Output requirements


In what formats do you need to deliver your information? Once upon a time, the only answer was print. Then for many organizations, the answer shifted to PDF. After that, it was PDF and HTML. Today, it’s PDF, HTML, and mobile-friendly content. So, output requirements include both media (print, online) and deliverable formats (PDF, HTML, mobile apps).

Start with your existing information products and assess how well they support the business goals. For example, 600-page PDF files are often criticized for being hard to search and slow to open. Do you have customers (internal or external) who need a more lightweight format, such as HTML? On the other hand, if you are using PDF to distribute content to customers so that they can print exactly what you delivered, PDF may be the most appropriate option.

In addition to the actual delivery formats, it is helpful to look at the following factors:

  • Do you need to deliver content variants, such as customer-specific information?
  • Is there a requirement for a complex deployment, such as segmenting information to be delivered on your public web site and on a private web site only available to customers?
  • What language should be displayed by default?
  • What version of the content should be displayed by default?
  • What sort of search functionality is required?
  • Do customers need to see different information based on which product components they have licensed?

These issues affect your delivery strategy.

Armed with a list of delivery formats, you can refine your content delivery requirements. Typical requirements might look like the following:

  • Installation instructions: print
  • Getting started content: print with high production values and/or interactive tutorial
  • Procedural instructions: PDF and web/HTML content, available to the general public
  • System administrator information: PDF and web/HTML content, available to customers with login credentials
Table 1. Output requirements
Content Print PDF HTML Mobile Other
Installation x
Getting started x Interactive tutorial
Procedural x x x EPUB, Kindle
System administration x x
Top 10 issues x Video
Advanced techniques Podcast; wiki
On-the-fly configuration x

In addition to the high-level requirements, you will need to create detailed specifications for each type of output. For example, what video formats will you deliver and where will the video be stored? Will you publish it on a YouTube channel? Do you need to deliver information that is tailored to a specific customer? Do you have a requirement to deliver content to a partner so that the partner can embed the information in their content and rebrand it?

The output requirements will drive the information architecture and then the content authoring, management, and publishing tool selection.



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