June 15, 2022
Remember when you needed paper maps to go on a road trip? You followed the route but were never sure what was ahead. Now you plug your destination into Google Maps and go. You get information in real-time and navigate around traffic and problems automatically. Is your organization using the equivalent of paper maps for its technical documentation?
In today’s digital age, tech companies understand that documentation is necessary for their business and expend significant time and money on its production and maintenance. While most companies produce good and exhaustive documentation, when it comes to delivery, they still offer pre-generated, one-size-fits-all static documentation.
Great content should actually be findable, readable, shareable, and interactive, something (only) Dynamic Content Delivery can provide.
In this article, we’ll explore what Dynamic Content Delivery is and how it engages your users and takes your content to the next level.
Deep Dive Into Dynamic Content Delivery
When your users search for information, they seek insight. They gain insight when the information they get is contextual and complete. Contextual because it adapts to them and to the device they’re using but also because it focuses on precisely what they want and understands what they need based on the task they are trying to achieve. Complete because despite the different formats and silos, content from any relevant source in an organization is delivered uniformly and consistently. Therefore, they gain insight when they find precisely what they want, avoid the irrelevant, yet are offered intelligent suggestions of alternate pathways of learning.
With static publishing, your users get one manual for one product, regardless of its customizations or the specifics of each installation, regardless of whether they read it on a phone, on a laptop or on a printed manual.
On the other hand, dynamic delivery — or dynamic publishing — serves personalized, customized, on-the-fly documentation, that lets readers gain insight through contextual and complete information. It enables the evolution from a static scenario — the provider tossing their documentation over a wall to the user — to having a detailed one-on-one conversation with readers. Dynamic publishing gives results that are more findable, more readable, more shareable, and more interactive.
What permits this is the marriage of custom-engineered technology to documentation, that is manipulated at a fine-grained level with consistent metadata. Together, these empower your system of apps and workflows to deliver a great user experience and create product information tailored for the moment of need and adapted to the channel.
Content Delivery Platforms (CDP) such as Fluid Topics, have allowed companies to transform their technical documentation into on-demand knowledge and support users at every touchpoint of the product experience.
Fluid Topics’ cloud-based software-as-a-service platform creates a repository of smart information and acts as a secure single point of delivery. More specifically, it:
- collects content from existing sources, structured records or unstructured documents;
- processes and transforms this content beyond its initial format to turn it into fine-grained, enriched and actionable information; and
- makes this augmented information accessible to applications and processes in a contextual and tailored way.
Transforming the User Experience
Your customers expect speed, engagement, and effortless collaboration? Here are the benefits you can expect from a Content Delivery Platform:
The experience of using your documentation has to be at the level your customers are used to—relevant as Google, engaging as Facebook, collaborative as Slack, and as fast as them all. Or they will quit you faster than a millennial leaving a chain restaurant.
Having your documentation structured and tagged (e.g., product, version number) at a fine-grained level gives your search more handles to find exactly what you want. When you can only search for entire books, the biggest books will always be the top search results. And you always get the same answer: Read the …you know… manual. That’s the very definition of poor customer support — no help at all.
Dynamic delivery, on the contrary, relies heavily on richly tagged, fine-grained content, whether it is created that way with a modern component-based approach, or started life as large manuals that now have to be automatically analyzed and chunked into small pieces by the Content Delivery Platform using machine learning based algorithms.
When your content is chunked and finely tagged, that big book’s boundaries dissolve and your search engine can dig inside and deliver dynamically exactly what your user needs, by working and indexing at the component level. Why should a human pore over an index when a great search engine is so much faster at it? So, what exactly makes a great search engine great?
- It is highly relevant by adapting the indexing strategy to the structure of each document
- It is personal because it learns from your behavior and adapts to your search patterns
- It has linguistic abilities—it knows grammar. It has semantic skills—it knows synonyms. It understands approximation—it is typo-tolerant
- It allows users to narrow down their search using filters, and even better, it applies some filters silently, taking context into account
- It is fast and does all this in milliseconds—after all, if your search is slow, users will be turned off and will end up grumbling on social networks or, frustrated, in your phone queue
- It is self-explanatory by generating abstracts of results that highlight the keywords of the search, or their synonyms.
Readability is the ease of absorbing information. Find too much that isn’t directly pertinent to the task, and readability plummets. Since we all use different devices with different kinds of output, readability also means customizing the documentation to the readers’ specific device.
Large screen? Show me all the steps at once, with detailed diagrams, so I can get an idea of the scope of the entire task.
Small screen? Show me one step at a time.
No screen? Talk to me. With cutting-edge devices such as AR glasses, VR goggles, or chatbots, dynamic delivery presents exciting possibilities.
The modern enterprise copier/printer is a good example of specifically adapted documentation. When you need to change the toner or fix a paper jam, the printer’s built-in display shows you a legible step-by-step diagram. This is a high level of readability—just what you need, no more, and well-adapted to the little screen. Therefore, the information needs to be fluid and flexible, able to reshape itself to fit into any device. This is the exact opposite of static and pre-rendered documents.
And what if the entity searching is another piece of software, such as a software agent? What if it is a printer or an MRI machine or a chatbot? The Internet of Things gives us a brand-new universe of non-human entities searching for information. They need results tailored to their ability to read and process. In fact, readability is a greater concern for them than for a human searcher, because they are not as smart, and need results tailored precisely to their design.
Shareability and Interactivity
When we think “share,” we think Facebook or Instagram. And why shouldn’t sharing product information be as easy as sharing a picture of your Sunday brunch? With dynamic delivery, virtual documents are generated on the fly, but this shouldn’t prevent you from bookmarking and commenting on individual topics, as you used to do on real paper-based books.
When your documentation is structured in small chunks, you are ready to deliver custom product information to your customer portal, your helpdesk system and mobile apps.
An advanced dynamic delivery solution will keep the structure of the documentation alive and offer the user the possibility to interact with the content at a fine-grained yet consistent level:
- Access to content is direct, at the component level, whether it is a task, a section or a chapter
- Bookmarks can be set so as to jump, in one click, deep within the appropriate content
- Alerts on content change are more targeted and users are not drowned by notifications each time a paragraph is changed in a manual
- Users can build their own manuals by reusing existing content just as tech writers do, avoiding content duplication and the desynchronization that comes with copy-paste
As dynamic delivery makes your current system more effective, it lays the groundwork for cutting-edge possibilities like augmented reality, chatbots, and smart software agents.
If you could interview your customers every time they had a problem, you could learn how your product fares in the real world. Short of that, if you could look over their shoulder at what they’re reading, that would tell you a lot. But that’s impossible… right?
With dynamic documentation delivery, you could potentially follow along with your customer. Since your documentation is parsed at a fine grain, you can discover precisely what topics their search has produced. Since your search engine is optimized and tuned to your body of product information, you can receive detailed intelligence on what is on your user’s screen, what has been previewed, what has been opened. You could know what they are reading and for how long.
If you knew which specific parts of the documentation were being searched for and displayed, and for how long, it would be almost like interviewing your customer. You could detect patterns in your users’ searches and determine if your product has a problem or needs an update.
The future is now
The leap from static to dynamic delivery is as revolutionary as going from Morse code to the telephone—a quantum leap in bandwidth. Don’t miss this opportunity and ruin the effort because of poor delivery – it’s time to embrace modern content services.
Fluid Topics’ capabilities transform your documentation into engaging user experiences, but also translate into significant efficiency and financial gains. Learn more about how Dynamic Content Delivery can make a huge difference to your bottom line by reading our white paper “Content ROI – Achieving and Measuring the Value of Tech Doc”.