If you are a communicator of technical, marketing, business, and other information, at least one of your projects today likely involves organizing content. You might be wondering, “What should I consider when deciding on an effective organizational pattern to use? What’s a good way to structure topics into a logical, orderly flow? How can I combine multiple topics into fewer topics? What are some of my options for organizing content?”
In the previous webinar I presented to the Society for Technical Communication, Patterns for Organizing Content—Many More than A to Z, participants had activities to work through independently. Let’s look at one activity together as preparation for the second webinar on the subject of organizing content, Upside Down, Inside Out, and Other Acrobatics for Organizing Your Content.
Organize Our Content Deliverables for your employer.
Your department is developing a promotional piece, Our Content Deliverables, for your employer or your client. How would you organize the following content deliverables?
case studies, catalogs, courseware, diagnostics and troubleshooting, instructions, marketing collateral, online help, operations and maintenance, parts lists, proposals, reports, scripts, service manuals, software instructions, specifications and requirements, speeches, standard operating procedures, strategic plans, style guides, theory of operations, training material, user guides, and website content
You might agree that this alphabetical listing is one option for organizing a list, but it is not particularly effective. There is no logical flow to assist the reader. Consider how your employer is accustomed to thinking about content. Perhaps your employer organizes work according to lifecycles, in which a product progresses through various phases. To be in step with your employer, try organizing your promotional piece according to where each content deliverable belongs in the product lifecycle. For example:
- Developing and testing the product might include reports, specifications and requirements, standard operating procedures, strategic plans, and style guides.
- Marketing and selling the product might include case studies, catalogs, marketing collateral, parts lists, proposals, speeches, and website content.
- Servicing the product might include diagnostics and troubleshooting, operations and maintenance, service manuals, and a theory of operations.
- Training the end user of the product might include courseware, instructions, online help, scripts, software instructions, training material, and user guides.