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With the 2014 LavaCon Content Strategy and User Experience Conference right around the corner, MindTouch has reached out to Jack Molisani, Executive Director of LavaCon, to get the inside scoop on why #LavaCon will be the must-go-to conference of the year! As long-time participants, we’re honored to have an opportunity to sponsor such an amazing event!

MindTouch: What is LavaCon?
Jack Molisani: LavaCon is a gathering place for content strategists, user experience designers, documentation managers, and other content professionals. It’s a conference taught by industry experts for industry experts.

MindTouch: When/where is the conference?  How long has it been around?

Jack Molisani: This is our 12th annual conference. This year’s event is October 12–15, in Portland, Oregon.

hilton21-300x192MindTouch: Do you have an interesting story behind the founding of LavaCon?
Jack Molisani:
In 1998, at the Society for Technical Communication (STC) annual leadership day, someone said, “It’s a shame that people in the Pacific Rim chapters rarely go to their own regional conferences because they’re always held on the mainland.” Someone suggested we have a combined regional 7/8 conference and hold it smack-dab in the middle, in Hawaii. I raised my hand and said, “I’ll run that one!” 


Our break-even point was 140 people; 560 showed up. It was an incredible success. Everyone kept saying, “I can’t wait until next year!” But…there was no “next year.” It was a one-time event. I didn’t want to throw away two years of hard earned planning experience, and since I’d observed that there were never enough sessions at the STC conference for senior managers and strategists, I decided to start LavaCon in Hawaii (hence the name LavaCon). 


When the economy got rough in 2008, it was hard for people to get approval to go to Hawaii, so I started holding the conference on the mainland (we’re in Portland this year).  But I still hold events in Hawaii periodically.

MindTouch: What is content strategy and how does it tie into user experience?
Jack Molisani: I’d like to start with an example. Take a company like Herbalife that has 150 products, each of which need an ingredient list, a sales brochure, a promotional video, and more. Multiply that by the 91 countries where they sell their products (with localized content). It would be absolutely impossible manage all that content in individual files. Someone has to figure out how to take all that content, put it in a database, and publish it when they want it, where they want it, and in the language and format that they want it. The person who does that is a content strategist.

How does content strategy relate to user experience? We’ve finally realized we can’t have the marketing people saying one thing, sales people saying another, technical writers something else, and who knows what the support people are saying as none of these silos are (have been) coordinating and reusing content. We need to have consistent user experience across sales, marketing, purchasing, users, and support. You need a good content strategy to achieve that.

MindTouch: Will Customer Success be covered at LavaCon?
Jack Molisani: Yes. We don’t have a specific track called “customer success,” but Aaron Fulkerson, from MindTouch, is presenting Customer Success: Focusing on Customer Needs Not Topics. All of the case studies in the program highlight how companies took a content challenge and turned it into customer success.

image003MindTouch: What’s the benefit of going to LavaCon?  
Jack Molisani: Our focus this year is on reducing cost and generating revenue through better content strategy. Look at it this way: you will learn so many ways to add to your organization’s bottom line that they will lose money by not sending you!

That said, LavaCon is a gathering place for industry experts.  It’s one thing for a consultant to say “you should do this.” It’s quite another to talk with your peers who are actually doing it. LavaCon speakers are active professionals in their fields – industry experts who are willing to share best practices and lessons learned (both what worked, and what didn’t). Since you are networking with people who are currently implementing successful content strategies, you can ask them specific questions. What about this? Have you run into this problem? It’s almost like crowdsourcing your own particular consulting experience by asking speakers and attendees. This is what we’re running into, have you run into this, and how did you handle it? That’s better than just listening to a podcast, for sure!

MindTouch: Tell us about the food. I heard LavaCon is known for it.

Jack Molisani: One of the things that I’ve discovered as an attendee at a conference is that a little attention to detail goes a long way. Because Portland is such an organic / foodie / farm-to-table town, I sat down with the hotel Chef and came up with an amazing menu. Another thing we did that we’re going to do again this year is a “living salad bar” at lunch where the chefs have trays and trays of living organic lettuces. You point to the ones you want and they take shears, cut the lettuces, and hand you your salad. It doesn’t get any more alive and fresh than that!

