The Way Forward: What's next for content strategy
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The Way Forward: What's next for content strategy

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Businesses that struggle to maintain their core website are now facing a dizzying array of new challenges. The hungry mouth of social media demands constant feeding. New mobile devices proliferate, ...

Businesses that struggle to maintain their core website are now facing a dizzying array of new challenges. The hungry mouth of social media demands constant feeding. New mobile devices proliferate, and users expect apps tailored for each platform. Creaky and cumbersome content management technology struggles to keep up with the pace of publishing. And internal organisational structures, hiring practices, budgeting processes, and incentive systems don’t fit the realities of modern web teams.

In this talk, Karen outlines some of the biggest challenges organisations face in dealing with their content—today, and over the next five years. She explains what matters most for our field, and what we can do as practitioners to fix the content problem.

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  • Super excited to be back in Europe for another content strategy conference\nLast time around, in Paris, we really spent a lot of time saying “hey, content strategy exists”\nThis time, it’s about what we do next. And so I’m going to talk about some of the biggest challenges that are facing the CS field over the next 5 years, and what we can do about it.\n
  • I do a lot of work with publishers: magazines like The Atlantic, Fast Company, and The Week, and newspapers like the New York Times. I think the challenges that publishers face have a lot of relevance to every business that is struggling to create, manage, and gain business value from their content.\n
  • But really, what I do is corporate therapy. I listen to their problems, they talk about their pain, and we work through their conflicts through the lens of their website.\n\nSo imagine that one of my publishing clients has come to me with a problem. \nThey say “Karen, we have a problem can you help us? Our problem is we need a redesign.”\nVerry interesting. Why do you think you need a redesign?\n\nWe have all these different websites, microsites, blogs. We have 27 different instances of Wordpress, and someone just built a new site on Tumblr. These things keep popping up like some kind of whack-a-mole game! \n\n
  • And the look-and-feel for these sites are all different. It’s very important that these sites all LOOK like they’re coming from the same company. So we need a redesign\n.\nWell, I say, that’s one way to look at the problem. But have you asked yourself: why do you feel you need to launch all these separate sites? Why do you need all these different content management interfaces and databases? \n\nThey say: We’re embarrassed to admit this. But our CMS is really hard to use. \n\n
  • I’m like, oh don’t be embarrassed. Everyone hates their CMS. But the new ones these days are really a lot better! Instead of just thinking about a redesign, why aren’t you thinking about aligning your content management infrastructure so it better fits your editorial goals?\nOH GOD NO DON’T EVEN MENTION CHANGING THE CMS. I won’t talk about that. I won’t.\nThis seems to be kind of a sensitive subject. Maybe you should talk about it. \nAnd they say — at the risk of violating my doctor/patient confidentiality, I will tell you this is a completely true story.\nWe once had a journalist who worked for us. He was a war correspondent, out in the trenches, like brokering sit-downs between the Russians and the Afghans during that war. And when it was time for him to come in from the field, they wanted to give him a promotion, and what better way to use his unique skills than by making him the head of the interactive division? He decided that his signature project would be to lead the development of a custom CMS for all our publications, one CMS to rule them all. How long could that take, right? 6 months? 9 months. 12 months. 18 months. 2 years. After 3 years the CFO came to him with a choice: they could end the project now and write it off as a loss, or he could launch it, but it had to be done in the next 3 months. They killed the project, and this guy and everyone involved with the project lost their jobs.\n
  • So, what you’re telling me is, this guy could get the Soviets and the Mujahideen to sit down and negotiate, and he couldn’t get editorial and IT to agree on how the CMS should work? Well, I can see how suggesting a new CMS might be politically unviable. \n[WALK]\nThat makes me think that your problem isn’t just technology, it’s organizational. Tell me about how your organization is structured?\n
  • Well, it used to be easy, before digital came along. But now we have writers and editors and producers and people responsible for social media and we have people doing multimedia production and now we’ve got people building mobile apps.... it’s hard to keep track of everyone creating content, everybody reports to different managers, and sometimes it seems like we’re not all working towards the same goals.\n
  • Well, it used to be easy, before digital came along. But now we have writers and editors and producers and people responsible for social media and we have people doing multimedia production and now we’ve got people building mobile apps.... it’s hard to keep track of everyone creating content, everybody reports to different managers, and sometimes it seems like we’re not all working towards the same goals.\n
  • Well, it used to be easy, before digital came along. But now we have writers and editors and producers and people responsible for social media and we have people doing multimedia production and now we’ve got people building mobile apps.... it’s hard to keep track of everyone creating content, everybody reports to different managers, and sometimes it seems like we’re not all working towards the same goals.\n
