This is a big part of my job right now, and this is an excellent way to clarify the difference between what a thesaurus is and taxonomy is. Taxonomy really is about the organization of the content so that the hierarchy makes sense.
Another analogy that I’ve used–which I got long ago from Val Swisher of Content Rules is how one can organize a closet. You can put the pants together, the shirts together, and the jackets together, but you could put all the red clothing together, all the blue clothing together, etc. Neither way is wrong, as long as it makes sense and others can follow the flow.
Except with me these days, it’s more about pharmaceutical departments and procedures. Still, even with those topics, we need to scale it back all the way to what are the objectives of the website we’re building, and how do we structure the website so that users can find what they need quickly and easily. Start with the foundational basics, and build from there.
I highly recommended this article if taxonomy isn’t your strength. It shows that it’s not as hard as it seems.
Val Swisher of Content Rules, Inc. was kind enough to give me the opportunity to write another blog post for her! This time, it’s about creating global e-learning. I talked to experts Joe Ganci and Clark Quinn about their experiences creating e-learning for various companies, and got their insights.
Anyone who has read this blog for a while knows how much I love Val Swisher of Content Rules. Why? Well, first of all, she’s a lovely person and great friend all around. But that’s beside the point. As a technical communicator, she is one of the foremost experts on content strategy, specializing in global content strategy. I’ve seen Val give presentations at various conferences, and the thing I like about her presentations is that while her topics might be high-level topics, someone like me who is still learning can understand what she is talking about. I never walk away from a Val Swisher presentation without feeling like I absorbed something that I can use in my own work–or at least have a better understanding of how it fits into the content strategy field. I have often credited Val for providing me with the ideas that have helped me get my current job and make an impact there.
So on that note, I was pleased to see that she had written a book on her specialty called, Global Content Strategy: A Primer, which is available through The Content Wrangler’s Content Strategy Series published by XML Press. This book is easily read in an afternoon, and is loaded with a lot of information.
If you’ve never had the pleasure of hearing Val’s presentations, then this book is a great way to have many of the concepts she talks about in her presentations found in one place. She provides not only the basics of what global content strategy is, but breaks down bigger ideas into simple terms, and includes color images to provide examples, which is a good move. Val explains that globalization is not just about translating content, but also being sensitive and knowledgeable about localization as well. For example, what works in Portugese in Portugal doesn’t necessarily work for Portugese in Brazil. Translations can’t always be made word for word because of idioms and expressions that aren’t universal. Val provides many examples of this applies not only textually, but in imagery as well.
The book also talks about how the translation process can get complex and bungled without establishing a translation memory database and consistency of terminology. Val provides some pointers to help global strategists wade through these issues to keep it all straight, including what not to do as well as what best practices are.
My only criticism of the book, ironically enough, is that it doesn’t seem to be written for a global audience, but rather for an American–or perhaps North American–audience. There’s nothing wrong with that, but what if I was in another country and looking to create a global strategy? Perhaps it’s because as the Internet has grown, it has seemingly been American English-centric, and by writing for an American audience, Val has written for the group that needs to become more aware of the global audience it needs to reach!
I’ve been a team member on a global web project for the last six months or so, and I remember much of what I learned from Val had taught me to the members of my immediate team that would show that even though we were working on a North American section of a website, we had to find that balance between the global and local content. Sometimes my words were heard, and sometimes it fell on deaf ears. Upon reading this book and revisiting the concepts that I’ve heard her present in the past, I do wish this book had been given to someone at the top of the global team to understand that translation alone is not enough, and that localization makes a big difference. They could’ve used this book as a great reference to better streamline the process and the web project. Many global companies could benefit from reading this book to help put their content in perspective.
If you are looking to acclimate to the concept of global content strategy and what that entails, then this is a great resource for you to read. There are a lot of details squeezed into this slim volume that will be easy to understand, and yet you’ll feel a little overwhelmed at first at how many details one needs to consider when creating a global strategy. Fortunately, this reference book breaks it down so that it isn’t as overwhelming as it could be, and helps content strategists think in a more single-sourced, consistent way to provide the best ROI for a project.
Content Rules Inc. was kind enough to extend their invitation to have me blog for them again. This time, it’s on a subject that’s near and dear to their hearts as well as mine.
This article talks about my own personal experiences in trying to use standardized language. Whether you use standardized language in your personal or professional life, it’s something that one needs to keep in mind as a writer, especially when writing for a global audience, and even more so if you are writing for a digital format that is easily accessed through the Internet. It’s not easy to do, but it’s something that should be tucked in the back of every writer’s brain.
I will admit that there are a lot of content strategists who have been doing content strategy for a much longer time than I have. Val is one of those people, and she’s someone I consider to be one of my many wonderful tech comm mentors. So you can believe me when I say that it’s been a great honor to be asked by Val Swisher of Content Rules to do a guest post on the Content Rules Blog that will also be in the Content Rules Newsletter soon. I’ve learned from her and many others over the last few years, and I have some experience under my belt as well now, which has culminated in this article. I hope you enjoy it!