Changing Content, Changing Culture

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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's structured and defined so it 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.

But it's not just that our content is stuck. Truth is, our organizations and clients are stuck, too—and unless we, web professionals of all stripes, take the lead to do things differently, they won't be able to keep up. In this session, well start with revisiting our legacy content and adding the structure and metadata we'll need to make it more flexible. Then, we'll also tackle the heart of the problem: organizational cultures that are terrified of change.

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Changing Content, Changing Culture

  1. www.flickr.com/photos/nishanthjois/5116863376/CHANGING CONTENT,CHANGINGCULTUREsarawachter-boettcherweb visionsnyc 2013
  2. ‘‘Every client, in my experience, has acontent problem. Mark Boulton, Web Directions South
  3. ‘‘In traditional media, canvas dimensionsare a known constraint... With digital,however, the canvas is an unknown.Instead, we need to build on what we doknow: content. Chris Armstrong, “The Infinite Grid”
  4. But do we actually know our content?
  5. Good news! That’s what contentstrategy is all about.
  6. ✦ Defines how content will meet business (or project) goals and users’ needs✦ Guides decisions about content from discovery to deletion✦ Sets benchmarks against which to measure the success of your content Kristina Halvorson & Melissa Rach
  7. It’s figuring out what we want to say... Message architecture example from Margot Bloomstein
  8. And making morerealistic plans forgetting it done... Page table example from Relly Annett-Baker
  9. and yet:WE’VE STILLGOT SO FARTO GO.
  10. Inaccessible.
  11. Missing.
  12. Useless.
  13. Even launching a newhomepage is hard.
  14. ‘‘The Microsoft.com 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 Microsoft.com”
  15. This is why mobile is so hard.
  16. the web’s moving forward,BUT OURCONTENT’SSTILL STUCK.
  17. “just stick it up on the website”www.flickr.com/photos/wordridden/6125516150/
  18. We create content like this.
  19. We create content like this. CONTENTGOES HERE.
  20. So we can do this.www.flickr.com/photos/76029035@N02/6829344565
  21. So we can do this. CONTENT GOES HERE.www.flickr.com/photos/76029035@N02/6829344565
  22. But we end up with this.
  23. But we end up with this. CONTENT GOES HERE.
  24. it’ll only get worseBy Eva-Lotta Lamm
  25. We don’t need more content. We needcontent that does more.
  26. content like waterwww.flickr.com/photos/briangaid/2909765394/
  27. COPE: Create Once,Publish Everywhere
  28. But content doesn’t justmagically flow.
  29. It takes infrastructure.
  30. Which starts with content.
  31. which takes care and craftBy Eva-Lotta Lamm
  32. And a CMS to match
  33. Of course, structured data isn’t new.From Web Database Applications with PHP & MySQLby Hugh E. Williams and David Lane (O’Reilly, 2003)
  34. The results just weren’t always great.What?Huh? Noidea!
  35. structure isn’t arbitrary www.melissaanddoug.com
  36. It’s about taking our content knowledge...
  37. and finding patternswww.flickr.com/photos/darkfoxprime/4348506299/
  38. not just “pages”www.flickr.com/photos/peroshenka/408997641
  39. systems, notjust hierarchies
  40. systems give us optionsBy Eva-Lotta Lamm
  41. We can’t manually managehow each bit of content looks.
  42. But every bit of structure gives usthe option to make a rule.
  43. rules tell content what to do
  44. structure helps content move
  45. Now, for the hard part.
  46. our content’s stuckBECAUSEWE ARESTUCK.
  47. it’s people, not just tech
  48. 3 CHALLENGES FOR OUR ORGANIZATIONS
  49. 1. mass-productionmentalityLIFE magazine archives
  50. THE PROBLEMPeople keep creating contentthe same way they alwayshave: big WYSIWYG blobs.
  51. WYSIWYG orWYSIWTF?
  52. THE REAL PROBLEMContent-producing roles aren’ttied to business strategy, goals,or vision—so those working inthem see no reason to change.
  53. that’s not my job! i just keep the production line moving.www.flickr.com/photos/seattlemunicipalarchives/2710933334
  54. A BETTER WAYContent strategy bridges thegap between executive visionand daily execution, defininghow content will serve strategyover time.
  55. 2. compartmentalizedteams
  56. THE PROBLEMContent-producing departmentsdon’t communicate, or are evenhostile to one another.
  57. protect the fiefdom!www.flickr.com/photos/domhill/7190797128/
  58. Government is notorious for this.
  59. This is duplicative and inefficient. Notto mention confusing as hell.
  60. THE REAL PROBLEMDepartments that are alwaysfocused on themselves are notthinking about their customers.
  61. the underpants problemwww.flickr.com/photos/red_devil/4728500604
  62. ‘‘Customers dont know—and dont care toknow—how government is organized. So whymake them go from agency [website] toagency [website] to get the full picture ofwhat govt has to offer on any subject? Participant, National Dialogue on Improving Government Websites
  63. A BETTER WAYTranscend silos with cross-department teams focused ontackling a single issue. Empowerthem to spread new ideas.
  64. 3. obsession withcontrolwww.flickr.com/photos/expertinfantry/5416964813
  65. THE PROBLEMStakeholders don’t get digital—they want everything fixed inplace, like print, before approval.
  66. user control terrifies them
  67. THE REAL PROBLEMThe organization isn’t built forchange—and suddenly, thingsare changing fast. Rather thanadapt, it’s trying to stop the shift.
  68. things will keep moving
  69. A BETTER WAYIt’s not just dealing with mobile.It’s becoming an organizationthat’s adept at change.
  70. good news!WE CAN DOSOMETHINGABOUT THIS
  71. “But I’m just the interaction designer!”
  72. “But that’s just how executives think.”
  73. “But that’s just the way clients are!”
  74. STOP THATRIGHT NOW.
  75. Caring about content is a pain, yes.
  76. but it’s the only way we’ll be satisfiedwww.flickr.com/photos/yakobusan/3162940696
  77. 3 WAYS TO MAKE CHANGE HAPPEN
  78. 1 Make mobile an entry point, not the end point.
  79. ‘‘Use mobile as a wedge to create a betterexperience for ALL users. Karen McGrane
  80. Also true for changing organizations.
  81. use mobile to break down doorswww.flickr.com/photos/justin-march/3720489344/
  82. 2 Don’t sell solutions. Invest more deeply.
  83. we don’t save the day
  84. You can’t just fix it.
  85. You’ve got to be in it together.
  86. it’s hard, messy workwww.flickr.com/photos/trondheim_byarkiv/4773880876
  87. 3 Do less. Facilitate more.
  88. After the CMS is updated...
  89. Or the API is launched...
  90. The content will still need help.
  91. teach ‘em to fish...
  92. Find the people your work affects,and incorporate them from the start.
  93. THANK YOU, WEBVISIONS NYC sarawb.com // @sara_ann_marie Content Everywhere is available now! http://rfld.me/content-everywhereFlickr images used via CC-Attribution license unless otherwise noted.Illustrations used with the permission of Eva-Lotta Lamm.

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