  • Well, it used to be easy, before digital came along. But now we have writers and editors and producers and people responsible for social media and we have people doing multimedia production and now we’ve got people building mobile apps.... it’s hard to keep track of everyone creating content, everybody reports to different managers, and sometimes it seems like we’re not all working towards the same goals.\n
  • Well, it used to be easy, before digital came along. But now we have writers and editors and producers and people responsible for social media and we have people doing multimedia production and now we’ve got people building mobile apps.... it’s hard to keep track of everyone creating content, everybody reports to different managers, and sometimes it seems like we’re not all working towards the same goals.\n
  • Well, it used to be easy, before digital came along. But now we have writers and editors and producers and people responsible for social media and we have people doing multimedia production and now we’ve got people building mobile apps.... it’s hard to keep track of everyone creating content, everybody reports to different managers, and sometimes it seems like we’re not all working towards the same goals.\n
  • Well, it used to be easy, before digital came along. But now we have writers and editors and producers and people responsible for social media and we have people doing multimedia production and now we’ve got people building mobile apps.... it’s hard to keep track of everyone creating content, everybody reports to different managers, and sometimes it seems like we’re not all working towards the same goals.\n
  • Well, it used to be easy, before digital came along. But now we have writers and editors and producers and people responsible for social media and we have people doing multimedia production and now we’ve got people building mobile apps.... it’s hard to keep track of everyone creating content, everybody reports to different managers, and sometimes it seems like we’re not all working towards the same goals.\n
  • Well, it used to be easy, before digital came along. But now we have writers and editors and producers and people responsible for social media and we have people doing multimedia production and now we’ve got people building mobile apps.... it’s hard to keep track of everyone creating content, everybody reports to different managers, and sometimes it seems like we’re not all working towards the same goals.\n
  • Well, it used to be easy, before digital came along. But now we have writers and editors and producers and people responsible for social media and we have people doing multimedia production and now we’ve got people building mobile apps.... it’s hard to keep track of everyone creating content, everybody reports to different managers, and sometimes it seems like we’re not all working towards the same goals.\n
  • Well, it used to be easy, before digital came along. But now we have writers and editors and producers and people responsible for social media and we have people doing multimedia production and now we’ve got people building mobile apps.... it’s hard to keep track of everyone creating content, everybody reports to different managers, and sometimes it seems like we’re not all working towards the same goals.\n
  • Well, it used to be easy, before digital came along. But now we have writers and editors and producers and people responsible for social media and we have people doing multimedia production and now we’ve got people building mobile apps.... it’s hard to keep track of everyone creating content, everybody reports to different managers, and sometimes it seems like we’re not all working towards the same goals.\n
  • Well, it used to be easy, before digital came along. But now we have writers and editors and producers and people responsible for social media and we have people doing multimedia production and now we’ve got people building mobile apps.... it’s hard to keep track of everyone creating content, everybody reports to different managers, and sometimes it seems like we’re not all working towards the same goals.\n
  • Well, it used to be easy, before digital came along. But now we have writers and editors and producers and people responsible for social media and we have people doing multimedia production and now we’ve got people building mobile apps.... it’s hard to keep track of everyone creating content, everybody reports to different managers, and sometimes it seems like we’re not all working towards the same goals.\n
  • Well, it used to be easy, before digital came along. But now we have writers and editors and producers and people responsible for social media and we have people doing multimedia production and now we’ve got people building mobile apps.... it’s hard to keep track of everyone creating content, everybody reports to different managers, and sometimes it seems like we’re not all working towards the same goals.\n
  • Well, it used to be easy, before digital came along. But now we have writers and editors and producers and people responsible for social media and we have people doing multimedia production and now we’ve got people building mobile apps.... it’s hard to keep track of everyone creating content, everybody reports to different managers, and sometimes it seems like we’re not all working towards the same goals.\n
  • You mentioned mobile. Talk to me about where you’re at with mobile.\nWe are TERRIFIED of mobile. All these different devices and platforms and form factors, and it seems like a new one is coming out every week! Should we build a mobile website, and is it different from what we put on the desktop web?Do we have to build apps for iPhone AND Android AND Blackberry? What about tablets, do we have to do something different for them? We barely have the resources to keep up with our website, how will we ever be able to keep up with all this?\n
  • Sometimes when people are in pain, they say it feels like their insides are filled with broken glass. And I think it’s the same kind of fragmentation that’s hurting businesses today.\nI see companies with content management infrastructure that doesn’t meet their needs and rather than solve the problem, they keep adding to it.\nI see companies that have not aligned the way they work and the way the company is organized to meet the new challenges posed by digital.\nAnd I see an explosion of new devices and form factors—what I’ve heard termed “the splinternet”—that will take businesses who are barely able to keep up with the web today, and will increase their burden exponentially.When I see all this, it makes me so happy. Because if you stay on top of these challenges, none of you will ever lack for job opportunities. The world needs us.\nI’m going to talk about each of these in turn.\n
