Getting unstuck: content strategy for the future


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Responsive. Adaptive. Mobile first. Cross-channel. We all want a web that’s more flexible, future-friendly, and ready for unknowns. There’s only one little flaw: our content is stuck in the past. Locked into inflexible pages and documents, our content is far from ready for today’s world of apps, APIs, read-later services, and responsive sites—much less for the coming one, where the web is embedded in everything from autos to appliances.

We can’t keep creating more content for each of these new devices and channels. We’d go nuts trying to manage and maintain all of it. Instead, we need content that does more for us: Content that can travel and shift while keeping its meaning and message intact. Content that’s trim, focused, and clear—for mobile users and for everyone else, too. Content that matters, wherever it’s being consumed.

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Getting unstuck: content strategy for the future

  1. 1. web directions south 2012 GETTING UNSTUCK content strategy for the future Sara @sara_ann_marie
  2. 2. ‘‘Every client, in my experience, has acontent problem. Mark Boulton, just before lunch
  3. 3. Suddenly, everybody’s talking ‘bout it.
  4. 4. ‘‘In traditional media, canvas dimensions area known constraint. With digital, however,the canvas is an unknown...We need to build on what we do know:content. Chris Armstrong, “The Infinite Grid”
  5. 5. But do we actually know our content?
  6. 6. Good news! That’s what content strategyis all about.
  7. 7. ‘‘✦ Defines how you’re going to use content to meet your business (or project) goals and satisfy your users’ needs✦ Guides decisions about content throughout its lifecycle, from discovery to deletion✦ Sets benchmarks against which to measure the success of your content Kristina Halvorson & Melissa Rach
  8. 8. We’re auditing what we already have...
  9. 9. And figuring out what we want to say... Message architecture example from Margot Bloomstein
  10. 10. And making morerealistic plans forgetting it done... Page table example from Relly Annett-Baker
  11. 11. and yet:IT’S STILL SODAMN HARD,ISN’T IT?
  12. 12. Inaccessible.
  13. 13. Broken.
  14. 14. Missing.
  15. 15. Useless.
  16. 16. Even launching a newhomepage is hard.
  17. 17. ‘‘The team built tools,guidelines, and processes to help localizeeverything from responsive images toresponsive content into approximately100 different markets... They adaptedtheir CMS to allow Content Strategists toprogram content on the site. Nishant Kothary, “The Story of the New”
  18. 18. Why is content such a problem?
  19. 19. we’re moving forward,BUT OURCONTENT’SSTILL STUCK.
  20. 20. “just stick it up on the website”
  21. 21. We create content like this.
  22. 22. We create content like this. CONTENTGOES HERE.
  23. 23. So we can do
  24. 24. So we can do this. CONTENT GOES
  25. 25. But we end up with this.
  26. 26. But we end up with this. CONTENT GOES HERE.
  27. 27. it’ll only get worseBy Eva-Lotta Lamm
  28. 28. We can’t make more content for everynew device and channel.
  29. 29. It’s time we make our contentdo more.
  30. 30. COPE: Create Once, Publish Everywhere WebsitesNPR’s Mobile SitesCentral Storage API AppsCMS Third Parties
  31. 31. content like
  32. 32. Of course, content doesn’t justmagically flow.
  33. 33. It takes infrastructure.
  34. 34. Which starts with content.
  35. 35. Less like this.
  36. 36. Less like this.
  37. 37. And a little more like this.
  38. 38. And a little more like this.
  39. 39. then modelinghow it all connects
  40. 40. Some of you have probably been making data models forever.From Web Database Applications with PHP & MySQLby Hugh E. Williams and David Lane (O’Reilly, 2003)
  41. 41. But it’s easy to forget that data isalso content.what?huh? noidea!
  42. 42. structure can’t be arbitrary
  43. 43. it needs to be humanBy Eva-Lotta Lamm
  44. 44. This means revisiting our content...
  45. 45. and finding
  46. 46. not just “pages”
  47. 47. !=
  48. 48. Finding patterns gives youcontent types.
  49. 49. Event ListingsShowsBlog PostsArticlesProfilesBiosHelp ModulesPress ReleasesDirectoriesRecipesShowsProduct ListingsNews BriefsResearch Papers...etc. etc. etc.
  50. 50. Content types help you create acontent system.
  51. 51. Start with a single type ofcontent, like a recipe.What is it? What makes it a recipe?
  52. 52. Then, how do ourdifferent content types fit together?
  53. 53. systems give us optionsBy Eva-Lotta Lamm
  54. 54. We can’t manually managehow each bit of content looks.
  55. 55. But every bit of structure gives youthe option to make a rule.
  56. 56. P
  57. 57.  
  58. 58.  Q
  59. 59. If [content type] is in [situation], then[do this with] the [content elements].
  60. 60. If [a recipe] is in [the app], then [include]the [ratings before the ingredients].
