Survey Shows Searchable Content in High Demand

Apr 14, 2015

The third annual "Following the Trends -Is Your Content Ready" survey found content developers have increased the range of tools they use to deliver technical content, and while they recognize the need to manage digital content across platforms and outputs, they struggle with resource constraints in meeting customer demands. The survey was jointly conducted by Data Conversion Laboratory (DCL) and the Center for Information Development Management (CIDM).

More than 83% of respondents said they use an XML editing tool as their primary means of creating content. Only 36% report Microsoft Word as their primary tool, although another 64% include it as a secondary or tertiary tool. Unstructured Adobe FrameMaker maintains a sizable presence in the content developer's toolkit, with nearly a third of total respondents using it to some degree. A third also listed an HTML editor.

While 87% od respondents include PDF as a format they currently publish to, by the end of 2015, 45% plan to publish between 75 and 100% of their content electronically (non-PDF or print). Dynamic content delivery systems are gaining a foothold among content professionals, with more than one-third saying that they will make up a significant percentage of their delivery within the next three years; only 8% have no digital publishing planned or in place.

Search remains an area of great interest with 68% of respondents reporting that customers are requesting searchable content. Customers are also asking for learning videos (56%) and mobile content (46% in 2015 versus 64% in 2014). However, content search remains an area of concern for providers with 68% of content developers reporting a need to improve the search capability in their content, and 40% reporting an inability to offer faceted search. In addition, 30% note that multiple versions of content make findability an issue for their customers.

The 2015 survey showed a slight drop in the number of professionals that say their content is ready to support digital business requirements in next two years (44% in 2015 versus 48% in 2014). Over half (56%) of respondents say they're not ready or aren't sure. However, many barriers for moving to electronic delivery stand in the way. Insufficient staff to manage the change (76%), budget problems (56%), lack of knowledge in developing content for electronic publishing (40%), and a negative experience with a first try (18%) suggest that people need assistance in handling change.

A large percentage of respondents still plan to address conversion and development of digital content with totally in-house solutions (57% in 2015 versus 52% in 2014), 41% plan on a hybrid approach of in-house and outsourced expertise, with 6% relying on totally outsourced solutions.

More than 300 professionals responded to the 2015 survey, and most report handling more than one role in their organizations. Among the participants, 56% indicated that they are writers, while 38% serve as managers, 35% as information architects, and 28% as content strategists. The vast majority of respondents work for technology organizations, with 81% in computer software, hardware, electronics, and engineering firms.