One approach to creating content is to focus on what tasks the user is trying to accomplish with your product or service and develop the content around those tasks. For example, let's say you are selling software and you have a really cool feature you want to share with your users. If you document that feature in terms of what it will help a user do, such as "how to generate a report," the user might be more drawn to the information because generating a report is a goal for a user. By reading that content, the user will then learn about how the cool feature will help the user generate a report.
If you follow a feature-based approach, you create content based on what the features are and how you work with that feature. In the scenario above, you would document the feature as "Feature A" in a manual. Your users may not look at that section because they don't know what "Feature A" is and how it may help them.
Developing task-based content is a strategy which can lead to a good user experience, less content to manage and reduced costs while improving consistency. In this blog post, we will take a deeper dive into the task-based content approach and how it fits into a larger content strategy.
Applying a Task-Based Content Approach
Task-based content can often be found in technical content, such as installation, operation and troubleshooting material. Some examples are:
- Handling software error messages
- Changing the oil in your car
- Setting up your printer
Writing in a structured way, such as using XML and following a standard like DITA, is a method of breaking down content into elements such as tasks, concepts and references. This type of writing lends itself well to task-based content.
Website copy is another good area where you can apply task-oriented writing. What are users trying to accomplish by going to your website and how can you help them get the information they are looking for? Whether it is downloading a form, reading an article or upgrading software, make the navigation and content as easy to follow and use as possible.
Understanding Your Customers
To write content based on user tasks, you first need to really understand who your customers are and their responsibilities and goals by developing personas. Once you do that, you can target content along each stage of the buyer's journey.
Developing Task-Based Content
- Always keep your audience in mind. It can be helpful to hang up your personas near your workstation so they stay on the forefront of your mind.
- Make sure the content is focused only on the users' goals. If needed, you can always provide links to other tasks or reference information.
- A user may get to the information without reading anything else, so make sure the content is complete and can stand alone.
How Task-Based Content Fits into a Content Strategy
Writing task-based content can be an important part of a larger content strategy. As a result of more focused content, you can help users accomplish their goals more quickly, leading to a positive customer experience. You will most likely find that you generate less content, thereby reducing your authoring, translation and maintenance costs. It will also simplify the translated content.
To get started with this approach, as I mentioned before, you first need to understand your audience. Next, do a content audit to understand the state of the content you have, whether it is technical content, marketing content or web content. Establishing standard terminology and developing a content reuse strategy before you begin changing your content can help improve consistency and reduce costs.
Resources for Content Localization and Content Strategy
You may gain further insight into content strategy, content localization, translations and related topics by reviewing previous blogs written by GPI:
- Content Strategy Part 1: Content Audits
- Content Audits Part 2: Technical Content Audits
- Content Audits Part 3: Marketing Collateral Audits
- Content Audits Part 4: Web Content Audits
- Content Strategy: Auditing for Localization
GPI's content strategists and localization specialists can help analyze your website and provide guidance on any localization and global digital marketing requirements. GPI also offers Global Search Engine Marketing Services and many other Translation Services.
Please feel free to contact GPI at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions about our language and technology services. Also let us know if you have any interesting blog topics you would like us to cover in our future blogs. You may request a complimentary Translation Quote for your projects as well.
About the Author
Daniela has over 16 years experience in the translation, localization and language instruction professions. She holds a degree in Sworn, Literary, Technical, and Scientific Translation from the Instituto Nacional de Enseñanza Superior Olga Cossettini in Rosario, Argentina. Starting her career as a translator for English-Spanish/Spanish-English in 1990 over the years she has worked for several Localization Agencies as a translator, assistant project manager and senior project manager. She has completed a wide range of professional certifications in document and website localization with emphasis on translation, budgeting, quality control and project management including The Localization Institute’s Triple Certification in Localization Project Management (Localization Institute Chico, CA, USA).More Content by Daniela Bustamante