For access in all kinds of environments, you need a specialist who understands the tools you are using to build content. You want someone who understands the publication and content delivery process, which could be web-based, on a DVD, in a help system, on a Kindle, on your cellphone, or in print. You could have combinations of delivery systems, and want your index to work in all of them. Finding an indexer who is comfortable in all of your technical environments AND has content experience in your subject matter is essential to a good index.

You want your readers to be able to find and use all the information you have written and compiled. In technical content delivery, the index often gets done at the last moment, and problems arise. Your inhouse staff know their subject material and writing techniques intimately, but rarely do they love the art of indexing as well, nor have they studied how the interface for the index impacts its presentation. They probably hate tagging documents for content, and developing a tagging system for multiple print and online output sounds like a horrible job. When the exhausting process of writing is completed, the thought of doing a meticulous, detailed index, one that requires an objective and reader-minded approach, doesn't sound like much fun.

A professional indexer:
  • always has the user in mind,
  • makes sure the information is accessible,
  • brings a fresh eye to the information,
  • uses powerful software to streamline the indexing process,
  • meets any editorial style needed,
  • understands what happens to indexing during single-sourcing or content reuse processes,
  • knows ways to help you go beyond simple indexing to build standardized vocabularies or synonym sets if needed,
  • provides indexes that can be updated and searched quickly for any last-minute changes.
If the answers your readers need are in the manual or online, a better index could mean fewer technical support calls to your company. Search engines work, but according to recent studies, users find the information they need only one-third of the time. The online index is the user's main tool to finding analyzed information. Using a professional indexer to build your index can provide your readers with a usable content system, not a curse-able one.

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