It’s always a good idea to first spend some time in planning your project and not jump straight into authoring. Think of the business goal you are trying to accomplish and the audience you need to serve. The resources you have for creating and delivering the content also impact the decisions you make while planning the project. If you would like multiple authors to collaborate on a project, planning the project is especially important to ensure quality and maximize resource usage.
The size of your authoring team is an important consideration for determining the type of processes and tools to put in place. For example, if multiple authors need to collaborate on creating and delivering your content, integrating a version control system is always a good idea. Similarly, creating and maintaining glossaries, common assets, and authoring and publishing guidelines helps ensure content quality in a multi-author setup.
If your publishing requirements are voluminous and varied, you might need to have authoring and output generation handled by separate groups of team members. In such a case, plan the processes and protocols in such a way that the team can use the power and built-in capabilities of RoboHelp to implement an efficient, frictionless system of delivery. If there are designers in the team, make sure that authors, designers, and publishing experts collaborate on creating master pages and skins for optimal layout design.
Identify the different output types you need. Would there be a need for additional output types later? If yes, what can you do now to make adding an output type later easier? If you plan to host the output on a server, do you need to work with your IT admin? If you plan to generate a Mobile App output, do you need to outline the guidelines for writing bite-sized topics? Do you need to maintain content for multiple versions of a product or deliver content for two co-existing experiences of a single feature? Plan whether you need to define condition tags and expressions so you can include conditional content in different types of output. Plan variable sets for different types of output.
To ensure that the content experience meets the expectation of your target audience, spend time visualizing the look and feel of the output. Check out the skins that come with RoboHelp and see whether you need to tweak or touch up available skins or create skins. Plan to invest in creating a great style sheet so your end users have a great content consumption experience.
Do you have content available in other formats? For example, you might have FAQs, solutions, case studies, and other types of high-quality content authored by Subject Matter Experts in Microsoft Word. If yes, you can import this content easily in RoboHelp. However, make sure that you review the various Word import settings and make decisions about the style, formatting, and various other aspects of the imported content. If there are Adobe Captivate videos for the content you are delivering, you can integrate them in your content and provide users a rich, immersive content experience.
Before you create tons of content, make sure that you design how end users can navigate the content in the output. How do you want to organize the topics and the content inside each topic? How many levels of folders do you want to allow? How many levels of headings should be used to organize the content in a topic? Do you want different TOCs for different output types or variants? For example, you might want to plan for different TOCs if you want to generate output variants for PDF output and Responsive HTML output or for different Help systems for internal and external users. Similarly, if you want to create separate Help systems for beginners and advanced users from the same project, you will need to plan for different TOCs.
One of the key strengths of RoboHelp is the support for implementing content reusability. Identify the types of information that need to be consistently used across the project. If they change often or change late in your project cycle, use variables and snippets to author and update them in one place and use them several times in your project.
Plan to implement a consistent and professional look-and-feel for the various elements of your content using styles. What’s best, RoboHelp lets you disallow inline formatting at a project level. So before you start authoring, make the decision to allow or disallow inline formatting. If you want to allow inline formatting, make sure that you define and follow some conventions so the content is consistently formatted. For example, if you want that all UI terms mentioned in the content should be in bold, make sure that you define this convention in the planning stage of your project and follow it consistently while authoring.
It’s always a good idea to invest in a glossary. Identifying the terms and providing clear descriptions of the terms helps your end users absorb the concepts and instructions. What’s more, the glossary helps authors to establish a consistent verbiage across the project and provide a seamless and authentic user experience. RoboHelp lets you create and maintain more than one glossary in a project. So you can even have a glossary that is only for authors and not included in the project output. You can also have multiple glossaries for users and choose to include or exclude from the specific types of output.
Make use of RoboHelp’s built-in capabilities to define a governance framework for your content. Define the list of topic statuses and encourage the authors to use them consistently. Use the various RoboHelp reports effectively to identify errors and inconsistencies in different components and make global updates. Keep your projects clean and robust by removing unused assets and project components. You can even maintain your guidelines and author notes within the project in topics that you can exclude from project output.