  • Sometimes when people are in pain, they say it feels like their insides are filled with broken glass. And I think it’s the same kind of fragmentation that’s hurting businesses today.\nI see companies with content management infrastructure that doesn’t meet their needs and rather than solve the problem, they keep adding to it.\nI see companies that have not aligned the way they work and the way the company is organized to meet the new challenges posed by digital.\nAnd I see an explosion of new devices and form factors—what I’ve heard termed “the splinternet”—that will take businesses who are barely able to keep up with the web today, and will increase their burden exponentially.When I see all this, it makes me so happy. Because if you stay on top of these challenges, none of you will ever lack for job opportunities. The world needs us.\nI’m going to talk about each of these in turn.\n
  • Sometimes when people are in pain, they say it feels like their insides are filled with broken glass. And I think it’s the same kind of fragmentation that’s hurting businesses today.\nI see companies with content management infrastructure that doesn’t meet their needs and rather than solve the problem, they keep adding to it.\nI see companies that have not aligned the way they work and the way the company is organized to meet the new challenges posed by digital.\nAnd I see an explosion of new devices and form factors—what I’ve heard termed “the splinternet”—that will take businesses who are barely able to keep up with the web today, and will increase their burden exponentially.When I see all this, it makes me so happy. Because if you stay on top of these challenges, none of you will ever lack for job opportunities. The world needs us.\nI’m going to talk about each of these in turn.\n
  • As many of you know, I’ve been a UX person for more than 15 years. UX has all kinds of methods and processes at its disposal to make software easier for the people who use it. And it seems like none of those insights have historically been applied to content management interfaces.\n
  • Let’s fade to black here while I tell you a story. Most of my best insights about where this field needs to go come from me looking back on times in my career where I’ve screwed up. In this case, I’m working for a major magazine conglomerate on a number of projects, including redesigns of many of their properties, and putting in a new CMS. I was leading the UX team for the engagement, and I would sit in all these executive presentations in the fancy conference room. The executives would sit over here, and I’d outline my vision for the new user experience, and the projector screen was over here, and we’d show them what that would look like. But next to the screen was a door. And beyond that door was where the developers who were implementing the new CMS sat. And I knew that I should not be presenting any concepts for what the front-end user experience would be like without understanding what the workflows would look like for the content producers. I knew that I should be in there, sitting with the developers, making sure that the experience for the content creators would be every bit as good as the experience for the end user. And I would sit in those meetings, and I would stare at that door, and I knew I should walk through it.\nAnd I didn’t. Because it was too hard. Because it wasn’t in scope. Because I didn’t know what control I would have over the CMS interface design. Because I was afraid that by doing so I would call into question in the client’s mind the wisdom of all our decisions, both on the front-end design and the CMS package WE recommended. And so I did nothing. And predictably the editorial staff HATED the new CMS, and some of the features we proposed couldn’t be implemented because producers either could not or would not do what the CMS required. And I’ve always regretted that.\n\nBecause, see, if you are in the business of creating content — and these days, who isn’t? — then the efficiency of your content workflow directly contributes to value for your business. \n
  • Do you know anyone who’s looking at analytics data on the performance of their CMS? I don’t.\nIf you were running an ecommerce site, you would optimize the hell out of those workflows. Delays, dropoffs, timeouts, errors: all result in lost revenue.\nIf you're a content-focused business, your content workflow is like an ecommerce workflow. And we have to start doing a better job of designing CMS interfaces for the people who use them.\n\n
  • This means we need to evaluate potential CMSes based on more than technical architecture, feature checklists, more than just the system requirements, security requirements and support requirements.\n
  • We have to stop talking about “usability” in CMSes as being about having a WYSIWYG toolbar, cute interface widgets, or an attractive font and color palette. Those things are nice, but true usability comes from understanding the complexity of the workflow: how the content is structured, what metadata is in place, and how pages get built dynamically based off business rules.\n
  • To do that, we have to use the same skills that UX people have employed for decades to understand and design for people’s tasks, behaviors, and mental models. You CAN do contextual inquiry with content creators. You CAN map out the content creation workflow across the organization. And you CAN demand that the CMS technology adapt to the user, rather than expecting the user to adapt to the technology. That’s user experience 101 guys, and it’s time we signed up for that class.\n
  • I’m not saying we need to do this just because I care about the people who create content — though I do, I want them to be happy.\n