MindTouch: How are registrations going?
Jack Molisani: Really well! We did highest ever last year and I just ran a report showing registrations are up 80% over where they were this time last year. We may come close to doubling in size this year.

MindTouch: At LavaCon are there any special events that people should look out for?
Jack Molisani: We always start the conference with an optional culinary food tour. WebWorks traditionally sponsors a karaoke night, and we always do a pub crawl TweetUp. You will certainly have plenty of opportunities to network, so don’t forget your business cards!

Registration Information:
Early registration for LavaCon ends Sept 12th. Use referral code MINDTOUCH to get a $100 discount off your conference tuition.

See you in Portland! 

New Feature for All Site Visitors: Consistent User Experience Across Popup Dialogs

  • Many years ago, MindTouch used the YAHOO User Interface (YUI) JavaScript and CSS library to create popup dialogs for actions such as moving a page or file, copying a page, editing a link, and embedding an image in a page.
  • In 2012, MindTouch began to develop popup dialogs with the jQuery UI library, with the intent of also replacing the YUI developed popup dialogs in the future. jQuery UI is a better maintained, more powerful framework, with a great developer community. The transition is finally complete, and all YUI developed popup dialogs have been replaced with jQuery UI developed ones, creating a consistent user experience across MindTouch sites.

​​Deprecation of the Extensions Dialog.

​​New Feature for All Site Visitors:  User Interface Localization for Danish and Traditional Chinese (Taiwan)

Changes to Existing Features

  • In preparation for some upcoming improvements to our search infrastructure, we are removing page comments from Search and GeniusSearch results.

Bug Fixes for Site Administrators

  • Anonymous users, via the user management control panel, could be added to security groups. The ability to add an anonymous user to a group has been removed.

Bug Fixes for Authors and Content Managers

  • When pasting multiple table cells from one page table to another, if the destination table requires new columns or rows to be created, the content from the cells would not paste.
  • When entering content into a format definition list (bullet lists, numerical lists), clicking enter twice did not exit the cursor out of the format definition list.
  • Searching for a non-existing user in the User Contributions view would prevent subsequent searches from being performed.
  • Uploading file types that are not allowed (such as HTML) would not display a message explaining why the upload was rejected.

​​Known Issues

  • PrintBook will sporadically duplicate pages in the page tree.
  • A DekiScript error will occur in the Site Activity Report when the site’s localization is set to Japanese.

New MindTouch Documentation

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No matter what industry you’re in, speed matters. Businesses are highly invested in helping their internal teams and their external content contributors deliver value to customers instantly.

This is why the MindTouch Page Classification Manager is a game-changer. To consistently improve upon and create quality, up-to-date content, you and your business need to be able to quickly search, organize, and manage all the content (and real-time contributions) in your organization. By being able to quickly visualize and understand your current content strategy, you will be able to take a more actionable approach to customer success.

What is the Page Classification Manager?

The Page Classification Manager is an out-of-the-box, centralized interface for content managers. It lets you instantly organize, filter, and surface content (by Article Types, Stages, and Custom Classifications) in real-time throughout your entire site. This allow you to:

  • Identify holes in your documentation
  • Batch update articles
  • Monitor content creation and process
  • Determine product to documentation process

Page_Classification_filteringWhat Can the Page Classification Manager Do For Me? 

When you deal with users, there’s always a highly variable range of expertise. Businesses often struggle to create content that will cater to and allow all of their users to successfully self-serve. MindTouch solves this with the page classification manager.

By using Custom Classifications, you and your business can identify, filter, and surface all your content by its intended, targeted use case.

How Your Page Classification Manager Contributes to Your Customers’ Success 

It is no longer enough to simply provide a simple break-fix answer. When a user digs in and starts gaining expertise with your product, they will inevitably run into questions that they’d like to self-serve and find solutions to. Though an article may exist with a relevant solution, it may not provide enough depth to help a user of that particular level of expertise (or use case). It is, therefore, important for all those who touch the article – be they content creators, content managers, or even users – to understand the intended target audience for the article. This will improve search, usability, and reduce effort – all essential to helping your customers succeed.

