Why reuse content?
Today's businesses are overwhelmed with the need to create more content, more quickly, customized for more customers and for more media than ever before. Combine this with the issues of decreasing resources, time, and budgets, and you have a stressful situation for organizations and their content creators.
Reusing content can provide a dramatic improvement in the way content is created in an organization. Improvements include increased quality and consistency and long-term reduced time and costs for development and maintenance. In addition, reuse provides support for rapid reconfiguration of your content to meet changing needs, facilitates content inventory, and makes it easier to assess content needs. Reusing content provides the following advantages:
- Increased consistency
When content is written once and reused many times, it ensures that the content is consistent wherever it is used. This consistency leads to higher-quality content.
Content written for reuse is structured content. Structured content is content that is similarly structured for similar types of information. Structured content leads to a more consistent writing style.
Reduced development and maintenance costs
Development costs are reduced because the amount of content a content creator has to create is reduced. Rather than writing all new content, or taking the time to find and copy content to be reused, reusable content is either rapidly available through improved management facilities (such as, metadata and content management) or is automatically made available to the author (systematic reuse). In addition, your content is better organized and processes are more efficient, reducing costs further.
When content is changed, content is automatically changed everywhere it is reused. Your organization does not have to determine every place that content exists, either in its original form or in a modified form; it is automatically tracked by the content management system for rapid selection and update.
Reusable content is modular content (small self-contained components that can be used in combination with other components). In today's rapidly changing world, products and customer requirements are constantly changing. Modular reusable content makes it easy for organizations to rapidly reconfigure their content to meet changing needs. You can easily change the order of modules, include new modules, exclude existing modules, identify whether something is missing (and what it might be), and use modules to build entirely new information products to meet new needs.
The cost of translation can be significantly reduced through reuse. Although translation memory systems have assisted organizations to reduce costs through pattern matching, reuse further reduces the cost. Each time content is sent for translation, it is run through the memory translation tool to identify content strings (text) that already have been translated. When content is reused, any content that has been reused and already translated can be automatically inserted into the version to be translated. This means that the previously translated content is skipped and the time to identify content that must be translated is reduced. Alternatively, if your content management system does not support the automatic insertion of previously translated content, you can ensure that the translator receives only the elements that require translation.
You can also rapidly reconfigure translated content and even deliver brand new information products from existing elements that have already been translated, without ever having to send the content to translation and pay additional costs!
The less easily measured benefits of consistent structure, consistent terminology, and standardized writing guidelines that reuse requires also reduce the costs of translation.
Finally, often a large cost in translation is in reformatting content. Frequently content must be converted from the original source format to RTF (Rich Text Format) before it can be translated into the target format (for example, Help, FrameMaker, HTML). When it is converted it loses much of its formatting. When content is separated from format, it is easy to automatically reformat content, regardless of language (see Chapter 20, "Separating content from format").