  • I’m saying this because if you give people better tools to use, if you remove the pain points from their daily workflow, they will do better work. They will create more and better content. And that means value to the business.\n
  • Many of you have probably heard me say this before, but we are in the business of helping organizations evolve, it’s change management. The web, mobile, digital media have changed WAY faster than most businesses can keep up. Companies move slowly, and most companies are not yet organized to deliver great digital products and services.\nIf you haven’t read Jonathan Kahn’s great piece for A List Apart on this subject, you should stop listening to me and go read it right now.\n
  • See, in the beginning, there was marketing, and there was IT. And it was good, because these people never had to talk to each other. Then the web came along, and marketing and IT had to sit around a conference table trying to make joint decisions about how the website should work. User experience came in to mediate, to speak the language of both groups, and to get everyone focused on the most important goal, meeting the needs of the user.\nContent plays a role as a subset of all of these. Content marketing, content management technology, and content strategy as an aspect of UX, advocating for the user or the reader.\n\nBut here, in this room, our goal is to have content strategy seen as a vertical, to integrate these various perspectives. But this is not how organizations are structured.\n
  • See, in the beginning, there was marketing, and there was IT. And it was good, because these people never had to talk to each other. Then the web came along, and marketing and IT had to sit around a conference table trying to make joint decisions about how the website should work. User experience came in to mediate, to speak the language of both groups, and to get everyone focused on the most important goal, meeting the needs of the user.\nContent plays a role as a subset of all of these. Content marketing, content management technology, and content strategy as an aspect of UX, advocating for the user or the reader.\n\nBut here, in this room, our goal is to have content strategy seen as a vertical, to integrate these various perspectives. But this is not how organizations are structured.\n
  • See, in the beginning, there was marketing, and there was IT. And it was good, because these people never had to talk to each other. Then the web came along, and marketing and IT had to sit around a conference table trying to make joint decisions about how the website should work. User experience came in to mediate, to speak the language of both groups, and to get everyone focused on the most important goal, meeting the needs of the user.\nContent plays a role as a subset of all of these. Content marketing, content management technology, and content strategy as an aspect of UX, advocating for the user or the reader.\n\nBut here, in this room, our goal is to have content strategy seen as a vertical, to integrate these various perspectives. But this is not how organizations are structured.\n
  • See, in the beginning, there was marketing, and there was IT. And it was good, because these people never had to talk to each other. Then the web came along, and marketing and IT had to sit around a conference table trying to make joint decisions about how the website should work. User experience came in to mediate, to speak the language of both groups, and to get everyone focused on the most important goal, meeting the needs of the user.\nContent plays a role as a subset of all of these. Content marketing, content management technology, and content strategy as an aspect of UX, advocating for the user or the reader.\n\nBut here, in this room, our goal is to have content strategy seen as a vertical, to integrate these various perspectives. But this is not how organizations are structured.\n
  • See, in the beginning, there was marketing, and there was IT. And it was good, because these people never had to talk to each other. Then the web came along, and marketing and IT had to sit around a conference table trying to make joint decisions about how the website should work. User experience came in to mediate, to speak the language of both groups, and to get everyone focused on the most important goal, meeting the needs of the user.\nContent plays a role as a subset of all of these. Content marketing, content management technology, and content strategy as an aspect of UX, advocating for the user or the reader.\n\nBut here, in this room, our goal is to have content strategy seen as a vertical, to integrate these various perspectives. But this is not how organizations are structured.\n
  • See, in the beginning, there was marketing, and there was IT. And it was good, because these people never had to talk to each other. Then the web came along, and marketing and IT had to sit around a conference table trying to make joint decisions about how the website should work. User experience came in to mediate, to speak the language of both groups, and to get everyone focused on the most important goal, meeting the needs of the user.\nContent plays a role as a subset of all of these. Content marketing, content management technology, and content strategy as an aspect of UX, advocating for the user or the reader.\n\nBut here, in this room, our goal is to have content strategy seen as a vertical, to integrate these various perspectives. But this is not how organizations are structured.\n
  • See, in the beginning, there was marketing, and there was IT. And it was good, because these people never had to talk to each other. Then the web came along, and marketing and IT had to sit around a conference table trying to make joint decisions about how the website should work. User experience came in to mediate, to speak the language of both groups, and to get everyone focused on the most important goal, meeting the needs of the user.\nContent plays a role as a subset of all of these. Content marketing, content management technology, and content strategy as an aspect of UX, advocating for the user or the reader.\n\nBut here, in this room, our goal is to have content strategy seen as a vertical, to integrate these various perspectives. But this is not how organizations are structured.\n
