Some Upcoming Events

Here are three events where I will be speaking in the next few months.

Every Page is Page One: STC Southwestern Ontario, February 13, 7:00

I will be presenting on Every Page is Page One to the Southwestern Ontario Chapter of the STC on February 13 in Room DC1304, William Davis Centre, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON. The session will also be broadcast as a Webinar, so you can attend from anywhere.  Details here. Here’s the session description:

Readers dive into the middle of your content using search, links, or indexes, but often find themselves lost in the middle of a long consecutive narrative. Even when the content is produced using common topic-based writing techniques, it is often organized like a book, and individual topics do not work well as a starting point for the reader. On the Web, in particular, readers can come from anywhere and land anywhere. Is your content ready to receive them?

People seeking information are impatient and have many options to choose from. Even when they are reading a book, the Web is always close at hand. If your content does not work for them immediately, they will move on. Expecting them to navigate complex hierarchies to find the information they need just won’t cut it anymore. Whatever page they land on has to work for them immediately. It has to be page one.

Whether you deliver on the Web, in a help system, or on paper, we now live in a world in which every page is page one. You need to provide your readers with Every Page is Page One topics, or they quickly become someone else’s readers. In this session you will learn how to write Every Page is Page One topics that work for the reader no matter how they land on them.

For technical communicators, this Every Page is Page One environment presents a unique challenge: How do you cover a large and complex product using only topics, and how do you enable your readers to find and navigate topic-based content effectively?

Register for the event on the STC Southwestern Ontario website.

Content is Architecture: Intelligent Content Conference, San Jose, Feb 26

I will be giving a pre-conference workshop at the Intelligent Content Conference in San Jose, February 26, entitled Content is Architecture: Information Architecture in a World Where Every Page is Page One. For registration details, see the conference website. Here is the workshop description.

It is tempting to design a website as if people came to it whole, like a book. Think of it like this, and it seems like the information architecture is a framework into which you fit pieces of content, like hanging ornaments on a Christmas tree. But few users actually approach websites like this. Most either come to the home page and go straight to the search box, or they search for a subject on Google or ask about it on Facebook or Twitter and then follow a search result or a link right to an individual page on your site. It is quite possible they will not even know which site they are on. When users navigate like this, they can land on any page, and every page could be their page one.

In a world where every page is page one, users do not navigate from your home page downwards, but from whatever page they are on upwards, or, more likely, sideways. They do not care about, or pause to understand, the organization or scope of your site, but move opportunistically along whatever line of inquiry interests them in the moment, without regard to the boundaries between your site and your competitors’ sites.

In this environment, you need to think of every page as a navigational hub that satisfies the reader’s desire to follow their current interest while keeping them from wandering away from your site. This means the information architecture is not a framework separate from your content; the architecture is in the content itself. Content is architecture.

In this workshop, we will explore the content as architecture concept and explore practical strategies for creating content that works as page one for the reader and also works as a hub to keep the reader in your content. We will look at major sites like Wikipedia and Amazon that essentially have no top-down structure but which facilitate easy navigation along the lines of the reader’s interests.

Participants will be introduced to the seven principles of Every Page is Page One information design and have an opportunity to apply those principles to their own content in a workshop format.

Register for the workshop on the conference website.

Information Architecture Bottom Up: STC Summit, Phoenix Arizona, 17th21st May 2014

I am speaking on Information Architecture Bottom Up at the STC Summit in Phoenix, Arizona 17th21st May 2014. For more information, see the Summit program on Lanyard.

Much of the current approach to information architecture is based on a false premise. It assumes that the reader comes to a work – a website, manual, or help system – as a whole, starts at the top and works their way down through the hierarchy of the work to the particular piece of information they need. In fact, most people arrive not at the top of the work, but at the bottom, by fallowing a search result, following a link, or consulting an index. These methods of navigation do not lead to the top of the work. They lead to an individual page somewhere in the middle of the work. This is what it means to say that every page is page one, because the way people navigate content today means that any individual page in your work can be the first page they see.

To register for the Summit, see the Summit website.

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