A style guide running to about 1000 pages with a complex navigation had an even more complex process for updating it. It was delivered as an interactive PDF using a process that required two versions of the files in order to build navigation links between sections.
The process was too hard and took too long. The timeframe for updating the style guide was always very tight. And updating the navigation on the pages was both time-consuming and labour-intensive.
Even worse, the document describing the update process for setting up the linked files and indexing content ran to more than 40 pages.
Unsurprisingly, there were very few people in the organisation with the patience and experience to do one of these labour intensive, time consuming updates – and the next bi-annual update was looming.
The two major changes we wanted to make were to remove the need for duplicate files and for specialist expertise.
As this was a style guide, the files were very big, being image intense documents, so handling double the number of files was slow and cumbersome.
We created a new process that could be run by a script. All it took to run the script was click on a button. No specialist expertise required. No duplicate set of documents required. No 40+ pages incomplete instruction manual required.
The script was designed to update the table of contents of each section and the index numbers of the pages. It adjusts the level of detail displayed within the navigation on each page according the the space constraints of that page. And it creates the contextual information for the page location for the viewer, which had to be created manually using the original process.
The end outcome is still interactive pdfs but the large volume of complex manual work required to build the navigation is no longer required. The end result can now be arrived at by any of the designers working on the style guide.
What was once a specialist, labour-intensive task is now a click of a button. The result is a faster turnaround, less labour required, more accurate result, and specialist tasks turned into a generalist activity.