Karen McGrane: Adaptive Content

Karen explains why better CMS structures lead to better content strategy.


Summary: Adaptive Content

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They are tightly clinging to outdated mindsets.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.

Demystify Metadata

“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.

Better CMSes

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.

Moving Forward

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.

via BDConf: Karen McGrane presents Adapting Ourselves to Adaptive Content | Brad Frost Web.

COPE: Create Once, Publish Everywhere

NPR’s content management pipeline and how it embraces these COPE principles. The basic principle is to have content producers and ingestion scripts funnel content into a single system (or series of closely tied systems). Once there, the distribution of all content can be handled identically, regardless of content type or its destinations.

COPE: Create Once, Publish Everywhere.

Future-Ready Content

As we embrace this shift, we need to relinquish control of our content as well, setting it free from the boundaries of a traditional webpage to flow as needed through varied displays and contexts. In the words of futurefriend.ly’s Brad Frost, “get your content ready to go anywhere because it’s going to go everywhere.”

But don’t unlock the shackles just yet: our content is far from future-ready. When extracted from the carefully designed pages on which it lives today, most web content turns into undifferentiated text, its meaning lost as it spills into any container you give it.

We can do better. Rather than accept these “content blobs,” as Karen McGrane calls them, we can embrace meaningful, modular chunks that are ready to travel.

via A List Apart: Articles: Future-Ready Content.

Structured Content: An Overview

When we create content—whether it’s a tweet, a blog post or a program description—we can no longer anticipate the default experience to be the desktop web browser. Our content is going places—sometimes places we can’t predict. It could be an iPhone, a Kindle, even a Nintendo Wii.

As it is dispatched to digital corners far and wide, is it equipped to do its job, no matter the context? Will content goals and user needs remain well served.

Structured Content: An Overview | Meet Content.

A List Apart: Articles: A Checklist for Content Work

A content strategy manifesto in miniature for Erin Kissane, if you need a quick summary of the basic ideas:

A List Apart: Articles: A Checklist for Content Work.