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Term of the Week: Rich Media

What is it?

A combination of text, video, audio, and interactive elements designed to convey information and to promote user engagement or interaction.

Why is it important?

Rich media draws the audience closer to the information. It makes content more accessible and increases context, emotional connection, and audience interaction.

Why does a technical communicator need to know this?

As technical communication shifts toward digital delivery, audiences expect content to be easily discovered and accessible on all electronic platforms, including mobile. These platforms provide content delivery options that allow users to craft and direct the experience for themselves.

By recognizing trouble spots within content, technical communicators can identify candidates for rich-media production that will provide more valuable content for both the organization and its audience.

Popular forms of rich media include:

  • Camera video
  • Recorded computer activities or screencasts
  • Software simulations requiring user interaction
  • Embedded audio
  • Interactive 3D models
  • Collections of images or image carousels

Example: Embedded 3D models

A working 3D model can provide an animated, labeled demonstration of how, for example, to disassemble and re-assemble an axle. The rich-media model drastically reduces the text needed to describe the process. At the same time, a 3D model makes it easier to identify and reference the items included with the model. It allows labeling, rotation, and cutaway views at any point in the process.

In the case of embedded 3D, the models that technical communicators need for their content have already been produced by engineers using CAD/CAM software. If so, the 3D model need only be saved in Universal 3D format (U3D) and placed into existing online help or user-guide content.

Text and graphics can’t always provide the desired connection with your user. Rich media grabs attention and provides information that linear text can’t.


About Matt Sullivan

Photo of Matt Sullivan

Matt Sullivan helps companies blend text and rich-media content and deliver that content to their audience, often to online and mobile platforms.
Matt delivers webinars on behalf of Adobe’s Technical Communication Suite team and provides training in TCS applications (specifically, Captivate, FrameMaker, RoboHelp). He also runs courses for the Society for Technical Communication, including training on creating video content for technical communication and Technical Communications Suite applications.

Term: Rich Media



Twitter: @mattrsullivan