Pluralsight Logo
Author avatar

Nate Sanders

Author badge Author

Introduction to Guides

Nate Sanders

Author BadgeAuthor
  • Mar 15, 2018
  • 8 Min read
  • 451 Views
  • Mar 15, 2018
  • 8 Min read
  • 451 Views
Guides

What is a Guide?

Guides are Pluralsight's first official offering to assist and aid our learners with their Just in Time (JIT) learning needs. A guide is a written piece of content, typically between 500-1000 words, that focuses on delivering direct and concise help to technical professionals.

These guides typically include key contextual guidance, code snippets or procedural tasks, and video clips from Pluralsight's library.

Unlike the rest of the Pluralsight library, our learners will be able to find and access Guides outside the paywall. These guides will be indexing on Google and we fully expect that most of the accessibility and traffic will come organically via Google. Why you ask? Well during our research we learned that tech professionals have a very predictable pattern of how they find and consume content during JIT learning moments. As they're working, they will typically need to strategize, plan an approach, respond to an issue, or react to deprecating technologies. We found they ubiquitously turn to Google queries to find what they need. It's vital for the success and adoption of these Guides that we meet our learners where they are, and assist them inside of their existing workflows.

Intro to JIT Learning?

Just-in-time (JIT) learning can be categorized as any time a professional is looking for prompt guidance and assistance to accomplish tasks and objectives. This type of learning is laser focused on the professional becoming enabled to perform at a high level.

Technical professionals today are constantly using JIT resources to assist in their ability to create the world's best technology. During our research on JIT learning, we learned that our learners experience at least 4-5 moments a day that they're seeking out content to help them with JIT learning needs. These types of moments are enabling modern day performance for tech professionals.

Why is Pluralsight Pursuing This?

Pluralsight's mission is to Create progress through technology that lifts the human condition. We believe one of the key ways to accomplish this mission is to create a holistic learning platform to empower and enable learners. We've made significant strides in the last several years to broaden our offerings to address many of the different moments of need that individuals experience on their learning journey. Just in Time learning is a significant portion of the journey, and an offering to address these needs is the next step in accomplishing our mission.

Who Can Create Guides?

Pluralsight has created an extremely valuable ecosystem by partnering with some of the world's best and brightest subject matter experts. Guides will follow this same strategy, and will look for partnerships with the industries strongest experts. We're certain that this will not only drive value to our learners as they look for the most valuable resources, but also differentiate us in the marketplace.

If you're an existing author, or if you're interested in creating a Guide— reach out to your Author Success Manager to see if it's a good fit!

The Perfect Guide

As we spent time with our learners and research their experiences with JIT content as it stands today, we learned quite a bit about what learners are judiciously looking for. They make decisions about the content they're consuming quickly— within seconds. Here are a few tips to assist you towards a successful guide that will be published by Pluralsight and appreciated by learners.

1. Focus on specific tasks

A guide should be direct, concise, and specific. Guides are not an opportunity for a thought piece or time to expound on theoretical concepts. They should give detailed and granular contextual guidance regarding specific tasks and objectives.

E.g. A guide on the long term effects of functional programming probably isn't a great fit for Guides. However, a guide explaining the specific steps that should be taken to create a pure function is.

2. It has to be up to date

A guide needs to relevant and up to date. It's important that you ensure the subject matter you're writing about and the guidance you provide isn't deprecated.

3. It needs a great title

Create an illustrative title! It should help the learner understand the problem you're addressing, and if appropriate indicate a possible solution. Don't be too creative or abstract with your titles. Err on the side of being direct and informational.

E.g. The title "State properties" wouldn't be a great title for a guide, but "How to pass state between React Components using Redux" is great.

4. Start out strong

At the beginning of your guide, include a short power statement of the problem or task you're addressing and how you plan to address it. This will help the learner qualify their scenario with what you're creating.

5.Include examples of implementation

Of all of the things you can include in your guide, code snippets and procedures are among the most important. Learners will immediately skim and scan the content they consume for keywords, code snippets, and procedures.

console.log("Code, procedures, config files, and bash scripts are all excellent examples of content JIT learners are looking for. They want to see the implementation, and they want to see supporting context and explanation around the implementation.");

6.Include surrounding context

Learners want to quickly understand why your approach is correct and valuable. Make sure you include the context and knowledge that is needed to help the learner understand your approach and methodology.

7. Make sure you solve the problem

Make sure that any supporting media you provide, video clips, links etc. are purely supplemental. The learner should be able to learn and understand everything they need to from your guide.

8. Keep it short and sweet

Finally your guide should be at least 500 words, but strive to keep your guide shorter than 1000 words. It matters to learners. They make split decisions about the purpose and efficacy of the content they consume based on it's length.

I'm an Author, What's In It For Me?

Guides is a new content format so it comes with a couple of unique value propositions for authors.

First of all, there's a lot of green pasture and opportunity for what can be created in Guides. The library of Guides today is small, but will be massive in the coming years. You have the ability to create and influence a numerous amount of important and interesting technologies and topics.

Time to creation for guides is significantly shorter than our other formats. If you have some downtime between your next video course you can create content quickly and easily, without the overhang of the needed production quality that comes with video content.

We know and have heard from hundreds of our authors how important their personal brand is to them. This content will be seen by tens of millions of learners every year. Your ability to bootstrap, expand, or diversify your personal brand will be easily achieved with this type of content.

Stay in Touch

We're really excited for the future of Guides! We have an opportunity to create some of Pluralsight's most influential content, and we're excited to work with other amazing experts and creators to carry out this vision.

If you're interested in creating a guide, please reach out to your ASM. Also, if you'd like to learn more about what we have planned for Guides, or just have a question— don't hesitate to reach out to me @ nate-sanders@pluralsight.com.

5