Bottom Line:

The Page Classification Manager helps you visualize your content strategy, understand who your content targets, and learn how to become better at customer success.

This summer, MindTouch expanded its internship program and brought in 7 college students from a number of top tier universities including: UCSD, SDSU, UCSC and CareersPitzer. MindTouch participated in UCSD’s Academic Internship Program (AIP) which allows juniors & seniors to receive college credit while getting real-life experience. We received two great interns from this program – Paradee Sangkhapet and Zhaoyang Zeng. They joined the Engineering department as Quality Assurance testers along with Chantal Estevez (Pitzer), Ahjay Sidhu (SDSU) and Sahil Sangani (UCSC). They had an extremely productive summer where they:

  1. Ran, updated, and created software regression tests.
  2. Worked on test plans for new features.
  3. Created, ran, and updated our new Selenium driven test automation suite.  Helping us develop best practices for a new feature used by our QA Team.

Miller Saltzman joined the Customer Success team for his second summer at MindTouch.  He aided with developing a new documentation process, reviewing and editing new and updated help docs on our Customer Success site. All of which helped him hone his communication skills, creativity, and problem solving skills. Miller also spearheaded the MindTouch Garden project!

Interns

 

From left to right:  Miller Saltzman, Zhaoyang Zeng, Ahjay Sidhu, Chantal Estevez, Paradee Sangkhape, Sahil Sangani, and Thomas Friedrich

Thomas Friedrich

I have been working at MindTouch for just over 3 years now and I couldn’t imagine going anywhere else. After just the first week of working here, everybody knew me by name and welcomed me with opened arms. I honestly believe that these people are now my second family. They shape my life and I am sure I have shaped theirs in some small way. I have improved my abilities to work in teams, meet deadlines, not be afraid to ask for help or clarification, and so so much more. However, with this family, just as if it was off a television show, we are all unique characters here. The life everybody brings to it and the small and tight-knit group we have makes “work” a very fun place, which not everybody can say.   I am proud to call MindTouch my home.

Ahjay Sidhu

I have just started working at MindTouch this summer and it has been a great experience to be a part of. The environment created at MindTouch is great and a place where if you have any question, inquiry, or ideas people are open to listen and respond. I work for the QA Department here at MindTouch, but throughout my time here I have had the opportunity to learn about the Engineering team, Sales, and Support who all work together to keep this company moving forward. It’s great seeing pieces of the site grow from week to week with new innovations that add real quality.

Sahil Sangani

Having just finished my freshman year at UCSC, I could not have asked for a better place to be this summer.  Working on the QA team is a great experience because both the work that is done and the people I do it with.  I am currently studying computer science and because of that people ask me all the time what I’m planning on pursuing as a career.  Usually my answer revolves around something to do with programming and business or the classic “I don’t know yet”.  However, here at MindTouch, I have been exposed to many different fields which helps guide me toward what I like and don’t like.  It is a fun work environment and I’m stoked I have this opportunity.

Paradee Sangkhapet

This summer has been a wonderful and incredible experience! As a student of Electrical Engineering, I always want to apply the skills I learn in class to the real world. Whether to invent new products, to help consumers with technical difficulties, or to make life-relevant brands through social networking, I would like to use my skills to solve complex problems that would make a difference in people’s lives. MindTouch has definitely helped me in developing these crucial skills. The experience here has taught me skills about courage, hard work, discipline, and organization. Furthermore, every opportunity here has benefit me in developing my sense of professionalism, accountability, leadership, adaptability, and other essential sensibilities that serves as important foundations to success. Interning here has also helped me in answering questions I had for myself. As a college student who will be graduating in 2 years, the varying degrees of challenges I had overcame here were eye-opening experiences that help to shape me as the person I am becoming. I could not thank you enough for giving me such amazing opportunities to taste a bite of the real business world. Despite the short amount of time, it was truly a meaningful and valuable experience I could ever ask for. Thank you for having me here at MindTouch – summer 2014 :)

