Information Design and Development
Designing and developing information involves the processes of information management—a cycle of acquisition, development, distribution, and review.
Common topics in information management include design, development, delivery, quality assurance, translation, globalization, and localization. The cycle of information management can be described in the following activities:
- Creating technical content
- Agile Development
- Producing technical content
- Single-Source Publishing
- Preparing world-ready content
- Assessing technical content
Creating Technical Content
Creating technical content involves both Information Design and Information Development. The following processes (and each of these involves more specific processes of their own) broadly describe the steps for creating technical content:
- Analyzing the need for technical content, which involves defining the audience, purpose, and context for the content so that the appropriate information can be presented in a language that’s accessible to users and with an approach that’s meaningful to them.
- Designing technical content, which involves choosing the general format of the content (such as a help system or a series of questions-and-answers), the medium (or media) of communication through which it will be published, structuring the content (a process called information architecture)and preparing a detailed plan for presenting the content (a process called information design).
- Developing technical content, which involves writing drafts of the content, seeking feedback on it from subject matter experts like engineers, programmers, scientists, marketing specialists, and editors, and revising the materials to reflect the comments received.
Producing Technical Content
Producing technical content involves Information Delivery. This is the process by which material is:
- Prepared for publication (whether it’s physically printed or delivered digitally and saved for backup). For print materials, this could mean preparing materials that can be printed or used on a printing press. For online, video, and audio materials, this once meant preparing a master copy of the materials, from which duplicates were burned onto DVDs or CDs. Now, source files are often stored in cloud-based repositories or hosted on local servers.
- Published and maintained, in which the material is duplicated or otherwise made available to its intended users, and ongoing inquiries from users—as well as brief updates to the technical content—are managed.
Preparing World-Ready Content
Preparing world-ready content ultimately involves taking content that was created in one culture and changing it for use in another culture. This process includes Translation, Localization, and Globalization.
Assessing Technical Content
Assessing technical content is the process of reviewing technical content against a given set of guidelines to determine its effectiveness. This process is Quality Assurance, which involves editing, creating style guides, reviewing, testing, evaluating quality, and ensuring copyright protection. Assessment of technical content most commonly occurs both before and after publication.
Assessing Before the Content is Published
Before publication, the assessment activities consider:
- The accuracy of the content through reviews by technical reviewers
- The ease with which people are likely to be able to use the content, which is called usability, and performed either by usability experts or by observing people use the content
- The quality of the writing through editing, in which specially trained professionals review materials to ensure that the content follows guidelines, and is formatted for publication.
Assessing After the Content is Published
After publication, the assessment activities consider:
- The accuracy of the content,
- Readers’ satisfaction with the content
- Readers’ ability to use the content as the author intended it
- The overall writing quality
- The value that the content adds to the organization that published it as a result of users performing the tasks intended with it.