I’ve been working for MEI on the Customer Success team for approximately six years. My primary responsibility is to provide software training and support for our customers using TruEdit and the Twixl Publisher and Adobe Experience Manager Mobile app building platforms. The range and depth of knowledge that is required to stay on top of responsive content authoring and these mobile app platforms can be astounding. My challenge is to communicate detailed and complex software configurations, techniques and best practices in a clear and cogent format for experienced and new users. My typical day includes leading remote training sessions, calls with clients to work through issues ranging from problems with an image in an InDesign file to techniques for displaying fonts on an HTML page, to providing assistance with building and submitting applications to iTunes and Google Play.
My role here at MEI requires that a majority of my time is spent working and interacting with clients. This gives me a unique insight into their challenges when working on their publishing projects. I have built great working relationships during the many hours of training, troubleshooting and just shooting the breeze. I enjoy this part of my job and I think the clients do too. One of my clients once sent me a “Sweet and Salty” gift basket as a thank you, which I think was meant as a comment on my patient but thorough training style. Another client based in Utah was so gracious as to track down a local pizzeria and send me a surprise pizza lunch to the office. I like pepperoni pizza by the way – for future reference.
I’ve trained hundreds of people across dozens of companies. I’ve answered hundreds of support questions and I have reviewed even more. Through all of that, I’ve discovered that the biggest challenges I encounter with clients are not necessarily about technical skills or software – rather it is providing assistance on the transition from traditional publishing to digital publishing. Here are a few pointers that I always share:
Mobile must be part of the strategy
Mobile devices reach into every corner of home and business on the planet. We willingly bring them along with us on our daily routines and more often than not these devices consume a great deal of time in our daily routine. According to studies, the average U.S. consumers now spends up to 5 hours per day on their mobile devices — that’s 35 hours a week, which is just shy of a typical 40-hour workweek! It’s critical for a publisher to adapt a mobile and content strategy that enables them to create, update and deliver mobile-friendly content.
Don’t treat your mobile content initiatives as an afterthought
One of the first hurdles is the process for transitioning content intended for print production by massaging it into a format that is optimized for a tablet, phone, or a website. Treating your digital “mobile” friendly content as an afterthought in your print workflow doesn’t work. Stop thinking about how to make a double page spread look good on a phone and start thinking about how the elements can fit together on mobile screens to best convey the story. It does not mean that you stop designing pages, it just means you don’t need to rely on a print layout as your starting point.
Create your content in a malleable way from the very beginning
Create your content in an HTML format that is flexible and responsive so that it can be easily adapted for any and all devices as well as for print output. Eliminate the need to create multiple layouts to address various tablet sizes, phone sizes, print pages and web content. If you can produce content that is in a format that is responsive, the time saved by not having to re-create the same content can be applied in far more creative ways. You can create the content once and output to several channels without the need to redesign or layout the content in numerous ways. My value to the MEI clients is based on making them more efficient and focused on the creative and substantive aspects of content creation and design – not manually re-formatting the same content for different output channels.
Don’t abandon the most critical aspects of your traditional workflow process
A content creation process that allows people to work independently or together as a team in order to leverage the many skills and tasks needed to produce great content and be efficient are keys to success. Allowing teams to monitor and control different aspects of a project is critical in a multi-channel production process.
You don’t need give up those tried and true workflow steps that have worked well for your team in your current workflow. Bring those same controls to your digital workflow using a tool like TruEdit.
Every day, digital content creation is changing and I strive to stay on top of best practices.