order so that users can find the exact topic they're looking for poses major challenges for technical writers. We often default to the print paradigm and produce a table of contents, arranging the content in hierarchical folders by topic. The problem, however, is that topics frequently overlap. The logic for organizing the information isn't always clear. As a result, users often give up on browsing and resort to search as a means of finding information. But unless they know the right terms to search for, search results can be fruitless.

One solution is to break out of the print paradigm and provide multiple methods of organization for the user. By adding metadata to each topic, the content can pushed and pulled it in different ways. Arrangements of content by popularity, role, problem, location, story, format, or other facets can provide readers with alternative ways to find what they're looking for. These arrangements are becoming more popular on the web for non-help content. It's only a matter of time before help systems follow similar patterns.

Join Scott Abel, The Content Wrangler, for a conversation with technical communication expert Tom Johnson. The two industry veterans will discuss problems that impede content findability and suggest strategies for helping attendees improve their technical support sites by making their content easily discoverable.

You can view the recorded webinar below and the follow-up Q&A here.

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You can see other webinars from MindTouch here.


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About Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

I'm a technical writer based in the California San Francisco Bay area. Topics I write about on this blog include technical writing, authoring and publishing tools, API documentation, tech comm trends, visual communication, technical writing career advice, information architecture and findability, developer documentation, and more. If you're a professional or aspiring technical writer, be sure to subscribe to email updates using the form above. You can learn more about me here.