“For users, Every Page is Page One,” says Mark Baker. Users can land anywhere in your documentation and start consuming away. That’s why structured authoring is more than one method among many – it’s an imperative to create meaningful content and to stay relevant as a technical communicator.
Few technical communicators have recently chipped away at unquestioned conventional wisdom as profoundly as Mark Baker in his blog Every Page is Page One (EPPO). Here’s his thesis in a nutshell – EPPO redux, if you will.
The following is my boiled-down edit of the session description of Mark’s workshop at the Intelligent Content Conference yesterday. I can only claim credit for the mistakes and misunderstandings I introduced, but everything below is essentially Mark’s wisdom. I share it because I find it sensible and highly relevant – if you do, too, I encourage you to follow Mark on twitter and on his blog.
Writing Every Page is Page One Topics
Mark Baker, President, Analecta Communications Inc.
For users, Every Page is Page One. So write good Every Page is Page One topics, even when you have a large amount of related subject matter to cover. Construct information so readers can meet their information needs, no matter where they land. When covering a broad array of subject matter, don’t design the information to be consumed sequentially or hierarchically like a book.
Successful Every Page is Page One topics
- Define a limited purpose: Do one thing per topic, do it well and completely.
- Stay on one level: Be broad or be specific in a topic, but pick one and stick to it.
- Establish context: Orient readers so they know where they are.
- Conform to type: Orient readers so they know what type of topic they see, help the writer be consistent and complete.
- Assume the reader is qualified: To help readers get qualified offer links in a topic, not details.
- Link richly: Encourage the reader to explore, anchor the topic in its context.
- Provide the big picture: Create explicit high-level picture, don’t bury the big picture in the htopic sequence or hierarchy.