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Confab 2017: Structured Content Across the Redesign Process

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We know that content is at its most useful when it’s clear, consistent, orderly, organized—in other words, when it’s well-structured. But well-structured content doesn’t come from inserting “the structure” at some magical point in the process; it comes from applying a structural lens to all of our content activities, from beginning to end.
This talk, delivered June 8, 2017, at Confab Central, looks at how structural considerations—that is, how content is built, organized, and connected across the experience—can influence every step of the redesign process to:
- Make content easier to understand (and improve!)
- Enhance communications with stakeholders and across teams
- Lay a foundation to support future design, development, and governance plans

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Confab 2017: Structured Content Across the Redesign Process

  1. 1. @ redsesame #confabcentral 1 Structured content across the redesign process CONFAB CENTRAL | JUNE 8, 2017 LISA MARIA MARTIN
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  4. 4. @ redsesame #confabcentral 4 Big-time nerd-o.
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  6. 6. @ redsesame #confabcentral 6 Yes, I’m hinging this entire presentation on 1990s analog publishing, fight me.
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  12. 12. @ redsesame #confabcentral 12 That is one weird memory palace, huh.
  13. 13. @ redsesame #confabcentral 13 “Before the spread of printing, a highly developed Memory was needed by the entertainer, the poet, the singer, the physician, the lawyer, and the priest.” D A N I E L J . B O O R S T I N
  14. 14. @ redsesame #confabcentral 14 “The printed book would be a new warehouse of Memory, superior in countless ways to the internal invisible warehouse in each person.” D A N I E L J . B O O R S T I N
  15. 15. @ redsesame #confabcentral 15 Structured information is useful information.
  16. 16. @ redsesame #confabcentral 16 Structure helps us: • Understand content • Organize content • Connect content
  17. 17. @ redsesame #confabcentral 17 Understanding content
  18. 18. @ redsesame #confabcentral 18 “…to make every subject easier to understand...” B A R B A R A A N N K I P F E R
  19. 19. @ redsesame #confabcentral 19 Plan your audit with purpose.
  20. 20. @ redsesame #confabcentral 20 What are you trying to measure? • Quality • Quantity • Structure • Presentation • Usability
  21. 21. @ redsesame #confabcentral 21 What are you trying to measure? • Quality • Quantity • Structure • Presentation • Usability Message, voice & tone, audience, readability…
  22. 22. @ redsesame #confabcentral 22 What are you trying to measure? • Quality • Quantity • Structure • Presentation • Usability Volume, distribution, organization, consistency…
  23. 23. @ redsesame #confabcentral 23 What are you trying to measure? • Quality • Quantity • Structure • Presentation • Usability Hierarchy, categorization, navigation, relationships, URLs…
  24. 24. @ redsesame #confabcentral 24 What are you trying to measure? • Quality • Quantity • Structure • Presentation • Usability Modules, buttons, interactions, bulleted lists, visual patterns…
  25. 25. @ redsesame #confabcentral 25 What are you trying to measure? • Quality • Quantity • Structure • Presentation • Usability Findability, narrative flow, accessibility, functionality…
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  27. 27. @ redsesame #confabcentral 27 Track patterns and themes.
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  29. 29. @ redsesame #confabcentral 29 Track patterns and themes. • Keep separate notes for high- level observations • Group and regroup notes to find patterns • Try Boardthing or post-its
  30. 30. @ redsesame #confabcentral 30 Be particular about presentation.
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  33. 33. @ redsesame #confabcentral 33 Be particular about presentation. • Visualize content distribution and other data points • Lead with themes, not spreadsheets • Share raw data as a reference
  34. 34. @ redsesame #confabcentral 34 Organizing content
  35. 35. @ redsesame #confabcentral 35 Ground your sitemap in your strategy.
  36. 36. @ redsesame #confabcentral 36 What’s guiding your strategy? • Strategy statements • Concepts • Design principles • Audit insights
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  40. 40. @ redsesame #confabcentral 40 Test and iterate for best results.
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  44. 44. @ redsesame #confabcentral 44 Test and iterate for best results. • Revise with feedback • Test with users • Keep it flexible
  45. 45. @ redsesame #confabcentral 45 Build for next steps.
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  47. 47. @ redsesame #confabcentral 47 Build for next steps. • Who needs to understand it? Approve it? Build from it? • What other work will it inform? • How much detail does it need? What other layers can it support?
  48. 48. @ redsesame #confabcentral 48 Connecting content
  49. 49. @ redsesame #confabcentral 49 Understanding structure comes from constantly moving between macro and micro.
  50. 50. @ redsesame #confabcentral 50 Prepare stakeholders for content modeling.
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  52. 52. @ redsesame #confabcentral 52 Prepare stakeholders for content modeling. • Don’t jump to technicalities too soon • Identify broader content needs and groupings • Lay groundwork for future structuring
  53. 53. @ redsesame #confabcentral 53 Build relationships, not just categories.
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  56. 56. @ redsesame #confabcentral 56 Build relationships, not just categories. • Taxonomies are your friend • Structure and design the connections • Create multiple paths through content
  57. 57. @ redsesame #confabcentral 57 Use structure as a collaboration point.
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  61. 61. @ redsesame #confabcentral 61 Use structure as a collaboration point. • Consider who else needs to use your documentation • Don’t be afraid to make changes • Make sure your content is aligned
  62. 62. @ redsesame #confabcentral 62 And then what?
  63. 63. @ redsesame #confabcentral 63
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  65. 65. @ redsesame #confabcentral 65 Structure helps us: • Understand content • Organize content • Connect content
  66. 66. @ redsesame #confabcentral 66 Structure helps our strategy.
  67. 67. @ redsesame #confabcentral 67 Thank you. CONFAB CENTRAL 2017 LISA MARIA MARTIN @REDSESAME LISA.MARIA.MARTIN@GMAIL.COM
  68. 68. @ redsesame #confabcentral 68 Resources • Content Analysis Tool, content-insight.com • Treejack, optimalworkshop.com • Boardthing, boardthing.com • Eileen Webb’s taxonomy work on the-toast.net: http://responsivewebdesign.com/toast/taxonomy/ • The Order of Things, Barbara Ann Kipfer • The Discoverers, Daniel J. Boorstin • Thanks to the clients whose work I’ve shown here (Carnegie Mellon University and Seton Hill University), and the agencies I’ve worked with (Brain Traffic, Seven Heads Design, and Happy Cog) • Photos sourced from Unsplash.com under a CC0 license

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