In Adapting Ourselves to Adaptive Content, Karen McGrane (@karenmcgrane) discusses the importance of investing in our content infrastructure in order to deal with our multi-screen world.
Two Publishers: Two Strategies
- Publishers face a lot of content challenges. They feel the pain of mobile more acutely than others and therefore need to address it head on. Fragmenting our content across all these devices just isn’t sustainable.
- Conde Nast creates custom iPad apps for their key publications. They make two separate layouts for portrait and landscape, which wastes a lot of time and effort.
- They are tightly clinging to outdated mindsets. “If only we could just take pictures of our pages and put them on the iPad, everything will be great!”
- On the other side of the spectrum, NPR employs a Create Once, Publish Everywhere approach, which allows them to smartly reach a plethora of platforms
- A robust CMS allows NPR’s content to be distributed across mobile sites, apps, desktop websites, Xbox, and more.
- Conde Nast’s iPad-only approach is resulting in declining page views, while In comparison NPR saw an 80% increase in page views as a direct result of building an API for their content.
The Need for Adaptivity
- Adaptive content is more important than ever now that mobile is exploding
- Clean, well-structured content is essential for dealing with a plethora of devices and channels
- Start with a clean base of content designed for re-use, then figure out how to deploy that to a multitude of channels
- TV Guide in the 80′s had writers create multiple versions of tv reviews which was saved in a database. They were preparing their content to go more places, even places that weren’t around then.
- News organizations already have structured content, which is why they are often at the forefront of adaptive content innovation.
- News staff are already trained to structure content, so they naturally have a better time dealing with CMSes and writing more modular content.
- It’s scary for organizations to separate content from form, but it’s essential to decouple content and presentation.
- Create platform-agnostic chunks first, then determining how best to deploy to a multitude of channels
- Content authoring != Content Management != Content Publishing
- We’re in the content publishing business, not the web publishing business. It’s not about mobile-first, desktop-first or even app-first . It’s about CONTENT FIRST.
- Amazon product detail pages have a lot of information. The mobile experience chunks out major sections (reviews, info, etc) into separate screens.
- Truncation is not a content strategy for mobile. Don’t remove content for mobile screens.
- “I want a tool that works just like Microsoft Word” leads to blobs of content. We need to write chunks of content instead of blobs of content.
- Thinking about where content will “live” on a “web page” is pretty 1999. -Lisa Welchman
- Take the time to think about how content is stored and how to retrieve it. Metadata allows us to programmatically build pages. You might need to create multiple versions of a piece of content.
- Metadata is the new art direction. It gives us control to prioritize content in a way that makes sense for the context
- Metadata supports personalized content. It allows content to adapt to the user in ways otherwise not possible.
- Current CMSes are forcing us to recycle content made for a particular platform (namely the desktop web) and translate it to other contexts. Creating content with presentation for one platform in mind first leads to disparate experiences further down the line.
- The CMS workflow is typically terrible, therefore making it difficult/unappealing to create robust content. CMS is the enterprise software that UX forgot. Reducing UX friction in CMSes allows content creators to focus on….creating content. (what a concept!)
- The quality of the tools used to create content very much influence the quality of content that gets outputted.
- Happier CMS users create better content.
- Use mobile as a wedge. It’s a catalyst to think beyond a singular context and create long-term solutions.
- Investing in structured content today frees us up to focus on tomorrow’s platforms
- Design with and for structured content. Creating adaptive content is freakishly hard, but it’s absolutely necessary. Plan for the future.