  61. 61. AD RECIPE NAME Publication | Date AD Attribution Yield/Servings Teaser/short overview of thisRECIPE NAME recipe and whyPublication | Date its delicious.Attribution AD Ratings Reviews Yield/Servings Ratings Teaser/short overview of Cuisine Diet Type Reviews this recipe and why its delicious. Ingredients • Lorem ipsum dolor sit Ingredients • Amet consectateur nonummy• Lorem ipsum dolor sit Cuisine • Interdum volgus videt, est• Amet consectateur nonummy • Si veteres ita miratur• Interdum volgus videt, est laudatque• Si veteres ita miratur laudatque • Ut nihil anteferat AD • Nihil illis comparet, errat.• Ut nihil anteferat• Nihil illis comparet, errat. Diet Type ADPreparation PreparationLorem ipsum dolor sit amet consectateur nonummy Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet consectateur nonummylorenzino. Interdum volgus videt, est ubi peccat. lorenzino. Interdum volgus videt, est ubi peccat.Si veteres ita miratur laudatque poetas. Ut nihil anteferat, Si veteres ita miraturnihil illis comparet, errat. Si quaedam nimis antique laudatque poetas. Ut nihil anteferat, nihil illisLorem ipsum dolor sit amet consectateur nonummy comparet, errat. Silorenzino. Interdum volgus videt, est ubi peccat. quaedam nimis antique Si veteres ita miraturSi veteres ita miratur laudatque poetas. Ut nihil anteferat, laudatque poetas. Ut nihilnihil illis comparet, errat. Si quaedam nimis antique anteferat, nihil illis comparet, errat. Si quaedam nimis antique
  62. 62. structure sets content freeBy Eva-Lotta Lamm
  63. 63. But we’ll have to change the waywe work to make this happen.
  64. 64. our content’s stuckBECAUSEWE ARESTUCK.
  65. 65. Organizations need help. Just maybenot in the way you think.
  66. 66. it’s about people,By Eva-Lotta Lamm not tech
  68. 68. 1. mass-productionmentality
  69. 69. THE PROBLEMPeople keep creating contentthe same way they alwayshave: big WYSIWYG blobs.
  70. 70. WYSIWYG orWYSIWTF?
  71. 71. THE REAL PROBLEMContent-producing roles aren’ttied to business goals andvision—so those working inthem have no reason to change.
  72. 72. that’s not my job! i just keep the production line
  73. 73. A BETTER WAYContent strategy bridges thegap between executive visionand daily execution—not justfor a project, but over time.
  74. 74. 2. compartmentalizedteams
  75. 75. THE PROBLEMThe organization is dividedinto departments that don’tcommunicate—or, even worse,are hostile to one another.
  76. 76. protect the fiefdom!
  77. 77. Government is notorious for this.
  78. 78. This is duplicative and inefficient. Notto mention confusing as hell.
  79. 79. THE REAL PROBLEMDepartments that are alwaysfocused on themselves are notthinking about their customers.
  80. 80. the underpants
  81. 81. ‘‘Customers dont know—and dont care toknow—how government is organized. Sowhy make them go from agency [website]to agency [website] to get the full picture ofwhat govt has to offer on any subject? Participant, National Dialogue on Improving Government Websites
  82. 82. A BETTER WAYTranscend silos with cross-department teams focused ontackling a single issue. Empowerthem to spread new ideas.
  83. 83. 3. obsession
  84. 84. THE PROBLEMStakeholders don’t get digital—they want to see everythingfixed in place, like print, beforeapproving it.
  85. 85. user control terrifies them
  86. 86. THE REAL PROBLEMThe organization isn’t built forchange—and suddenly, thingsare changing fast. Rather thanadapt, it’s trying to stop the shift.
  87. 87. but things keep moving
  88. 88. A BETTER WAYIt’s not just dealing with mobile.It’s becoming an organizationthat’s adept at change.
  90. 90. “But I’m just the interaction designer!”
  91. 91. “But I’m just the front-end developer!”
  92. 92. “But that’s just how executives think.”
  93. 93. “But that’s just the way clients are!”
  95. 95. We didn’t spend years ignoring contentbecause we didn’t care about it.
  96. 96. We simply learned not to care, becausecaring was too damn hard.
  97. 97. But it’s the only way to get what we want.
  98. 98. more satisfaction for
  100. 100. 1 Make mobile an entry point, not the end point.
  101. 101. ‘‘Use mobile as a wedge to create a betterexperience for ALL users. Karen McGrane
  102. 102. True for changing organizations, too.
  103. 103. use mobile to break down
  104. 104. 2 Don’t sell solutions. Invest more deeply.
  105. 105. we don’t save the day
  106. 106. Design is not the organization’s savior.
  107. 107. Nor is strategy.
  108. 108. Nor is code.
  109. 109. it’s hard, messy
  110. 110. 3 Do less. Facilitate more.
  111. 111. After the breakpoints are established...
  112. 112. Or the API is launched...
  113. 113. The content still needs work.
  114. 114. teach ‘em to fish
  115. 115. Find the people your work affects,and incorporate them from the start.
  116. 116. we can’tknow it all
  117. 117. but we can help everyone along
  118. 118. THANK YOU, SYDNEY! // @sara_ann_marie Content Everywhere is coming in November! images used via CC-Attribution license unless otherwise noted.Illustrations used with the permission of Eva-Lotta Lamm.