  • I believe that we in content strategy—and in user experience, and really anyone working in digital—are in the midst of a long, slow slog to change the way that businesses work so that we can deliver great digital products and services. It means changing the way that companies structure themselves, changing or realigning the categories of the traditional org chart.\n\n
  • It means changing the way people are incentivized, because as this classic management article tells us, “It’s the reward system, stupid.” Right now we are committing the folly of incentivizing old, outdated, business practices, and hoping that great digital content or great user experiences will result. \n
  • Let’s talk about YOUR role in all this. People’s performance in organizations can be measured on two axes: competence and likablity. People who are good at both are dreamy rockstars, and of course, everyone in this room is a dreamy rockstar to me. On the opposite end, incompetent jerks usually don’t last long in organizations. I’ve said for years that you cannot be a jerk and suck at your job. But what about the people in the middle, the competent jerks and the lovable fools? It’s tempting to think that we will persuade people with our competence, even if we have to be jerks about it. But the real change agents within organizations are the lovable fools, because people like them and trust them, they’re the glue that holds the company together.\n\nIf you were designing a program to communicate new practices or principles throughout an organization, how would you select the messengers? Star performers? The ones who argue loudest and longest? Or do you chose the people who, because others will like them and will listen to them, are going to be good evangelists for the new ideas? It’s okay to embrace your role as a lovable fool. \n
  • Let’s talk about YOUR role in all this. People’s performance in organizations can be measured on two axes: competence and likablity. People who are good at both are dreamy rockstars, and of course, everyone in this room is a dreamy rockstar to me. On the opposite end, incompetent jerks usually don’t last long in organizations. I’ve said for years that you cannot be a jerk and suck at your job. But what about the people in the middle, the competent jerks and the lovable fools? It’s tempting to think that we will persuade people with our competence, even if we have to be jerks about it. But the real change agents within organizations are the lovable fools, because people like them and trust them, they’re the glue that holds the company together.\n\nIf you were designing a program to communicate new practices or principles throughout an organization, how would you select the messengers? Star performers? The ones who argue loudest and longest? Or do you chose the people who, because others will like them and will listen to them, are going to be good evangelists for the new ideas? It’s okay to embrace your role as a lovable fool. \n
  • Let’s talk about YOUR role in all this. People’s performance in organizations can be measured on two axes: competence and likablity. People who are good at both are dreamy rockstars, and of course, everyone in this room is a dreamy rockstar to me. On the opposite end, incompetent jerks usually don’t last long in organizations. I’ve said for years that you cannot be a jerk and suck at your job. But what about the people in the middle, the competent jerks and the lovable fools? It’s tempting to think that we will persuade people with our competence, even if we have to be jerks about it. But the real change agents within organizations are the lovable fools, because people like them and trust them, they’re the glue that holds the company together.\n\nIf you were designing a program to communicate new practices or principles throughout an organization, how would you select the messengers? Star performers? The ones who argue loudest and longest? Or do you chose the people who, because others will like them and will listen to them, are going to be good evangelists for the new ideas? It’s okay to embrace your role as a lovable fool. \n
  • Let’s talk about YOUR role in all this. People’s performance in organizations can be measured on two axes: competence and likablity. People who are good at both are dreamy rockstars, and of course, everyone in this room is a dreamy rockstar to me. On the opposite end, incompetent jerks usually don’t last long in organizations. I’ve said for years that you cannot be a jerk and suck at your job. But what about the people in the middle, the competent jerks and the lovable fools? It’s tempting to think that we will persuade people with our competence, even if we have to be jerks about it. But the real change agents within organizations are the lovable fools, because people like them and trust them, they’re the glue that holds the company together.\n\nIf you were designing a program to communicate new practices or principles throughout an organization, how would you select the messengers? Star performers? The ones who argue loudest and longest? Or do you chose the people who, because others will like them and will listen to them, are going to be good evangelists for the new ideas? It’s okay to embrace your role as a lovable fool. \n
  • Let’s talk about YOUR role in all this. People’s performance in organizations can be measured on two axes: competence and likablity. People who are good at both are dreamy rockstars, and of course, everyone in this room is a dreamy rockstar to me. On the opposite end, incompetent jerks usually don’t last long in organizations. I’ve said for years that you cannot be a jerk and suck at your job. But what about the people in the middle, the competent jerks and the lovable fools? It’s tempting to think that we will persuade people with our competence, even if we have to be jerks about it. But the real change agents within organizations are the lovable fools, because people like them and trust them, they’re the glue that holds the company together.\n\nIf you were designing a program to communicate new practices or principles throughout an organization, how would you select the messengers? Star performers? The ones who argue loudest and longest? Or do you chose the people who, because others will like them and will listen to them, are going to be good evangelists for the new ideas? It’s okay to embrace your role as a lovable fool. \n
