DCL/Technical Communication Trends 2014

Trends in the Technical Communication Industry 2014

CIDM Information Management News, June 2014: Trends in the Technical Communication Industry 2014

By JoAnn Hackos, Comtech Services, Inc.

Comparing results from the first annual survey in 2013 to 2014, our biggest surprise, reflecting an emerging industry trend, was the move to HTML publishing. In 2014, 69 percent of respondents reporting publishing content in HTML and delivering the content through a corporate website. In 2013, only 19 percent of respondents reported publishing their content in HTML.

In 2013, only 23 percent of respondents predicted that they would be publishing in HTML in the next two to three years. Clearly, something has changed and changed significantly. In 2014, 80 percent of respondents predicted that they would be publishing in HTML in the next two to three years.

In 2014, 438 managers, writers, editors, publishers, and members of support functions responded to our second annual survey of Trends in the Technical Communication field, an increase of more than 100 participants from our survey in 2013. They are creating a wide variety of information types:

  • User manuals (87 percent)
  • Embedded user assistance (57 percent)
  • Training materials (37 percent)
  • Video (27 percent)
  • Mobile applications (24 percent)

At the same time that HTML publishing is increasing, PDF publishing appears to be decreasing, as we have tracked as a trend for the last several years (shown in Figure 1).

Publishing PDFs to corporate websites is, as we know, the simplest way to publish content, especially when those controlling the websites do not want to develop more complex interfaces to support the content. We also are often told that customers prefer PDFs. However, given the customers rarely know what the alternatives are, this preference is hardly surprising.

Not only is PDF publishing trending downward and HTML publishing trending up, newer forms of communication with customers are trending upward dramatically with the next two to three years:

  • Embedded user assistance (60 percent)
  • Mobile devices (eBook, Kindle, phone, tablets) 62 percent
  • Mobile applications (53 percent)
  • YouTube (26 percent)
  • Wikis (22 percent)

Joann T. Hackos, CIDM

Joann T. Hackos is the Director of the Center for Information-Development Management (CIDM).