Just because no-one reads the manual from cover to cover doesn’t mean that they don’t want some of the information that is in it.

Over 450 organisations have now adopted DITA-xml for their technical product information because it allows them to make that information easily available to the people who need to know it. This is not only useful for the existing and prospective customers, it can also be a life saver.

Product information is moving from a “document” paradigm to a “topic” paradigm. Nowadays content is most commonly accessed using search engines on the web or a smartphone. This means that content is no longer consumed in a linear way – starting from page one and reading all the way through. Documents are not suited to this type of consumption – but topics are.

Topics are discreet units of information. This granularity means they can be targeted to specific audiences, and so take advantage of current consumption preferences.

By developing a content strategy, organisations can identify the types of topics required for each of their audience groups, for example, customers, internal users, and also prospective customers.

A topic-based approach supports content reuse which can reduce the time to market and content production costs. In addition, focusing on granular content fits well with agile development environments.

DITA is becoming increasingly widespread because it supports topic-based content production and so enables organisations to realise the benefits of improved customer experience, and support content marketing strategies.

Because DITA is an xml-based technology it can be used to provide output for mobile, web, and also internal support systems, or just plain-old PDF. So adopting DITA for topic-based authoring can support both an organisation’s strategy, as well as customers’ demands for timely, accurate and relevant information.