What is the future of indexing?

We have seen many changes in the publishing industry during the past ten years. Technological advances in book production and decreased readership led to many publishers closing or being consolidated into larger concerns. This industrial disruption has affected every professional indexer, some more than others. Many indexers added services to supplement declining income, while others left the field or retired. Yet others remain busy, working as many hours as they want in the craft.

Change is still under way as technology evolves and improves. Although this can be frightening, new opportunities are emerging. At the same time, some things might not change.

So what can we expect? Based on my experiences as an indexer and technical communications consultant who works with new technologies, I am seeing a mix of traditional indexing thriving, along with some different indexing methods to accommodate modern book production. Here are my observations in more detail.


Jumping on the Embedded Indexing Bandwagon and the Future of Embedded Indexing, The Indexer

Should you learn how to create embedded indexes in Adobe InDesign, Microsoft Word, FrameMaker, and other software packages with tagging features? If you do, can you build a stable base of embedded indexing clients and have a steady flow of work? Lucie Haskins and Cheryl Landes answer these questions and many more in these two articles published in The Indexer in June 2016.

Breaking into technical marketing, ISTC Journal

Are you a technical writer who enjoys telling stories and evangelizing about products
and services? Then technical marketing communications is an excellent niche for you.

With the growth of content strategy and social media, the demand for technical marketing communicators is increasing rapidly. Salaries for regular, full-time employees and hourly rates for contractors are often substantially higher than in most other areas of technical communication because of the demand.

If you are interested in this field, what is it? What types of work will you do? And, most importantly, how do you break in? Continue reading →

Do content strategy and business priorities mesh?

Content is business. Great content sells. Bad content doesn’t.

No matter how hard we try, “content and usability strategy can’t predict outcomes,” said Jared Spool, the CEO & Founding Principal of User Interface Engineering, at his annual presentation sponsored by the IEEE Computer Society, GBC/ACM, and BostonCHI at Constant Contact in Waltham, MA, on January 16.

“The key is understanding business models. Great business models are designed.”

Business models have strategies, and like content strategy, there are priorities. Spool said there are five priorities for any business strategy:

  1. Increase revenue.
  2. Decrease costs.
  3. Increase new business.
  4. Increase existing business.
  5. Increase shareholder value.

And, he continued, these priorities are the same for content and usability strategies. “Take the money and put it into the (user) experience and see where it gets you,” he said.

Read the full article HERE.

Does structured content improve findability?

For a long time, content strategists and single-sourcing gurus have touted the benefits of structured content in the Extensible Markup Language (XML). This structured content is separate from formatting, allowing it to adapt to any device, anywhere, at any time. Content can be reused in various ways from one source, preventing multiple versions of the same information. Content is predictable, meaning it follows specific conventions that makes authoring easier and improves comprehension.

But did you know that structured content actually improves findability? That’s because another way to think of structured content is that it’s consistent, hence the predictability. Consistency is organized. Organized content helps readers locate and consume the content easier and faster. The result: Improved findability.

To use consistently structured XML content effectively, it must be exposed to the web. If it’s stored in large PDFs in your help system, then the search engines can’t see it. That means that the content won’t be retrieved in a search query.

You can have the most awesome content in the world, but if no one can find it, it’s worthless. But when your content is exposed to the search engines, the search engines love you, because they can find your content. Your audience also loves you, because the search engines can guide them to the right content quickly and easily. And if your audience consists of customers ready to buy your products or services, then that structured content they’re seeking and retrieving actually lands sales.

So how can you structure your content so that its findability improves?

  • Create a consistent organizational format for your content. The more predictable it is, the easier it is to find.
  • Create meaningful content titles, headings, and subheadings. Make sure these describe what your chunks of content are about so that the content will rank higher in the search results.
  • Add index entries as subject keywords in the metadata to help improve the search results ranking. This is an effective way to incorporate an index into your content when no interface is available to support a traditional index.
  • Include synonyms, when appropriate, in the content to enhance the search results. Use alternate terms that you target audience uses. Find out what these terms are by “listening” to their conversations online and detecting patterns in their references to your products or services.

See full article HERE.