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Best practices for organizing technical content????

  • 15 November 2023
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Hello fellow knowledge managers, documentation specialists, and Guru champions!

Our company is revisiting it’s strategy with our technical documentation, particularly looking in to how we can have an effective tagging strategy (determining those attributes to tag) and reconsidering how our content is organized across team collections. Are there any tech company folks who are happy with how they are tackling their technical documentation that might be up for a conversation (a good old fashion knowledge transfer)?

Mentioning broadly 😬 @David MacVicar @Alex Armstead @BethAnne Freund @Cecilia M Ellison @brookethebatman @Mirna Lessinger 

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Best answer by brookethebatman 15 November 2023, 14:27

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Hey Lynn, 

I think if you’re considering reorganizing your content across collections and better understanding tagging, you may benefit from a bit of research into Information Architecture (IA) if you haven’t already. 

IA covers how to organize information, content analysis, categories and labels, site structure, navigation and wayfinding, and tags and taxonomies. I’ve found it extremely helpful in figuring out the structure of content and validating that structure, as well as determining the approach for tagging for many projects now. Linking some helpful resources for you to get started: 

 

That said, I think the biggest piece of advice that’s worked well for me and may work well for others like yourself, is to just ensure that whatever structure you set in place, you document the best practices (e.g., how will the new tagging system work? where will new content fit in? when will new categories/collections be spun up?), set up a feedback loop so you can monitor the effectiveness of your tagging + new structure, and of course, implement any changes that are required that arise from your feedback loop.

This should hopefully lead to healthy and trusted documentation that works as effectively as possible for your users, and be easy to manage for folks contributing to it (this is where the best practices/style guide comes in handy!).

Hope this helps! Super curious to hear how other folks are approaching this issue and if there are any new suggestions I haven’t considered as well. 

 

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I actually just had a convo about tagging strategy earlier today! I think it’s super easy to tag things because you think you might need them to be tagged, but my general approach for tagging is to only tag things based on one of two needs: 

  • Do you need to filter a specific subsection of content that crosses other bucketing methods (e.g. folders, collections, etc.) for data/reporting needs? 
    • For example, content related to a specific product launch where you try a new documentation strategy and want to evaluate effectiveness afterwards

OR

  • Do you need users to be able to find all content related to a specific topic across folders/collections? 

If you don’t need to do either of those things with a tag, don’t make the tag.

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My best advice is to listen to @brookethebatman!

And I second @Cecilia M Ellison’s point to not go wild with tags.

Looks like you’re already in Write the Docs, but just a reminder to check out their resources, like https://www.writethedocs.org/topics/#information-architecture and their full video archives.

Depending on what kind of technical documentation you’re dealing with and the audience(s), the Diátaxis framework might be a helpful starting point.

I’m also interested to hear whether you have any specific thoughts or concerns at this stage…?

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