  • Let’s talk about YOUR role in all this. People’s performance in organizations can be measured on two axes: competence and likablity. People who are good at both are dreamy rockstars, and of course, everyone in this room is a dreamy rockstar to me. On the opposite end, incompetent jerks usually don’t last long in organizations. I’ve said for years that you cannot be a jerk and suck at your job. But what about the people in the middle, the competent jerks and the lovable fools? It’s tempting to think that we will persuade people with our competence, even if we have to be jerks about it. But the real change agents within organizations are the lovable fools, because people like them and trust them, they’re the glue that holds the company together.\n\nIf you were designing a program to communicate new practices or principles throughout an organization, how would you select the messengers? Star performers? The ones who argue loudest and longest? Or do you chose the people who, because others will like them and will listen to them, are going to be good evangelists for the new ideas? It’s okay to embrace your role as a lovable fool. \n
  • Let’s talk about YOUR role in all this. People’s performance in organizations can be measured on two axes: competence and likablity. People who are good at both are dreamy rockstars, and of course, everyone in this room is a dreamy rockstar to me. On the opposite end, incompetent jerks usually don’t last long in organizations. I’ve said for years that you cannot be a jerk and suck at your job. But what about the people in the middle, the competent jerks and the lovable fools? It’s tempting to think that we will persuade people with our competence, even if we have to be jerks about it. But the real change agents within organizations are the lovable fools, because people like them and trust them, they’re the glue that holds the company together.\n\nIf you were designing a program to communicate new practices or principles throughout an organization, how would you select the messengers? Star performers? The ones who argue loudest and longest? Or do you chose the people who, because others will like them and will listen to them, are going to be good evangelists for the new ideas? It’s okay to embrace your role as a lovable fool. \n
  • Let’s talk about YOUR role in all this. People’s performance in organizations can be measured on two axes: competence and likablity. People who are good at both are dreamy rockstars, and of course, everyone in this room is a dreamy rockstar to me. On the opposite end, incompetent jerks usually don’t last long in organizations. I’ve said for years that you cannot be a jerk and suck at your job. But what about the people in the middle, the competent jerks and the lovable fools? It’s tempting to think that we will persuade people with our competence, even if we have to be jerks about it. But the real change agents within organizations are the lovable fools, because people like them and trust them, they’re the glue that holds the company together.\n\nIf you were designing a program to communicate new practices or principles throughout an organization, how would you select the messengers? Star performers? The ones who argue loudest and longest? Or do you chose the people who, because others will like them and will listen to them, are going to be good evangelists for the new ideas? It’s okay to embrace your role as a lovable fool. \n
  • Moving on, I want to talk about what I think is the biggest challenge facing businesses today, even if they don’t know it yet, which is how they are going to deal with the proliferation of mobile devices. There’s been some great discussion on this topic on the CS Google Group over the past couple of days.\n
  • Let’s look at a case study of how two different organizations have handled this problem.\n
  • NPR is America’s National Public Radio, and Conde Nast is the large magazine publisher of titles like Vogue, the New Yorker, and Lucky. \nConde has invested heavily in developing custom apps for the iPad for some of their flagship titles like\n
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  • When the iPad first launched I had a conversation with the great Paul Ford, who teaches the content strategy course in the MFA program where I teach design management, and he said: we’re about to usher in a golden age of PDFs on the iPad.\n
  • And maybe Conde Nast would be better of if that’s what they did. Instead, they’re investing in even more art direction, using their print staffers to create two custom layouts each month, one for portrait and one for landscape. \n\n
  • To me, this looks like an organization desperately clinging to what it knows best: believing that the art direction, the layout, the design, the production values are what will make them successful in digital. Or, as one commenter said,\n
  • It’s like they are hearkening back to a time in the 1980s when print advertising rates were at an all time high, everyone had limos pick them up to take them to work, mid-afternoon a guy with would come through the aisle, pushing a cart loaded with cocaine.\n\nThe 80s are gone, and custom art-directed apps aren’t going to bring them back.\n
  • So, let’s contrast that strategy with how NPR has approached the problem. NPR has invested in something that’s not nearly as sexy as what Conde Nast is doing. It’s an API which supports something they call “COPE”: Create Once, Publish Everywhere. It’s the exact opposite direction: instead of investing time in custom layouts and art direction, they’re investing in true separation of content from form.\n
  • What this means is that they can easily take content, whether created in-house or provided by partners, and push it out through their API to an amazing variety of devices and platforms. So here you can see the exact same story about Winnie The Pooh on:\n
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  • An iPhone app that offers streaming audio from more than 500 public radio stations streams across the United States.\n
  • WBUR in Boston\n
  • MPR in Minneapolis\n
