What’s the problem?
- Content on different devices shows up as inaccessible, broken, missing, or is useless (such as a mobile-optimized site that doesn’t show you what you need).
- The web is moving forward, but content is still stuck. We’re not ready for the internet of things. Companies say, “just stick it up on the website,” but that’s not a strategy for getting your content ready to publish to multiple devices. It will only get worse: there are now phones, tablets, Phablets, and new things you can’t possibly anticipate. Anyone tried to develop content for display in cars?
How do we fix this?
- We don’t need more content. We need content that does more. NPR has a great example with their COPE strategy: Their API sends content from a database to websites, mobile, apps, 3rd parties.
- It’s nice to think that content is like water – it flows everywhere it needs to go. But it doesn’t just magically flow; it takes infrastructure. Start with the content, break it down into chunks, look at the interconnection, not just the hierarchy.
- This needs to be based on what the content is, and what the content is supposed to do. Structure isn’t arbitrary. Do a content audit first – find patterns. Patterns help establish content types, build structure. Content types create a system. We can’t manually manage how each bit of content looks. Every bit of structure gives us the option to make a rule. Structure helps content move.
How do we fix The People Problem?
It’s people, not just technology that create roadblocks. Challenges for an organization:
- Mass production mentality: Content producing people are often disconnected from biz strategy, goals, vision, and they see no reason to change. Content strategy bridges the gap between the executive vision and daily execution, defining how content will serve strategy over time.
- Silos: Sometime different departments don’t communicate, or are even hostile, rather than working together. This is duplicative, confusing, and inefficient. Departments that are always focused on themselves are not thinking about their customers. Transcend silos with cross-department teams focused on tackling a single issue. Empower them to spread new ideas.
- Obsession with control: Stakeholders don’t get digital, they want everything fixed in place like print. User control terrifies them. The organization isn’t built for change – suddenly things are changing fast. Rather than adapt, it’s trying to stop the shift. Things will keep moving. It’s not just dealing with mobile, it’s becoming an organization that’s adept at change.
Channel the Passion
- Make mobile an entry point, not the end point. Use mobile to break down doors.
- Don’t sell solutions. Invest more deeply. Find the people your work affects, and incorporate them from the start.
- Iterate, make progress, implement incremental changes. Show everyone how they can play a role in it.
- Responsive interview with Sara Wachter-Boettcher (responsivedesignweekly.com)
- An Event Apart: The Mobile Content Mandate (lukew.com)
- Got Structure? The Basics of APIs for Content (contently.com)