A new type of system has grown up over the past few years: the content delivery portal. This software does "almost nothing": It makes already existing information available on web platforms or apps for mobile end devices, allowing users to find and display it.
This may not sound spectacular, but it resolves a problem that has been present in technical documentation from the very beginning. Because actually there is (almost) nobody who wants to read documentation. So we as technical editors write down unbelievable amounts of useful information every day even though we are not even certain that users are able to find or use it.
After all, people only look for the information they already know exists. In addition, members Generation Y (also referred to as millennials) grew up with the internet and with digital sources of information, so they are less and less likely to consume printed information. That means that this age group ignores traditional printed manuals even more than we older people do. Sometimes I catch myself looking for product information not in the manufacturer’s manual, but on Google or YouTube.
Delivering content to the user
So documentation work has an image problem and, in the long term, an acceptance problem, unless we examine how to deliver our content to users in a modern way. And this is exactly where content delivery comes in. There are two important factors.
Number one: The information is broken down into small, easy-to-digest chunks that should ideally be designed to answer exactly one user question or solve exactly one problem. We call these chunks topics.
Number two: The topics are equipped with meta data, allowing humans and computers to discover the topic under discussion from the outside.
We have thus created the ultimate weapon to prevent long searches, frustration, obsolete or unsuitable information. Because we are now able to supply the user with exactly what they need – in the simplest case in form of an information portal, and in the best case in the form of information that is displayed in the product itself and offered proactively.
If we achieve that aim, users will never need to face a seemingly unsolvable situation ever again. They are happy because they can get the full added value out of the product they have bought or have been supplied with as a technological tool. At the same time service costs for the manufacturer are lower because users rarely need to ask questions and only real defects need to be repaired.
And now the good news: All that is not as far away as you might think, because the necessary systems already exist. What is missing is the preparation and linking of contents, but that is doable.
We have created the smart space so you can try this beautiful new world of information for yourself. The smart space is a content delivery portal with plenty of sample content from smarty, our virtual mechanical engineering company, where you can experience the concepts of smart information live. Come and take a look around at www.kothes.com/smarty.