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  • ITunes desktop app\n
  • Made possible by a CMS that is set up to guide content creators through developing different sizes and formats for content, and that presumably people like using\n
  • And an API, which makes it possible to separate content from presentation. It means that all the various websites and mobile websites and mobile apps and desktop apps that I just showed you can access this content, and then make their own decisions about how to visually present it.\n
  • So, how well have each of these strategies paid off?\n
  • Compared with print editions that sell hundreds of thousands of copies every month, the Conde Nast iPad apps aren’t doing so well. The numbers released for Fall 2010 show consistent declines, and the fact that they haven’t released more positive numbers for 2011 suggests things haven’t gotten better.\n
  • Compared with print editions that sell hundreds of thousands of copies every month, the Conde Nast iPad apps aren’t doing so well. The numbers released for Fall 2010 show consistent declines, and the fact that they haven’t released more positive numbers for 2011 suggests things haven’t gotten better.\n
  • Compared with print editions that sell hundreds of thousands of copies every month, the Conde Nast iPad apps aren’t doing so well. The numbers released for Fall 2010 show consistent declines, and the fact that they haven’t released more positive numbers for 2011 suggests things haven’t gotten better.\n
  • Compared with print editions that sell hundreds of thousands of copies every month, the Conde Nast iPad apps aren’t doing so well. The numbers released for Fall 2010 show consistent declines, and the fact that they haven’t released more positive numbers for 2011 suggests things haven’t gotten better.\n
  • Compared with print editions that sell hundreds of thousands of copies every month, the Conde Nast iPad apps aren’t doing so well. The numbers released for Fall 2010 show consistent declines, and the fact that they haven’t released more positive numbers for 2011 suggests things haven’t gotten better.\n
  • Compared with print editions that sell hundreds of thousands of copies every month, the Conde Nast iPad apps aren’t doing so well. The numbers released for Fall 2010 show consistent declines, and the fact that they haven’t released more positive numbers for 2011 suggests things haven’t gotten better.\n
  • Compared with print editions that sell hundreds of thousands of copies every month, the Conde Nast iPad apps aren’t doing so well. The numbers released for Fall 2010 show consistent declines, and the fact that they haven’t released more positive numbers for 2011 suggests things haven’t gotten better.\n
  • Compared with print editions that sell hundreds of thousands of copies every month, the Conde Nast iPad apps aren’t doing so well. The numbers released for Fall 2010 show consistent declines, and the fact that they haven’t released more positive numbers for 2011 suggests things haven’t gotten better.\n
  • Compared with print editions that sell hundreds of thousands of copies every month, the Conde Nast iPad apps aren’t doing so well. The numbers released for Fall 2010 show consistent declines, and the fact that they haven’t released more positive numbers for 2011 suggests things haven’t gotten better.\n
  • NPR, on the other hand, has seen a dramatic increase in the number of pages that get viewed, which presumably means a lot more people are engaging with it. In fact, they’ve seen their page views go up 80%.\n
  • The reason their page views have gone up 80%? They attribute it directly to their API. But more important, they’re saving time and money because they don’t have to do custom development so every new platform can access the content, which means that the time to design and launch each new app is much lower.\n\nI don’t tell you this story because I’m here touting APIs. In fact, I’m really afraid that someone is going to come up to me after this talk and ask for advice on implementing an API, and my response is going to be “I like cake.” There are other people here who are way smarter about actually doing this than I am.\n
  • I tell you this story because I think it reflects a real crisis, and a real opportunity for the content strategy field.\n\nFor years, we’ve been telling web designers: The web is not print. You do not have control. You cannot have pixel-perfect layouts. You have to think in flexible, dynamic systems. And in return, we got web standards, which allowed us to create designs that would work across platforms or browsers. \n\nAnd today, the same people who gave us web standards are innovating around “responsive” or “adaptive” web design techniques to help companies maintain one code base and serve the same content and design across mobile handsets, tablets, and desktop websites. \n
  • The great Ethan Marcotte, author of Responsive Web Design, frames it from a content perspective: businesses can barely keep up with the demands of their desktop websites, how do you expect them to maintain all these different platforms?\n\nWhen I look at this I see the design and developer community picking up OUR slack. So while designers and developers are innovating, content creators are too often still doing things the same old way. We moved from letting content creators think about where something would live in a book or a document to letting them think about where it would live on a webpage. And, as Lisa Welchman says, thinking about where something “lives” on a “web page” is pretty 1999.\n
  • We let people get away with having a “Microsoft Word-like” interface” for people “who know nothing about HTML and want to keep it that way.” And the problem with that is we aren’t teaching people what it means to structure content so it can be reused across devices, the way NPR does it.\n
  • The best summation of this concept comes from a guy named Ethan Resnick, who explained “Metadata is the new art direction.” \n\nWhat this means is that the art of constructing pages or sites or apps is now not just about making custom designed layouts. It’s about figuring out how to to use logic, business rules, search queries and metadata to build dynamically generated pages. \n
