Theories and practices in information management include design, development, delivery, quality assurance, translation, globalization, and localization.
Information ManagementInformation Management brings together topics like single-source authoring, topic-based authoring, and content management.
Information DesignInformation Design includes needs assessments, information architecture, and accessibility. You can also find information about instructional design here.
Information DevelopmentInformation Development contains information about writing within genres, writing for particular domains, and working with subject matter experts to obtain content.
Information DeliveryInformation Delivery describes methods and channels for the delivery process, including different types of publishing, and devices to publish to.
Quality AssuranceQuality Assurance includes content about editing, style guides, reviews, testing, evaluating quality, and copyright protection.
Translation, Localization, and GlobalizationTranslation, Localization, and Globalization discusses communication used by people who live in different countries, or speak different languages, or who have different expectations than the writers.
Information Design and Development ProcessDesigning and developing information describes the processes of defining a technical communication project, determining how the content will be presented, developing and producing that content, and assessing the extent to which the content achieves its intended purpose. Specific activities include:
- Creating technical content
- Producing technical content
- Preparing world-ready content
- Assessing technical content
Creating Technical ContentCreating technical content — that is, the explanations of technical products and services, the training materials, the materials to communicate scientific information, or marketing materials — which involves these broad processes (and each of these involves more specific processes of their own):
- 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 ContentProducing technical content is the process by which material is:
- Prepared for publication (whether it’s physically printed or prepared for publication online, as a video, or as an audio recording). For print materials, this means preparing materials that can be used on the printing press. For online, video, and audio materials, this means preparing a master copy of the materials, from which duplicates will be burned onto DVDs or CDs, or be posted on 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 ContentPreparing world-ready content ultimately involves using content that was designed and developed in one country or culture in another.
- In some instances, the content is translated from one language to another.
- In other instances, the content is localized—that is, examples and other references are rewritten so that they are appropriate for the culture in which they will be used (for example, rather than using a Social Security Number, as is used in the US, using a Social Insurance Number, as is used in Canada).
- And in still other instances, the content is translated and localized.
Assessing Technical ContentAssessing technical content is the process of reviewing technical content against a given set of guidelines to determine its effectiveness. Assessment most commonly occurs:
- Before content is published, when assessment activities usually assess the accuracy of the content (through reviews by subject matter experts, called technical reviewers), the ease with which people are likely to be able to use the content (called usability, and performed either by usability experts or by observing people use the content), and the quality of the writing (called editing, in which specially trained professionals review materials as the “first reader,” as well as to ensure that the content follows guidelines, and is formatted for publication.
- After the content is published, when assessment activities assess 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, and the value that the content adds to the organization that published it as a result of users performing the tasks intended with it.