In the world of content creation and editing, tracking the tools used across the entire industry can be tricky. For example, tools at one enterprise that facilitate collaboration while preserving authorship may be less valuable to another enterprise that needs integrated formatting and the ability to embed rich media.
In its exploration of content creation and management trends in 2016, the Center for Information-Development Management issued a survey to 328 individuals across the entire content creation spectrum. Writers, managers, information architects, content strategists, editors and a small contingent of IT support, customer services and publishers were represented – with the overwhelming majority of respondents representing computer software companies.
The survey sought to answer a few basic questions: What tools do you use to create and manage content? What kind of content do you most frequently develop? How will this content be published in years to come?
Tools of the trade
As one might imagine, DITA played a significant role in content creation across all respondents. Roughly 74 percent of those surveyed reported using some kind of DITA-capable XML Editor as their primary content creation tool, far exceeding other tools. Following that, 66 percent reportedly used Madcap Flare, 53 percent Unstructured Adobe FrameMaker, 43 percent Adobe InDesign and finally, at 38 percent, Microsoft Word.
Microsoft Word's fall from preeminence for content creators is somewhat predictable. Content experts across the industry have been predicting the end of generic simple document creators, with many saying that basic text-to-HTML conversion tools like Markdown will render Word virtually obsolete among professional content creators.
One of the more fascinating insights in this data is the role native HTML authorship plays in content creation: While few survey respondents (25 percent) claimed an HTML editor as a primary tool, it was overwhelmingly the favorite secondary tool across all categories – coming in at a total of 52 percent. From this, we can extrapolate that content creators:
- Are shifting away from creating HTML first/only content.
- Still require HTML editing tools to fully leverage content production and publishing.
Where is content being published?
This seems to follow data insights related to falling use of HTML-based delivery: While still the preferred means of publishing for almost 75 percent of survey respondents, mobile is coming up rapidly – albeit with content creators seemingly confused as to how to fully leverage it.
"We were interested to learn how organizations are approaching publishing to mobile devices, since we advocate designing content differently for mobile devices," the authors of the CIDM survey stated. "Fully 38 percent report that their content is the same on all devices. Some publish more content on mobile devices (only 4 percent); more publishing less content (24 percent)."
The one not mentioned: Localization
This points to the fact that mobile content creation tools are still not being considered separately to traditional content creation. One facet not mentioned in the CIDM survey is localization. Yet this seems to ignore one of the fundamental tenants of the mobile experience: that localized UX is a crucial element for consumer engagement and must be taken into account in the creation of specific content. Tech.Co emphasizes that, for mobile experiences related to e-commerce, localization tools beyond simply translation are key as well.
"If you're doing this, be sure to use widely accepted localization packages or hire an expert to work on the content for you as there will be nuances across languages that even Google Translate doesn't quite get yet," wrote Tech.Co's Joe Liebkind. While mainstream content creators may be focused on issues related to format conversions, the greater topic of authoring content for diverse audiences seems to be underrepresented.