  • The way we are all going to survive and thrive when dealing with mobile is by thinking more flexibly about our content. And it’s about having an underlying content framework—a reusable content store—that is ready to support publishing to all these different platforms. And to do that means we have to start teaching people, ordinary people, not just librarians and database architects, what it means to think in content systems.\n\nI know there are people here who will say “the tech comm people have been talking about this for YEARS.” Or “Isn’t this just refried information architecture?” And the truth is, yes it is. It’s foundational work that we can now apply as we attempt to deal with the even greater challenge of mobile.\n\nWe as a community have a responsibility to honor and respect the work that has been done by communities that came before us. And the best way for us to honor them, is to learn from them, take up the torch, and carry it forward. \n
  • I see an opportunity.\n
  • The same attention to tasks, workflow, and interface design in our CMSes as we put into the front-end experience\n
  • We slowly help all the businesses we work with recognize that they are now in the business of creating digital products and services, and they need to change the way they work, they way they’re organized, and the way they reward people to support that.\n
  • And we capitalize on this great opportunity to use mobile as the wedge that gets people to understand that we’re not writing books or documents or web pages: we are creating a well-structured, reusable content framework. \n\nWe have a real opportunity here, we have attention, we have community, and we have passion. Let’s not waste it.\n
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The Way Forward: What's next for content strategy The Way Forward: What's next for content strategy Presentation Transcript

  • THE WAY FORWARDContent Strategy Forum 2011@karenmcgrane#csforum11
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  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/filamentgroup/5149016958/
  • FRAGMENTED CONTENT MANAGEMENTFRAGMENTED ORGANIZATION STRUCTUREFRAGMENTED DEVICES + PLATFORMS 9
  • CMS IS THE ENTERPRISESOFTWARE THAT UX FORGOT 10
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  • http://www.deskala.com/new/wp-content/themes/deskala/assets/slide4.jpg 15
  • “The happier people are, the better their contentwill be, the more content they’ll produce.Digital newsrooms have moved from shoveling tocreating. Those two tasks require very differentenvironments. —Patrick Cooper, NPR http://www.poynter.org/how-tos/digital-strategies/134791/4-ways-content-management-systems-are-evolving-why-it-matters-to-journalists/ 16
  • “Beautiful software, even for back-end users, isbecoming an expectation.We’re moving in this direction because we nowunderstand that better content managementsystems foster better content. —Matt Thompson http://www.poynter.org/how-tos/digital-strategies/134791/4-ways-content-management-systems-are-evolving-why-it-matters-to-journalists/ 17
  • CONTENT STRATEGY ISCHANGE MANAGEMENT 18
  • CONTENT STRATEGY CONTENT MARKETINGMARKETING CONTENTUSER EXPERIENCE STRATEGYTECHNOLOGY CONTENT MANAGEMENT 19
  • Your contentproblem is hereYour contentperson is here 20
  • http://www.sba.oakland.edu/Faculty/york/Readings434/Readings/On%20the%20folly.pdf 21
  • Dreamy Competent Rockstar Jerkcompetence Incompetent Lovable Fool Jerk likability Competent Jerks, Lovable Fools, and the Formation of Social Networks, Harvard Business Review 22
  • THERE IS NO “MOBILE” 23
  • A TALE OF TWO PUBLISHERS 24
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  • We’re about to usher in a golden age of PDFs on the iPad. Paul Ford, Ftrain.com 30
  • “Existing art and production staffers from the printside would be responsible for making two iPadlayouts (one in portrait and one in landscape) onAdobe’s platform.—Condé Nast Is Experiencing Technical Difficulties http://www.observer.com/2011/07/scott-dadich-ipad-conde-nast/?show=all 31
  • All I see is an entire organization screaming,“WE WANT IT TO BE THE EIGHTIES GODDAMMIT.” Condé Nast Is Experiencing Technical Difficulties 32
  • COPE: Create Once, Publish Everywhere 33
  • CONTENTPROVIDERSMUSICPARTNERS NPR, Open Content and API’s, O’Reilly Oscon 34
  • NPR.ORG NPR Digital Media Examples of COPE 35
  • NPR.ORGPLAYER NPR Digital Media Examples of COPE 36
  • NPR NEWSIPHONE APP 37
  • NPR MOBILEWEB SITE 38
  • NPR ADDICTIPHONE APPProduced by a public user,based entirely on the NPR API 39
  • NPR ON THEPUBLIC RADIOPLAYER 40
  • NPR ONWBUR 41
  • NPR ONMPR 42
  • NPR ONIGOOGLE 43
  • NPR INITUNES 44
  • NPR’SCMS 45
  • NPR’S API 46
  • BUSINESS VALUE? 47
  • 31,000 IPAD ISSUE SALES 22,000 13,000 11,000 10,500 8,700 4,300 2,775Sept. Nov. Sept. Nov. Sept. Nov. Sept. Nov. 48
  • NPR PAGE VIEWS 88M 43M 49
  • “Over the last year, NPR’s total page view growth hasincreased by more than 80%. How did we get thatmuch growth? Our API.The biggest impact that the API has made, however, iswith our mobile strategy. The API has enabled NPRproduct owners to build specialized apps on a widerange of platforms and devices, liberating them frombeing dependent on custom development to accessthe content. Through this process, we built our iPhoneand iPad apps, mobile sites, open sourced Android appand HTML5 site, some of which were turned around ina matter of weeks! —Zach Brand, Senior Director Technology, NPR 50
  • Fragmenting our content across different “device-optimized”experiences is a losing proposition, or at least an unsustainable one. Ethan Marcotte, Responsive Web Design 52
  • Metadata is the new art direction. Ethan Resnick, @studip101 54
  • MOBILE WEB MOBILE WEBSITE APPS SOCIAL TABLET MEDIA APPS CONTENTMICROSITES PRINT BLOGS EMAIL INTRANET 55
  • FRAGMENTED CONTENT MANAGEMENTFRAGMENTED ORGANIZATION STRUCTUREFRAGMENTED DEVICES + PLATFORMS 56
  • CMS INTERFACES THAT RESPECTCONTENT CREATORS LIKE USERS 57
  • ORGANIZATIONS ALIGNED AROUNDCREATING GREAT CONTENT 58
  • COHESIVE STRATEGY FOR CREATINGREUSABLE CONTENT ACROSS PLATFORMS 59
  • THANK YOU.@karenmcgranekaren@bondartscience.comwww.bondartscience.com+1 (917) 887-8149