Chantal Estevez

This summer has been filled with learning experiences both on the academic and career level, as well as moments of self growth and skill development that I will apply to the rest of my professional life. This is my first summer working for MindTouch and everyday I feel fortunate to be a part of a group of friendly, intelligent, and hardworking individuals that come together to make not only a comfortable work environment, but also a family. This summer I came from my home in Boston, Massachusetts to work for the Quality Assurance and Engineering team at MindTouch where I  run manual and automated tests on the product. I am a rising sophomore at Pitzer college in Claremont, California and I am seeking to acquire bachelor degrees in computer science and French. This is my first time visiting San Diego and I now consider it to be a second home. The fact that MindTouch is conveniently located in downtown San Diego makes my summer internship experience even more enjoyable, as we have the perfect view of the coast right outside the office. One of my favorite things about MindTouch is that it cares about its employees. Not only are there three arcade machines for the employees’ enjoyment, but lunch is also catered three times a week and there are always a variety of snacks available for everyone. MindTouch is a cool company to work for because it’s young environment contributes a fresh and innovative feel to the software development industry and I am grateful to have my first summer internship in this wonderful place.

Zhaoyang Zeng

I just started my internship in MindTouch this summer and fell in love with this place after the first day. People are really nice here and they like to chat and to listen. The work environment here is just fantastic. Not much pressure but I’m still kept busy. I feel I learn new things everyday.  MindTouch doesn’t only let me work but they also train me and want me to benefit from my experience here. I am appreciate that they bring me to their engineering meetings and some presentations to let me see how their meetings work. They keep me challenging myself by assigning difficult jobs after I finish my regular work.  Anytime I find some cool features in MindTouch product, I can always chat with the creator! As a computer science student in UCSD, I find out this experience is unique and it teaches me lots of things that I can never touch in regular school work. Talking with experts here really guide me how I should progress my school work next. I am glad to be here this summer and want to stay here forever!

Miller Saltzman

This is my second summer at MindTouch, and I love it! Everyone genuinely cares about you. This has created somewhat of a family atmosphere. I work in the Customer Success department and have been editing and creating MindTouch documentation on success.mindtouch.com. I’m passionate about changing the world, creative thinking, photography, hanging with friends, surfing, and going to the dog beach with Tux, my Border Collie. I’m a rising Sophomore at Pitzer College studying Political Science. I want to be the first Jewish president, and am trying to figure out what I want to do before that. MindTouch is a great place to help me learn what I’m good at. I’m encouraged to think outside of the box and come up with awesome projects that I’m passionate about: a MindTouch vegetable garden, a photoshoot of the office and downtown San Diego, and planning events. MindTouch being my first office job, I’ve learned a lot about how a company works and how to implement changes to make it better. There are no bad ideas, and everyone is encouraged to participate in making the company more successful and a better place to work at.

New Feature: OpenSearch Favicon

  • MindTouch’s OpenSearch API now includes a reference to your MindTouch site’s favicon (the web browser bookmark icon). Web browsers that leverage OpenSearch to allow custom search input boxes (such as Mozilla Firefox) will show the site favicon next to the search input box.

New Feature for Site Visitors: Dutch, Swedish, and Finnish User Interface Localization

Changes to Existing Features

  • In preparation for some upcoming improvements to our search infrastructure, we are removing page comments from Search and GeniusSearch results starting September 4th, 2014.

Bug Fixes for Authors and Content Managers

  • When editing a page section, clicking the edit icon for a different section will refresh the page and leave page edit mode.
  • Creating a category within a category caused the new sub-category to be created at the root level of the page hierarchy (under the homepage).
  • The file attachment table headers were not aligned with their table columns.

Bug Fixes for Site Administrators

  • The editor layout preview in the site control panel was only partially localized, if the site language was set to a language other than English.

