Visually Inspire Communication

Create adaptive learning environments with your coworkers  Рillustrate data with infographics and share a story with an interactive presentation.

Scenario #1: Create infographics using Piktochart
My objective is to make static documentation interactive. An infographic enriched with color, easy-to-follow data and hyperlinks to wiki content and videos or GIFs was the best choice.

Identify audience and the best way to present ideas to the user. How should users interact with the information? Determine what content to use; often times statistical data can be represented as charts or simple graphics. Keep in mind less is more, so chunk content with different colors or blocks to separate text like shown here:
image

You want a natural flow of progression when reading the document. Try to make eye-popping designs with little distractions to esthetics. Incorporate themes, embed graphics, videos and map plugins to engage users. In the end, you will have an infographic that is dynamic, appealing and promotes communication throughout the organization.

Piktochart is a free application available for download on my native PC. This program enabled me to choose preloaded templates or start a project from scratch. I enjoyed the user-friendly interface.

Use Also: visual.ly, infogr.am, Snag-It

Scenario #2: Create interactive presentations using Intuilab
Think Powerpoint2.0. Business presentations are no longer boring slides with lame animation or remote clickers with lazer pointers. Instead, presentations are interactive and reinventing communication.

Convey a message by guiding your users through a digital experience that tells a story. Interact with the slides; maximize the screen, highlight, swipe and draw over images.
Deliver and collaborate amongst coworkers in the cloud. Build presentations and distribute across multiple platforms and devices.

Intuilab appealed to me because of its touch screen capabilities. I also was able to learn this software quickly providing “if, then” statements that replaced code. Pros: All access sandbox. Cons: Compatible only with Windows 7 & 8; HTML release by the end of 2013.

Use Also: swipe.to, prezi, mural.ly

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How is technical communications evolving?

In the few short years I’ve been in the biz, I’ve seen a drastic push for online help in replacing traditional text outputs. The bible-length manuals we used to print were often seen as an afterthought for products. While each doc set has a particular purpose and audience, companies are now looking to social collaboration to drive customer satisfaction. Wikis with embedded social help features offer real-time customer feedback about a product, crucial from a developer’s standpoint and marketing teams post launch.

Microsoft SharePoint: ‘Yammer’ is a social media tool fostering collaboration, knowledge and efficiency. There are endless possibilities with¬† apps and open APIs to be explored. Naturally Yammer is paired with Microsoft products; which means, a Microsoft Dynamics integration supersedes Salesforce CRM.

Mindtouch: ‘A social help system that includes a knowledge base, help center, ticketing integration and a help button.’ Enough said.

Atlassian Confluence Wiki: A robust system designed with JIRA users in mind. Some key features are: Embed Google docs, Scroll Version, and team calendars. Want a slimmer version, perhaps on a diet? Try Confluence Blueprints.

MadCap Flare: ‘Pulse’ is a social collaboration platform in conjunction with the Help Authoring Tool. While pricey, MadCap serves the purpose in finding one software to do five, ten, fifty, one hundred tasks in one.

Want to read more about wikis?: Follow the discussion on LinkedIn.

The next generation of wikis

Did you know the origin of the word wiki is Hawaiian, meaning quick, fast? Wikis are website portals that are open for anyone to edit content. I use the word portal precisely as wikis are not static webpages. You can navigate from any one given point and easily be redirected to other sources for PDF files, video links, etc. It is meant to be on the cloud, meaning anyone can contribute, but there are also precautions that can be made in order to manage user’s views and permissions of content.

In tech writing, wikis are replacing the traditional user manual. No longer will you have to print out a ten-page quick start guide for a product, but instead enjoy a much more friendly user experience. Wikis are interactive, intuitive and visible throughout the organization.

Some of the top wiki providers are Mediawiki, Confluence, and Dokuwiki. One company offering an alternative solution to Confluence Wiki, however, is Mindtouch.

There are a few key features that beats the rest:
– Mindtouch’s product is context-sensitive
– Offers a robust reporting feature (aka Google Analytics for Marketing)
– Integrates CRM (Salesforce) data for real-time product feedback
– Bug tracking system that can replace or used in conjunction with JIRA
– More outputs and even offers an easy Flare-to-Mindtouch wiki migration
– and did I mention Agile friendly?

So get on board with Mindtouch, because they are redefining the user manual with a more impressive wiki.