How do you use the code? This is one of the most challenging questions the NFPA product innovation team faces. There was a simple answer: “I read the book.” In practice, this was the perfect answer— there really wasn’t any other option.
Today, our customers have access to smart phones, tablets, laptops, and office computers. We’re meeting some of the market demand with electronic formats of our titles in PDF form. The common thread is that almost all of these variant formats replicate the printed book experience. Given that the variety of ways in which to view our codes and standards content is rapidly expanding, we need to have a better understanding . . . of that initial question: How, in fact, do you actually use the code?
We historically tend to classify code consumers into two basic groups: office-bound or in-the-field. We can use this classification to model usage, but it is becoming a less relevant way to describe how many of us do our jobs.
One thing I’ve learned from my role as a consumer of information is that I like to have access to it wherever I am. I want the physical books for long sit-down sessions. I want that same information on my mobile devices when I’m out of the office, and I also want the electronic versions so I can easily capture information for reports.
No, it’s not greed. And I’m not alone. What we all actually want is a convenient way to access our information. What this means from a product development standpoint is that we can’t just classify code users as “office” or “field” workers. The best way for us to understand how you use our codes is for you to tell us.
Adapting to new technology trends is always a stepwise process. First we copy the original into the new format (PDFs of existing book layouts). Then we start customizing the content to fit the capabilities of the new format (NFCSS, NECplus). The third step is fundamentally changing the way we present the content to fit the new medium.
Ultimately, we’ll be able to take advantage of these new formats to create new, customizable experiences for the customer. And then we won’t have to predict how you use the code. We’ll give you the information and the tools, and you’ll be able to customize it to fit your needs.