Bug Fixes for All Users

  • At first login, users are presented with a page that explains how to modify user preferences, contribute knowledge, and other information. The page now includes a link to reset a password, as users are sometimes initialized by site administrators with a randomly generated password.
  • If the result of a GeniusSearch query matched a category name, the category image would be visible in the list of sub-categories. Clicking the image would result in a message that there are no available search results, leading to a confusing user experience.

New MindTouch Documentation

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After over four years of hard work, MindTouch has finally completed it’s 100th sprint!

As an agile development house, MindTouch development teams work in two-week long sprints to fulfill new product goals and iterate based upon feedback. The expectation is that, with such tireless dedication by our team, MindTouch will be able to deliver a better, more seamless experience for all of  our customers (including top tier businesses like MakerBot, Accenture, Paypal, Code42), and their end users.

To highlight our fanaticism for customer success, our development team releases new product improvements and bug fixes every week. This constant stream of iterations shows how committed MindTouch is to listening to customers, adapting, and creating actionable results.

MindTouch commemorated its 100th sprint with a gazillion cupcakes and mimosas! If you love our product, these folks are the brains and brawn behind our development! Feel free to reach out and thank them! @MindTouch

Steve BJorg, MindTouch Founder and CTO

 

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Customer service has changed. Instead of being a cost driver, it is now viewed as a revenue-generator. To adapt to this rapidly shifting mindset, you and your team need to be able to understand how to measure success within your organization. Think about metrics through the lens of your own business model. And tailor these measures to help your end users become product experts.

But how do you do this when your organization has one foot stuck in the past (bogged down by legacy technologies, silos, and un-inspired staff) and the other inching towards a customer success model? Simple – through basic, hard-earned education.

In this crash course, we’ll discuss some important KPIs to help your business measure success. There is a lot of value in what we are about to show you and we urge you to share this with your coworkers to help your business do more.

Upsell and Cross-sell Rate: The number of people that accept an alternative or augmented offer. Upsell refers to an offer that is more beneficial to the company (like selling a more expensive product). Cross-sell refers to an item that’s related to the original desired item (like more improved features, a-la-carte service, or more).

Rate of Adoption: Define what adoption means in your organization. How would you define whether a user is a beginner, intermediate, or advanced? To calculate the rate of adoption, take the total number of users who you deem as “adopted” and divide this by your total number of users. Compare this number to itself over time for the “rate” of adoption.

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Average Revenue Per Customer: The average revenue that a company derives from a single customer over a given period of time. To measure this, take the total amount of revenue generated and divide it by the total number of customers.

Customer Churn Rate: The percentage of customers that do not renew at the end of their subscription. To measure this, take the total number of lost or canceled customers divided by the total number of active customers over a given time period.

Net Promoter Score (NPS): The percentage of customers who would recommend you to their friends, coworkers, and family. This is typically measured through a survey. The customer is asked a question of “How likely are you to recommend _____ to a friend or coworker?” and has an accompanying 0-10 scale. The NPS score is the percentage of Promoters (9-10) minus the percentage of Detractors (0-6).

Customer Effort Score (CES): A score that determines how much effort a customer had to take to accomplish a certain task. This is typically measured through a survey. The goal is to ensure all customers will select a 1, which denotes low-effort. If any number higher than a 1 is selected, it shows that there is something wrong with that particular segment of the customer journey. It is then up to you and your team to identify what is making your customers exert a lot of effort and fix it.

To learn more about the value of customer success, please check out our infographic here.

New Performance Optimization: Page Caching for Anonymous Site Visitors

  • Page Caching is a performance enhancement to increase page loading speed for your site’s anonymous visitors. Some revisions to pages won’t be visible to anonymous visitors immediately.
  • Moving, deleting, restricting, and granting permission to pages take effect immediately, where as changing content in the page may take longer as the content is cached for anonymous visitors.
  • Page content revisions made using the in-page editing experience will be visible to anonymous visitors, whereas updating content via the MindTouch RESTful API will take up to one hour. This only pertains to the content displayed on the site, page content read via the API is always up to date.
  • A page’s author can refresh the visible page content by appending the “nocache” parameter to a page URL. This will clear out the page content in the cache, which will allow the next anonymous visitor to view the page at the latest revision. Example: http://example.com/category/page?nocache.

Bug Fixes for Authors and Content Managers

  • Creating a link to a page in the page editing experience with ” \ or & in the page title would result in a link missing those characters – which is a link that would not resolve to the correct page.
  • The help link for “Drag and Drop” on a newly created blank page experience led to a page not found error on the MindTouch Success site.
  • Content ID management had a missing warning to alert Content Managers that they were overwriting a Content ID definition.
  • The editor feature that makes it easier to identify and place the cursor and add content inside elements, tables, and lists, did not appear on comment boxes in the editable content area.

Bug Fixes for Site Administrators

  • Hovering over the “Username” header in the control panel’s user management section did not display a clickable cursor (hand icon). Clicking the “Username” header selects all usernames in the view, in order to proceed with bulk operations.

New MindTouch Documentation

It’s no longer a question of whether you’re going to implement a customer success strategy, but rather a question of when. To help our customers, we – at MindTouch – have created a cheat sheet for those interested in learning more about the value of Customer Success. If you’re interested in sharing, please make sure to back-link and give us credit!

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Every business wants to make their customers successful. And every customer has questions and will find themselves navigating to a self-service help center at one point or another. Businesses should see this golden opportunity for what it is. If they can create a help center that helps rather than frustrates, they will be able to win over their customers and establish brand loyalty.

With GeniusSearch, businesses are able to deliver this high-quality, self-service experience to their customers.

What is GeniusSearch?

GeniusSearch is a search tool that provides a dynamic decision tree interface that helps customers quickly locate what they need by customizing a visual learning pathway of related articles based upon their search. Customers can effortlessly self-serve, tackle downstream issues, and learn how to wield complex features with more expertise. The best thing about GeniusSearch is that it dynamically organizes articles to maximizes discovery and each use will reinforce and improve the navigation experience of your Help Center.

geniussearch_imageWhile your customers are typing their search queries (in real time), GeniusSearch can surface articles and help them find answers faster. It also displays all search results on the same page with a dynamic “show more results” button, so you’ll never need to navigate away from the initial results to learn more. And, if by chance, you cannot find the necessary documentation, you can also contact support directly from the very bottom of the search results. It’s simple, easy, and intuitive.

These common-sense features will ultimately improve your customers’ self-service experience.

How Does GeniusSearch Integrate with the Self Service Workflow?

GeniusSearch is a game changer. With help content that is organized hierarchically, customers can quickly hone their search results, filter by category, and find answers. This dynamic decision tree workflow helps your customers navigate through the site by organizing content hierarchically, the same way the human brain intuitively learns and processes information.

Once your customers locate the necessary documentation, MindTouch will automatically recommend related, downstream articles to incentivize your customers to learn more. Such optimization enables GeniusSearch to deliver a level of self-service that is comparable, if not much better, than being routed to a support center and dealing with a live agent. GeniusSearch ultimately makes self service effortless.

Another unique part of our GeniusSearch feature is that it integrates seamlessly into GeniusLink which can be used to deflect tickets. And, if it is passed along to a live agent, GeniusLink helps your internal team quickly find, surface, and share relevant help articles without ever leaving their support dashboard. This optimization not only reduces  your  support costs, but also help your agents deliver a more high-quality, effortless support experience for your customers. To learn more about how GeniusLink is used in popular CRMs like Salesforce Service Cloud, please check out our article here.

By being able to optimize your customers’ learning pathways, you will be able to hone your content strategy so that you can help your customers succeed.

When will GeniusSeach be available?

GeniusSearch is currently not the default search for all sites powered by MindTouch, but it will be as of December 11, 2014. You can preview this new search experience at /Special:GeniusSearch. Our team here at MindTouch wanted to communicate this timeline to you so that you’ll have plenty of notice when we replace the default search experience with GeniusSearch.

If you have any feedback about GeniusSearch, please email us at [email protected]